A spin of divorce in Puritan New England and the power of gossip. Mary Deerfield has had enough of the abuse from her drunken husband. He is smart enough to never beat her in front of their servant girl or in areas that would be visible to the town but she feels that enough is enough. As expected the tables are turned when she files for divorce and she is accused of adultery and forced to return to her husband's home. Her life worsens and as she looks for ways to escape she is turned in for practicing witchcraft. My take from this book is that however bad a few men can make your life it can be made much worse by a clever woman with a grudge. This is a classic story of power, abuse and fear. 4 stars
An engaging saga of early female aviators, artists and early 1900's Montana combined with a dual story of a child actress hoping to jump start her failing career by playing Marian. Marian and Jamie's story takes us from prohibition Montana where Marian gets involved in a tangled relationship with a bootlegger rancher. Jamie looks to California for a fresh start and dreams of becoming an artist. Years go by and both are involved in the war as Marian goes to Europe and Jaime goes to Asia which brings them back full circle. Marian is obsessed with flying the circumference of the Earth from pole to pole. The modern story of Hadley whose life mirrors Marian's and whose career will come full circle with this movie. It is a love story, history lesson and vivid adventure with nods to Steinbeck, "Legends of the Fall" and THE GOLDEN HOUR by Beatriz Williams. It is the kind of book you want to go back later and reread to discover what you missed the first time through. 5 high flying stars
During the Gilded Age in New York you had to have money to play but you had to have old money to be a player in Caroline Astor's court. When upstart Alva Vanderbilt tries to compete for the top hostess spot she finds herself shunned publicly time and time again. Decades pass and these two women watch their children grow up and make bad choices, their husbands leave and make bad choices and they are still locking horns. What seems frivolous and extreme gossip was social death back then. Even without social media the society pages and gossip mill was damaging enough. Powerful families head by powerful women who left quite a cultural legacy behind. Think of this as mean girl historical fiction. 4 stars
Pip Williams takes us back to a converted garden shed where a group of hardworking lexigraphers collected words from all over to compile the first Oxford Dictionary.
It is under tables in the Scriptorium where Esme collects her own words at the feet of her father and fell in love with the power of words.
Esme is watched over by a lovable housekeeper, Lizzie and a family friend Aunt Ditte but it is still an unusual upbringing. Years pass and finally Esme's dream of assisting the team is realized. It is also when Esme finds importance in the words that are omitted, mainly spoken by women, and compiles a dictionary of her own. This is a wonderful mashup of real events and the imagined life of what it was like to be an ambitious woman in a man's world. An amateur lexicographer's dream story but also a coming of age love story about relationships between all kinds of mothers and their charges. 4 stars
Hettie is in love- not with what her mother would consider a qualified suitor. Hettie has been in love with a 3 year old elephant named Violet since the first day they acquired her for the zoo. Now she works there and has a very special relationship with Violet. War and zoo animals don't mix so when bombings begin in Belfast hard choices must be made and Hettie makes her choice. She will do whatever it takes to protect Violet in ways that she feels she is unable to protect her family. Sweet story that once again show the capacity for goodness and evil in people trapped in catastrophic conditions. This clever debut will appeal to animal lovers as well as WWII history readers. 4 stars
Ada is the daughter of a dirt poor trapper living on the edge of Mississippi swamp. Her father is abusive and cruel and even more so when she comes back home pregnant and alone. Matilda is a sharecropper's daughter living in a shack with nothing they can call their own. A violent act brings these two young women together and they form a close friendship despite the different color of their skin and racial tension of the 1920's South. They help each other despite the danger and violence all around them. Ada has dreams of being a seamstress and Matilda just wants to head North where she can be free of the secrets. Historical fiction once again featuring tough women in tough times putting up with the men who have total control over their lives.
A single mom of an infant balancing little sleep, hormones and a job with the BBC is stunned when she sees her sister on a security camera in a robbery and working with the IRA. Tessa and Marion are close and Tessa cannot believe that her sister would be a part of this but she will not turn her sister in.
Soon Tessa is pulled into a very dangerous game of helping Marion pass information to MI5. If either of them is caught there will be no second chance or time to say goodbye to Finn. This tight political thriller shows us both the violent and very human side of these activists. This tie to motherhood and family loyalty shows us a very different side to what you see on the news. 4 stars
I listened to the audiobook and was pulled deep into the disbelief and shock of London during the Blitz. A young woman and her friend arrive from the country to London hoping to work in a shop only to find herself working in a book shop for a man that clearly doesn't want her help. She begins reading from the recommendations of shop patrons and soon she is steering the shop into success as well as adjusting to how she can help in the war effort and the grief that comes with war. Part romance, part historical this is a story with a bit for everyone and it is wonderful in audio. The fear, the resilience and the spirit of London is inspiring not to mention seeing the birth of marketing techniques that are still used today. 4 stars
An atmospheric and unique look at the Reconstruction era in New York and Haiti. Libertie grows up with one of the first black female doctors in New York in a time where freedom from slavery adds a responsibility to achieve. Libertie's mother assumes her daughter will follow in her footsteps so that is the path that Libertie starts on but when she falls in love with a quiet man from Haiti she chooses to follow his path instead. Once in Haiti Libertie must deal with a world very different from the one she left behind as well as the pain and grief of leaving her mother and her mother's dream behind.
This will appeal to readers of Black history as well as those interested in rich cultural historical fiction. 4 stars
A sweeping saga based on the author's ancestor Georgianne who leaves her comfortable life in the North to become a battlefield nurse under the famous Dr. Blackwell. It is also the story of life on a plantation in the South told from Jemma, a slave and Anne-May her mistress. The book parallels the classic GONE WITH THE WIND with the horrors of slavery along with the realities of running a plantation once the men have gone to war and the division of families. I was very interested in Georgianne's story and the experiences of a war nurse. As with her other books in the Lilac Girls series, this is a solid choice for riveting historical fiction that can be easily read as a standalone. 4 stars
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