The London House: A Novel, by Katherine Reay — A Review  

From the desk of Tracy Hickman: 

I have been fascinated with history since I was a child. Learning about people and events from the past has helped me better understand my own life and the world around me. While there can be a temptation to look back at a period of history and think that issues were simpler or clearer, for the people living those events there was no 20/20 hindsight, only uncertainty and struggle. For this reason, I was curious to explore the lives, past and present, touched by Katherine Reay’s The London House. Because I enjoy Continue reading “The London House: A Novel, by Katherine Reay — A Review  “

In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

There is something about royalty that is so fascinating to me. What would it be like to be born into a world of privilege and power? How do they live? Who are their friends? What are their secrets?

The British royal family is my favorite, so I jumped at the chance to read In Royal Service to the Queen, by Tessa Arlen. Based on actual events and real people, the story is told from the perspective of governess Marion Crawford. Her charges were the royal Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose Windsor. What she Continue reading “In Royal Service to the Queen: A Novel of the Queen’s Governess, by Tessa Arlen—A Review”

A Preview of The Socialite, by J’nell Ciesielski

The Socialite by J'Nell Ciesielski 2020Fans of the bestselling World War II historical fiction novels such as The NightingaleThe Women in the Castle, and Lilac Girls have been eagerly waiting for The Socialite, by J’nell Ciesielski. Loosely based on the real-life Mitford sisters, this wartime novel is set in Paris, France, a city conquered by Nazi’s yet resilient and defiant.

I was intrigued by a plot including two sisters intertwined with history. A total escape vehicle during these troubling times, anyone familiar with the famous Mitford sisters will be further interested in this novel. Ciesielski has written several popular historical fiction novels, so she is a seasoned and skilled writer who deserves further attention and acclaim.

I have pulled together a brief preview of The Socialite for you all today. I am about half-way through the story and am really enjoying it. My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher Thomas Nelson for a copy of the book. Many of you who enjoy history, romance, and intrigue will be enthralled. Continue reading “A Preview of The Socialite, by J’nell Ciesielski”

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

A year and a half ago I had the privilege of reading an early manuscript of The Jane Austen Society by debut novelist Natalie Jenner. It only took two chapters for me to be totally hooked. By the end of the book, I was weeping with joy. I just knew that my fellow historical fiction and Jane Austen fans would rejoice as I had in the endearing characters, compelling plot, and the heartfelt tribute to one of literature’s most beloved authors, Jane Austen.

If ever we needed an emotionally uplifting escape, it is during these turbulent times. The Jane Austen Society is a joyous antidote to help us through a pandemic. Continue reading “A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of The Jane Austen Society: A Novel, by Natalie Jenner”

All the Ways We Said Goodbye, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White — A Review

All The Ways We Said Goodbye, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White (2020)From the desk of Katie Patchell:  

Three Women. Three Decades. Two Wars. 

In All the Ways We Said Goodbye, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White take readers across two continents and through two World Wars to uncover spies and secrets. Each of the three heroines, Aurelie, Daisy, and Babs, fight to bring freedom of heart and country in this tale that spans fifty years. The drumbeat of war reaches to stately mansions and across war-ravaged fields, calling each of the unique heroines to right the wrong in their corners of the world. Despite their seemingly unconnected lives, the same glittering Ritz holds the answers to what they search for: Courage, love, and a final goodbye. So reader: welcome to Paris — welcome to the Ritz — welcome to All the Ways We Said Goodbye.

If there was one word to describe this novel, it would be “secrets.” Aurelie, Daisy, and Babs have many secrets that they hide from even those closest to them, and it’s the job of the reader to sniff them out. I cannot Continue reading “All the Ways We Said Goodbye, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White — A Review”

The Chilbury Ladies Choir: A Novel, by Jennifer Ryan — A Review

The Chilbury Ladies Choir x 200Set in an English country village at the onset of WWII, The Chilbury Ladies Choir is told through letters and journal and diary entries by four female characters who are faced with keeping the home fires burning while their menfolk are off fighting Nazis. The first-person format intrigued me, and the subject sounded promising. However, it was the anticipation of escaping into the lives of “three or four families in a country village” that really hooked me. If English-born author Jennifer Ryan could dish out endearing and foibled characters I was in for a great read.

Ominously, the novel begins with the funeral of Commander Edmund Winthrop, the first casualty of the war from this tight-knit community. The reality of his death hits the remaining residents hard, coupled with the fact that the vicar decided to close the church choir due to the lack of male voices. The ladies rebel. They are done with being told what to do by the few men remaining. Disobeying the vicar, they form the Chilbury Ladies Choir led by Miss Primrose Trent, a music tutor from the local university. Continue reading “The Chilbury Ladies Choir: A Novel, by Jennifer Ryan — A Review”

Lost Roses: A Novel, by Martha Hall Kelly – A Review

Lost Roses 2019 x 200Are there any historical fiction readers out there who have not read the insanely popular Lilac Girls yet? Hello!

Martha Hall Kelly’s debut novel was published in 2016 – and like all book fledglings was sent out into the world with high hopes. Early reviews were rather mixed, but it hit the NY Times bestseller list immediately, a phenomenon for a debut novel. It has become one of those rare books in publishing that has an enormous wingspan, remaining on the bestseller lists for years.

One cannot even imagine the pressure on Kelly’s shoulders to produce her second novel, Lost Roses, released last month by Ballantine Books. A prequel to Lilac Girls, many of her readers will have high expectations. If she was smart, she would stick to her winning formula: base the story on real-life women facing challenges during historical events; transpor Continue reading “Lost Roses: A Novel, by Martha Hall Kelly – A Review”

Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Darcy Goes to War, by Mary Lydon Simonsen (2012)From the desk of Christina Boyd:

Author Mary Lydon Simonsen is making quite a name for herself as a writer who successfully uses Jane Austen’s characters and themes in other historical times and settings.  Her latest Pride and Prejudice re-imagining is set in WWII England with the Bennet girls conscripted into the workforce to support the war effort.  This tale begins when Elizabeth Bennet, a pants-wearing, lorry driver, encounters the handsome but rude Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot, Fitzwilliam Darcy.  And like in Austen’s masterpiece, Darcy once again unwittingly slights Elizabeth when she overhears him discouraging a fellow officer from attending a local RAF dance.  “I shall warn you there is little beauty in the girls who attend these dances, and they aren’t exactly light on their feet.  If you do go to the dance, my advice is to wear your jump boots.”  But upon seeing Elizabeth, Darcy is certain he has met her previously, but where?  A befuddling thought indeed until they are later formally introduced through another pilot, Charles Bingley.

The original characters are as they ever were with Lydia getting caught dallying with Wickham and with real consequences; and Jane falling for the estimable, Mr. Bingley.  What was most pleasing was to read familiar Continue reading “Darcy Goes to War: A Pride and Prejudice Re-imagining, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review”

Searching for Pemberley, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review

Could Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice have been based on the courtship of Elizabeth Garrison and William Lacey, a Regency-era couple who appear to be the doppelgangers of the legendary Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy? The possibility is intriguing to Maggie Joyce, a 22-year old American working in England after WWII who hears rumors of the story of Elizabeth and William Lacey while touring Montclair, their palatial estate in Derbyshire whose similarities to Pemberley, the grand country estate in Pride and Prejudice seem to be more than a striking coincidence. As a devoted fan of Austen’s most popular novel, Maggie is curious to discover the truth. When she is introduced to Beth and Jack Crowell, a local couple with strong connections to the Lacey family, they gradually reveal to Maggie their own research through the Continue reading “Searching for Pemberley, by Mary Lydon Simonsen – A Review”

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