The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

Two very different women, from very different worlds, cross paths following the devastation of the Great War and embracing the Jazz era. Dolly Lane is a chambermaid from humble beginnings who seeks stardom, glitz and glamour. Loretta May is a beautiful and glittering actress and celebrity who wants to do a bit of good before she is taken by her terminal illness.

In a world of lost love, tragedy, and inhumanity, lives intertwine and a little sunshine peeks out. A musician must come to terms with his war trauma, a wounded soldier must remember what he has lost so he can move on with his life, a girl with a tainted past must face her past decisions and let go of her guilt, and a woman envied by all must use her gifts selflessly to finally get closure and let go of life.

The Girl from the Savoy, by Hazel Gaynor, is a novel about facing demons and embracing the future, and letting go of whatever is standing in the way of life and love. If you liked Hazel Gaynor’s previous works, The Girl Who Came Home, and A Memory of Violets, you will love The Girl from the Savoy. If you’re looking for a quick, fun weekend read, this one probably won’t be your best choice. The Girl from the Savoy will pull at your heartstrings and give you a lesson in human failings and that little glimmer of hope that keeps us all moving. If you want a book with a touch of historical fiction and a literary feel, pick up The Girl from the Savoy, by Hazel Gaynor, today.

The Taste of Appleseeds by Katharina Hagena

taste-of-apple-seeds-cover

Originally entitled “Der Gerschmack von Apfelkernen”, this novel has been translated into English from German, and has already been a literary success in Europe, translated into numerous languages and made into a German film (which I’m dying to get my hands on).

The story revolves around Iris, a woman who inherits her grandmother’s home upon her death and is forced to face some of the secrets of her family and her past. Her grandparents both had deep, dark secrets hidden in the walls that don’t tell tales. Tragedy struck more than once in the little home, more than one daughter was lost. Iris decides to speak with the man who has been tending the home, and with the lawyer representing the property (who is conveniently handsome) and see if she can put together the pieces left behind for her.

The Taste of Appleseeds, by Katharina Hagena, is a must-read for readers who love Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, the House at Riverton) , Katherine Webb (The Unseen, The Half-Forgotten Song) , or Kimberley Freeman  (Wildflower Hill, Lighthouse Bay, Ember Island). What makes the novel original is that it has a touch of magical realism, faint but there nonetheless, which gives the story something special that you magical realism readers will love too.

Anyone who knows me well enough to judge can tell you that these types of novels are my very favorite. Long, delving back through generations, deep and dark family secrets, beautiful description and an almost magical feel, and a heroine who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery at any cost…LOVE them. They aren’t for readers who want instant gratification or a short weekend read, but for patient readers who like to take a more languid path once in a while. If this sounds like you, then don’t hesitate to read The Taste of Appleseeds…And if any of you can figure out how to get any version of the movie available here in the states be sure to let me know!

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

timthumb.php

Vivian Daly was 8 years old when she woke to a house fire and was put into the custody of an organization that distributed orphans to foster families out in the country. She rode a train full of other children like herself, some gathered up from the streets and gutters. She is placed into a family, but quickly finds out that she is not intended to be a child, but to work for them without pay except room and board…When the depression hits, things unravel quickly, and she finds herself bouncing from home to home, trying to find her place in the world and survive as best she can, only her able body and her wits on her side.

Molly Ayer is a 17-year-old girl who has been in “the system” for many years. She has bounced from foster situation to foster situation, and she has learned that she has no one to count on but herself. She dyes her hair, gets piercings, wears gothic makeup…Whatever it takes to get people to just leave her alone. When she is sentenced to 50 hours of community service and placed in the home of an elderly woman named Vivian, she knows the whole thing is going to be a big snooze fest…But she finds that she and this old woman are not so different from one another. And an unlikely bond forms between these two strong women.

Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline, is a novel about the parallels and patterns in life that travel from generation to generation, the darkest sides of humanity, the people who stand up for others and the people who only care about themselves, and the pain of real life and hardship. This novel is not warm and fuzzy, although the end is very uplifting. More sensitive readers will want Kleenex nearby, as the flaws in the foster system of both generations are unearthed and exposed mercilessly. This novel is beautiful and intense, and I couldn’t put it down. Great story. Period.

Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer

15813537

Queenie Wake (birth name Queen Elizabeth Wake, much to her chagrin) was born into a family with a slight reputation. Her mother was murdered when she was found in bed with another woman’s husband, and the reputation for low-class and promiscuity has haunted Queenie and her sister, Merry Carole, for their entire lives in North Star, Texas.  Queenie escaped as soon as possible, heading to get a culinary education and explore the world, never to look back on the town that whispered rude comments behind her back and never bothered to take her in as one of their own. When Queenie finds herself out of work after bouncing from city to city for years, and she has nowhere to go but back home to stay with her sister and face the demons she has been running from for a very long time…The love of her life, the truth about her own mother, family, and the dirty little secrets of North Star… When the chef is offered a job cooking the “last meals” for the local prison, she is forced to test her limits and decide what she really wants to do with her life.

Nowhere but Home, by Liza Palmer,  is a novel about southwestern cuisine, small town politics, forgiveness, family, and, more importantly, finding where you belong- in the least likely of places. If you haven’t read other books by this author,  be sure to pick up More Like Her, which is also an excellent example of women’s fiction that addresses deeper heartache and real-life horrors that happen to everyday people. Readers who love Joshilyn Jackson (A Grown Up Kind of Pretty) will also adore this novel.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

13508607Anyone who knows me can already guess that this is going to be a raving review. Kate Morton is HANDS-DOWN my favorite author, has held the title for the last couple of years. I read The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton as fast as I could get my hands on them, after falling in love with the first title by her that seduced me into her exquisite world of mystery, scandal, and provocative history that she has mastered and made into absolute perfection for the reader.

The Secret Keeper is about actress Laurel Nicolson, a middle-aged icon on London stage who comes home when her mother is dying and discovers a mysterious photograph hidden in a book. She begins to wonder just how well she actually knows her own mother. The woman who fed them, played with them, danced with her father in the moonlight, might actually have a few deep dark secrets of her own, and Laurel just can’t seem to let them go. She starts a journey into the past, following clue after clue until she discovers a shocking secret that will forever change her own perception of her mother.

Delving into the past, two women with similar, yet very different lives, cross paths in air-raid stricken London during World War II…And events spiral, changing the course of lives all around them.

If you loved any of Kate Morton’s previous works, this one will be another delicious treat for you. If you haven’t read one of her works, but you like women’s fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction (of the non-bodice-ripping variety), then these intelligent, beautifully scripted novels are definitely for you.  Pick it up. You won’t regret it.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Kate Morton, author of The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, has outdone herself with her 2011 novel, The Distant Hours. A lonely, rundown, centuries old castle in England seems to hide secrets in every dark, forgotten shadow. By a strange series of events, Edie Burchill, a book publisher from London, finds herself setting out to uncover just what mysteries the house can unravel and reveal-starting with the story of her mother, who was displaced to the castle from London during wartime, and ending by learning the deepest, darkest secrets of the three elderly women who still reside in the castle…Missing persons, secret love affairs, broken hearts, tragedy, and the complicated webs woven by family expectations and loyalty make up this deep, twisted tale that readers cannot put down until they’ve read the last page.

Readers who enjoyed The House at Riverton or The Forgotten Garden are guaranteed to LOVE this novel. If you love books like Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, or Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, you will adore The Distant Hours, which encompasses all the best elements of these mysterious, detail rich tales which keep the reader guessing until the end…And thinking long after the book is finished.

If this type of novel is your “cup of tea” (forgive the pun), then pick up your copy today!

‘The Unseen’ by Katherine Webb will keep you reading deep into the night

A house maid with a dark past, a marriage with a painful secret, and a conniving houseguest make for a twisted tale that keeps you guessing until the bitter and shocking end. Cat Morley is recruited to live with the vicar and his wife and serve them as an employee, and the goings-on of the house from the moment she arrives are enough to make a person dizzy. Albert, the vicar, spends most of his spare time wandering alone in the woods looking for “spirits”, the housekeeper seems to want her fired, and the halls of the house seem to whisper secrets that are just out of hearing.

When reknowned “theosopher” Robin Durrant comes to stay in the house as a very long-term houseguest, tensions begin to rise for everyone under the roof, including the staff. Who is this man and what are his intentions? Can he really be serious about the “spiritual beings” he claims to see in the woods? Can Albert, a holy man, really be taken in by Robin’s ridiculous philosophy and “scientific” ideals? Hester, Albert’s wife, can see the water rising, but can’t seem to open her husband’s eyes to the swamp of deceit that is welling up around them.

Almost a hundred years later, Leah is a journalist who sets out to identify remains discovered on an old World War I battle site. Letters from a woman to the soldier are all that she has to go by as she begins her search for the truth. What is the secret of the Rectory that has been buried for so many decades? Who is the dead soldier, and what are his connections to the woman in the letter? Was there a scandal covered up all those years ago? As the truth is slowly unearthed, Leah finds herself growing closer and closer to the great-great-grandson of Hester and Albert Canning. But what happens when her ex shows up and wants her back in his life?

This tale skips between the past and the present with a gloomy, intense style very similar to Kate Morton (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton) and Kimberley Freeman (Wildflower Hill)-full of mystery and deep, dark family secrets. If you enjoy this type of literature,  you will not want to miss Katherine Webb’s The Unseen“, and you may find that her other works tickle your fancy, as well.