The results are in for the Most Popular Books of April, and historical fiction won this round by a landslide. Check out which books topped the list and which other genres your fellow readers are enjoying as well!
Because they are two sets of twins, the four Latimer sisters are as close as can be. Yet each of these vivacious young women has her own dream for herself: Edda wants to be a doctor, Grace wants to marry, Tufts wants never to marry, and Kitty wishes to be known for something other than her beauty. They are famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit, and ambition, but as they step into womanhood at the beginning of the twentieth century, life holds limited prospects for them. Together they decide to enroll in a training program for nurses—a new option for women of their time. As the Latimer sisters become immersed in hospital life and the demands of their training, each must make weighty decisions about love, career, and what she values most. The results are sometimes happy, sometimes heartbreaking, but always . . . bittersweet.
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Colleen McCullough’s new, romantic Australian novel about four unforgettable sisters taking their places in life during the tumultuous years after World War I is “just as epic as her ultra-romantic classic, The Thorn Birds” (Marie Claire).
Because they are two sets of twins, the four Latimer sisters are as close as can be. Yet each of these vivacious young women has her own dream for herself: Edda wants to be a doctor, Grace wants to marry, Tufts wants never to marry, and Kitty wishes to be known for something other than her beauty. They are famous throughout New South Wales for their beauty, wit, and ambition, but as they step into womanhood at the beginning of the twentieth century, life holds limited prospects for them.
Together they decide to enroll in a training program for nurses—a new option for women of their time. As the Latimer sisters become immersed in hospital life and the demands of their training, each must make weighty decisions about love, career, and what she values most. The results are sometimes happy, sometimes heartbreaking, but always…bittersweet.
Set against the background of a young and largely untamed nation, “filled with humor, insight, and captivating historical detail, McCullough’s latest is a wise and warm tribute to family, female empowerment, and her native land” (People).
King Richard III was made famous by Shakespeare as the dastardly murderer of his nephews in his quest for the English throne. But in THE DAUGHTER OF TIME, when a Scotland Yard inspector, stuck in bed with a broken leg, decides to investigate this allegation, he discovers a compelling mystery that soon obsesses him. A classic and unputdownable novel that has inspired generations, THE DAUGHTER OF TIME is a thoroughly unique and compelling detective tale that will change the way you look at history.
"One of the best mysteries of all time" (The New York Times)—Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous—and vicious—crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard.
Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains—a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.
The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.
Set in Scotland in the 1950s, A. D. Scott’s story begins with a young boy’s shocking murder and the many possible suspects in the Sottish Highlands, where the author was born and raised. When a local youth, Jamie, is discovered dead in the canal locks, two young girls provide a wild tale of his disappearance, including visions of a malicious folkloric figure, that seems too outlandish to be true. The typist at the town’s newspaper, Joanna Ross, and her respected journalist boss take it upon themselves to investigate the crime. A Polish immigrant, in the harbor on the night of Jamie’s disappearance, quickly becomes the prime suspect, but the newspaper staff has other ideas. After following several leads, including following up with a town priest and owners of a nearby Italian cafe, it seems the young girls may have been telling the truth—or part of it. A delightful mystery that is equally as satisfying to unravel, A SMALL DEATH IN THE GREAT GLEN offers an entertaining mystery in a rich historical setting.
In the Highlands of 1950s Scotland, a boy is found dead and two young girls have an unbelievably fanciful explanation for his disappearance. When the local newspaper staff set out to find the truth, the townspeople’s dark pasts threaten to prevent the crime from ever being solved.
I can’t say exactly what switched in the plot that made me stay up all night, without giving too much away, but, basically, once you get about halfway through the book you won’t be able to put it down. Luckily for me, that happened at about midnight. The story follows Feyi Adekola five years after a horrible accident killed her husband. She’s still struggling to date seriously again, but when things start heating up with Nasir, she thinks she might be ready. He invites her to his rich father’s island home, where she’s treated to a luxurious vacation. It’s perfect—until her feelings get in the way. I’m a sucker for any plot where the character has to hide a secret and every chapter gets closer to the big reveal. And this one does it so well. Pair that excellent premise with one of the most intense, believable love stories, and there was no hope for me to put the book on pause. But be warned, you should have some food on hand while you read; one of the characters is a celebrity chef and you’ll be craving all the food.
Read more of Staff Picks: 5 Books We Stayed Up All Night Reading
A New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and “one of our greatest living writers” (Shondaland) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.
Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.
It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.
She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?
Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.
It is 1892 on a vast estate in the north of Ireland and Harriet, an aristocratic mother of nine who has managed to beat eight of her children into a form of submission, is losing the battle to control her youngest daughter, Charlotte. Unable to cope with Charlotte’s stubbornness, Harriet locks her in a cabinet, a common enough punishment in the household, and one all the girl’s brothers have endured more than once. Hours later, having been forgotten, Charlotte’s lifeless body is found in the cupboard by her distraught mother and a housemaid. Harriet is subsequently arrested for causing her death. The story of Charlotte and what happened that day is told in the alternating voices of Harriet, in diary entries she made during the year she spent in jail for the murder, and Maddie, the housemaid turned nanny whose part in the death is not revealed until the final pages.
This is the kind of book you read and have to talk to someone about immediately. It is a perfect book club book or one to pass around during vacation—the only drawback is that you will hound the other reader to find out when they will finish.
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When former nanny Maddie McGlade receives a letter from the last of her charges, she realizes the time has come to unburden herself of a secret she has kept for more than seventy years: the truth behind the death of Charlotte Ormond, the four-year-old daughter of the wealthy household where Maddie was employed as a young woman. Based on chilling events that actually took place in the north of Ireland in 1892, this is a dark, emotionally complex novel that explores the dark side of turn-of-the century aristocracy. Charlotte's mother, Harriet Osmond, is violent, abusive, and (what else?) an avid lepidopterist.
THE PATRON SAINT OF SECOND CHANCES is the funniest book I read and edited during the recent pandemic years. Although the novel takes place in Calabria—and the setting is important—depicting the accuracy of the village life is not really the aim in this brilliant and delightful farce. The novel follows Signor Speranza (“Mister Hope”), a vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of his small hometown. In a bid to boost tourism, he invents a rumor that a famous Italian film star is shooting his next movie in town. The only problem is, there is no such film. Soon the entire town becomes involved in its creation, believing the star will soon show up. But whether or not he ever does is almost an afterthought in this fun, brisk, lighthearted novel about the power of community.
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The self-appointed mayor of a tiny Italian village is determined to save his hometown no matter the cost in this charming, hilarious, and heartwarming debut novel.
Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all its residents will be forced to disperse. So in a bid to boost tourism—and revenue—he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.
Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone in town wants to be a part of the fictional film—the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that’s not so secretly based on his undying love for the film’s leading lady. To his surprise—and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.
As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!) Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn’t show up? Or worse, what if he does?
A “hilariously funny and beautifully written” (Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Better Luck Next Time) novel about the power of community, The Patron Saint of Second Chances is perfect for fans of Fredrik Backman and Maria Semple.
It is 1939 in Paris, and librarian Odile’s idyllic life is destroyed when the Nazis invade. Odile becomes part of the Resistance, determined to defend the library and the city she loves. But when the war ends, she faces a betrayal that destroys the life she’s built all over again. Decades later, in 1983, lonely teen Lily, living in Montana, strikes up a friendship with her mysterious elderly neighbor. Connecting over their shared love of languages, they discover they have much more in common than they ever thought possible in this heart-rending tale of loss and forgiveness.
An instant New York Times, Washington Post, and USA TODAY bestseller—based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II—The Paris Library is a moving and unforgettable “ode to the importance of libraries, books, and the human connections we find within both” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author).
Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet seems to have the perfect life with her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into the city, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.
Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.
“A love letter to Paris, the power of books, and the beauty of intergenerational friendship” (Booklist), The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest places.
Alternating between present day and 1918, BLUEBIRD, by Genevieve Graham, is a dazzling novel about the Great War and the postwar Prohibition era. Cassie, a museum curator, loves solving mysteries from the past. She has a particular interest in a family of bootleggers who ferried illegal booze across the Detroit River during Prohibition. Flash back to 1918, where Corporal Jeremiah Bailey is wounded in a mines explosion in Canada. He wakes in a hospital under the care of “bluebirds,” Canadian nurses nicknamed for their blue gowns and white caps. By the end of the war, Jerry has returned home to Windsor, scarred by the horrors he witnessed overseas. After reconnecting with the one nurse he fell for during his recovery, the two realize there are exciting opportunities to take hold of during the Prohibition in their city. But with the opportunities comes dangerous conflict, which threatens to destroy all they have built. Based on real events and persons in WWI, this is a dramatic and fascinating story.
A dazzling novel set during the Great War and postwar Prohibition about a young nurse, a soldier, and a family secret that binds them together for generations to come—from USA TODAY and repeat #1 bestselling author Genevieve Graham.
Cassie Simmons, a museum curator, is enthusiastic about solving mysteries from the past, and she has a personal interest in the history of the rumrunners who ferried illegal booze across the Detroit River during Prohibition. So when a cache of whisky labeled Bailey Brothers’ Best is unearthed during a local home renovation, Cassie hopes to find the answers she’s been searching for about the legendary family of bootleggers...
Corporal Jeremiah Bailey of the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company is tasked with planting mines in the tunnels beneath enemy trenches. After Jerry is badly wounded in an explosion, he finds himself in a Belgium field hospital under the care of Adele Savard, one of Canada’s nursing sisters, nicknamed “Bluebirds” for their blue gowns and white caps. As Jerry recovers, he forms a strong connection with Adele, who is from a place near his hometown of Windsor, along the Detroit River. In the midst of war, she’s a welcome reminder of home, and when Jerry is sent back to the front, he can only hope that he’ll see his bluebird again.
By war’s end, both Jerry and Adele return home to Windsor, scarred by the horrors of what they endured overseas. When they cross paths one day, they have a chance to start over. But the city is in the grip of Prohibition, which brings exciting opportunities as well as new dangerous conflicts that threaten to destroy everything they have fought for.
Pulled from the pages of history, Bluebird is a compelling, luminous novel about the strength of the human spirit and the power of love to call us home.
A New York Times Best Mystery Novel of 2021, Naomi’s Hirahara’s CLARK AND DIVISION tells the tale of a Japanese American family’s life in the wake of their tragic internment by the US government following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Aki Ito’s family was slowly making progress in the United States before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when they’re then sent to Manzanar internment camp in 1942. Within a year, the Ito family’s eldest, Rose, the “star child,” is designated to serve as a “pro-American” of Japanese heritage and is relocated to Chicago—where her boyfriend follows her months later. When Aki and the Ito family are released from the camp, anticipating a loving reunion, they are stunned to find out Rose has died in a subway train “accident” deemed to be a suicide. Aki, refusing to believe her sister could have done such a thing, sets out to uncover the truth, battling prejudice and racism along the way. Set against the backdrop of one of America’s most shameful chapters, Hirahara’s novel weaves an intricate mystery plot with an effective coming-of-age story. It’s genre-blending at its finest from a proven Edgar Award–winning author.
The basic formula of a family thriller is simple: a character’s little world is perfect until a horrible thing happens, and then everything they know about their family changes. And while ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL does follow that trope, it takes it even deeper. Sophie is shocked when her husband, politician James Whitehouse, is accused of raping his staffer Olivia. But there are more secrets lurking in the shadows of this case, along with some terrible truths about what people are and aren’t ready to accept about sexual assault. Smart, feminist, and compelling, this novel is bound to spark some interesting conversations.
Read more of 10 Provocative Thrillers I Can’t Stop Thinking About
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Instant International Bestseller
“A nuanced story line perfectly in tune with our #metoo times.” —People, Book of the Week
“One of the season’s most buzzed-about thrillers.” —Bookish
Some people’s secrets are darker than others.
Sophie Whitehouse has a lovely home, two adorable children, and a handsome, successful husband. In other words, she has the “perfect” life. But everything changes the night her husband James comes home and confesses an indiscretion. Suddenly, her neat, ordered world is turned upside down. Did she ever really know the man she married?
And, as it turns out, James’s revelation is just the tip of the iceberg. He stands accused of a terrible crime. But, the truth is even more shocking than anyone ever could have thought. Is James the guilty perpetrator or an innocent victim of a toxic agenda?
In this riveting story of love, revenge, and deception, no one’s motives are pure, but some people’s secrets are much darker than others.
Photo credit: iStock / DmitriiSimakov