The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

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Charlotte Bill is a nanny with the most prestigious appointment imaginable…Tending the children of the Duke and Duchess of York…children in line for the throne of England. The world of the royals is full of jewels, and gold, and glamour-but it’s speckled with deep dark secrets, and the cold comforts of a royal home-and Charlotte is quickly realizing that these children need her love and care more than she could have possibly imagined.

Despite the challenges, Charlotte, nicknamed Miss Lala by the children, spends years of her life raising an entire generation of children, sacrificing her own chances at love, home and hearth for a duty which has become her greatest life accomplishment. Charlotte sacrifices everything to ensure that the children, especially the last born son, Little Prince John, are safe and cherished until adulthood. No matter what it takes or who she will lose from her own life.

Stretching from 1897 through 1959, The Royal Nanny, by Karen Harper, tells the tale of a devoted nanny, and the details of royal family life. If you like historical fiction, especially the royal variety like Philippa Gregory, you will love this novel. I couldn’t put it down. Check it out!

The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor

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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.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

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The Maisie Dobbs series was an accidental slip of fate which I’m pleased to have stumbled upon. Like many of you, I have Netflix. Also like many of you, I tend to watch an entire series consecutively (night after night) once I’ve begun watching. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was one such Netflix find. I was also happy to discover that there is indeed a book series by Australian author Kerry Greenwoodbook series by Australian author Kerry Greenwood, about a sassy flapper-era female detective who is no stranger to adventure and intrique–Miss Phryne Fisher. Unfortunately, my library didn’t have any of the Phryne Fisher books and it wasn’t available as an ebook on Overdrive either. Which means if I want to read the Phryne Fisher books, I’ll have to buy them. And it’s a long series. Anyways, I came across an article which listed authors you should try if you like the Phryne Fisher books-historical mysteries with a plucky female heroine. Which is how I encountered the Maisie Dobbs books.

Maisie Dobbs is not a flapper-era female detective but she is a detective of sorts. She is a well-educated British ex-nurse who opens her own detective agency with interest in helping people. She’s not a scandalous, sassy flapper, she’s a lady with dignity and composure and a strong sense of decorum.

The first novel in the series by Jacqueline Winspear is simply called Maisie Dobbs, and it’s her first case after the Great War ends and she comes back home. She investigates a sort of commune in the country where wounded war veterans are going to get a break from the outside world and live together in peace and harmony among other men who understand them…The problem is that they never seem to come back, and there are some very suspicious deaths out there in the commune. When a close friend in the aristocracy asks for Maisie’s help finding out what is going on out there, Maisie doesn’t hesitate to jump on board.

If you like historical mysteries, definitely try the Maisie Dobbs series. Worth reading.

A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

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A Pattern of Lies, by Charles Todd, is the 7th novel in a series starring the heroine Bess Crawford, a Nurse during World War I who uses her wit and solid reputation to help friends and acquaintances to solve mysteries and get out of dire situations.

A Pattern of Lies is set in Kent in 1916, Bess is on leave and visiting the Ashtons, a well-to-do aristocratic family beset with tragedy. Their gunpowder mill burned down, killing more than a hundred men, and the town seems set on blaming the father of her friend and watching him hang on the gallows. But Bess thinks there is more to the story and she uses every resource available to her to find the truth. Someone is sabotaging the Ashtons, vandalizing their property and even setting fire to their home. Who could want to harm the Ashtons and can Bess sniff them out before someone is hurt, or worse?

The Bess Crawford novels are a dignified, proper read with intelligent language and a slow, simmering pace that can’t be rushed. The reader is tickled with details gently up until the final climax and it’s a slow burn with a satisfying ending. If you like novels that are perfect for a slow, breezy, quiet day, A Pattern of Lies, by Charles Todd, will be a great choice for you.

The Uninvited: A Novel by Cat Winters

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Ivy Rowan wakes up one day after being struck with Influenza. An epidemic has taken over the town and before she got sick, her father and brother had committed a terrible crime. Deep in her gut, something is telling her that it’s time for her to leave home and go out on her own in life.

Out in town, everything is in turmoil. In addition to the epidemic, soldiers are being sent to fight in the Great War overseas, dying in battle, coming back wounded, leaving behind widows and wives to fend for themselves. Ivy finds a place to board in town and seeks out a German man who was wronged by her family members-she wants, more than anything, to help him in some way.

Ivy finds herself confused, nothing is as it should be, the world is such an ugly place and she wants desperately to find beauty and warmth in it. She wants desperately to make a difference in someone’s life…But there is one terrible hitch-women in her family have always had a “gift” of seeing spirits after they have passed, right before something terrible happens to someone close to them….And she keeps seeing the spirits of the departed all around her.

What are the spirits trying to tell her? Is someone close to her in danger? Can she help enough to make a difference to someone? Can she form a connection with the German man that will give him comfort in his time of misery?

The Uninvited, by Cat Winters, is a psychological thriller sprinkled with ghosts and set in the time of the Great War. A combination of so many genres makes for an addicting and intriguing read. If you don’t like “ghost stories”, I would steer clear of this one, but if you can handle a touch of the supernatural in your reading, The Uninvited is very strange and interesting. If you like books that twist your perception and reality, The Uninvited is for you!

Stella Bain, by Anita Shreve

 

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A woman is found wandering, lost, confused and ill during World War I. A kind and generous couple takes her into their home and nurses her back to health, realizing with time that the self-named Stella Bain actually has no idea who she is, and has no place to go. The couple observes only that she has been serving in the war, based on her uniform, and that she has an American accent.

Stella must overcome her amnesia and get her life back-but how long will it take? Does she have family and friends who are worrying about her? Why can’t she push away the nagging guilt that arises whenever she tries to remember who she is? What if she doesn’t want to know the truth about her past?

Suddenly, it all comes back to Stella, and she must decide what to do with the rest of her life and rediscover who the real woman inside her wants to be.

Stella Bain is very historical fiction/women’s fiction in genre. The tone is very serious and rich in description and sentiment. I found it to be an excellent audiobook to hear at work- but I also have a special weakness for historical fiction set during the Great War-I just think it was a great time for women to start showing the world what they were made of, don’t you?!

 

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Enza and Ciro grew to adolescence in the mountains of Italy, their lives crossing one another but never meeting, until Ciro arrives to help bury her little sister and the two are pulled into a saga of near misses and everlasting love that lasts for decades. Ciro learns that he must leave the convent where he has been living, bound to be a shoemaker’s apprentice in America. Enza stays with her family, but as they begin to lose everything to horrible luck and heartache, she finds herself on a boat, also headed to America. In some stroke of luck in the overcrowded city, they find one another again-but the timing is not right and they divide to follow their separate destinies. She gets low-level work in a factory and meets a friend who convinces her that they can do better, giving her the strength to pursue dreams she never thought she deserved to realize. She finds herself in the job of her dreams, a seamstress at The Metropolitan, creating costumes for the opera singers, and she finds a man who immediately adores her, and they become engaged. In the meantime, Ciro leaves to serve America in the Great War. But Enza has not seen the end of Ciro. The two meet again, and she finds that she must answer the questions that have haunted her since that first kiss on the mountain in the Italian Alps. Can she say goodbye to Ciro, for once and for all?

This is a novel about everlasting love, destiny (both manifested and otherwise), following your heart and taking risks in the pursuit of happiness. More than anything, this is the story of two Italian Immigrants trying to make their way to happiness in a time when everything was against them. The reality of this novel will strike the more sensitive readers brutally. Lives are lost, hearts are broken, and greatest fears are met-this tale is beautiful and moving, and at times, unbelievably heartbreaking.

If you loved The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman, The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough, which address love at it’s most painful and families that endure unbelievable strain, then this novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife, by Adriana Trigiani, is a must-read for you. And don’t be put off by the slow start-the story gets much better than you expect. I Promise.