I was so excited when I heard Kate Morton had written a new novel. She is truly one of my favorite writers. Her stories are amazing. I was thrilled to have gotten early access to her newest novel, Homecoming, and as always was captivated from the first page. Morton’s novels have many layers that flow between the past and the present. They’re rife with rich descriptions and characters that come alive on the page. Her books and the books in this article are ones to get lost in—stories of strong and determined characters, of secrets and mysteries passed down through generations, and of healing, redemption, and love. Enjoy these beautifully written novels.
I fell into this book from the first page. The words and language took me into the world of four generations of women as they travel from Berlin to Havana to New York City and back to Berlin, over an eighty-year span from 1931 to 2015. This is a story of mothers and daughters, of love and loss, of fear and hope, of sacrifices made, and of the very essence that makes us who we are. From Ally to Lilith, Lilith to Nadine, and Nadine to Luna, each is connected to the others through the threads of time, facing their own challenges and their own destiny through unsettled places and unsettled times. They adapt to new ways of living yet always feel as though something is missing, and they’re always looking for home. I was touched by this novel and the strength and determination of each of these women.
Four generations of women experience love, loss, war, and hope from the rise of Nazism to the Cuban Revolution and finally, the fall of the Berlin Wall in this sweeping novel from the bestselling author of the “timely must-read” (People) The German Girl.
Berlin, 1931: Ally Keller, a talented young poet, is alone and scared when she gives birth to a mixed-race daughter she names Lilith. As the Nazis rise to power, Ally knows she must keep her baby in the shadows to protect her against Hitler’s deadly ideology of Aryan purity. But as she grows, it becomes more and more difficult to keep Lilith hidden so Ally sets in motion a dangerous and desperate plan to send her daughter across the ocean to safety.
Havana, 1958: Now an adult, Lilith has few memories of her mother or her childhood in Germany. Besides, she’s too excited for her future with her beloved Martin, a Cuban pilot with strong ties to the Batista government. But as the flames of revolution ignite, Lilith and her newborn daughter, Nadine, find themselves at a terrifying crossroads.
Berlin, 1988: As a scientist in Berlin, Nadine is dedicated to ensuring the dignity of the remains of all those who were murdered by the Nazis. Yet she has spent her entire lifetime avoiding the truth about her own family’s history. It takes her daughter, Luna, to encourage Nadine to uncover the truth about the choices her mother and grandmother made to ensure the survival of their children. And it will fall to Luna to come to terms with a shocking betrayal that changes everything she thought she knew about her family’s past.
Separated by time but united by sacrifice, four women embark on journeys of self-discovery and find themselves to be living testaments to the power of motherly love.
Moving among 1907, 1944, and 2021, Julia Kelly’s THE LAST GARDEN IN ENGLAND introduces us to the gardens of a large and beautiful country estate called Highbury House. In 1907, Venetia Smith, a well-known garden designer, is invited to create many different garden rooms for the estate, including a tea garden, a children’s garden, a bridal garden, and a winter garden. In 1944, during World War II, Diana Symonds, mistress of Highbury House, has turned the estate into a hospital and employed Beth Pedley as a land girl to work the House’s farm and Stella Adderton as the main cook. In 2021, Emma Lovett comes to Highbury House to restore the neglected gardens to Venetia Smith’s original design. As Emma researches and works in the gardens, she begins to uncover the long-buried secrets of the past, secrets that connect Venetia, Diana, Beth, and Stella. A warm, uplifting story of family, new beginnings, and love.
From the author of the international bestsellers The Light Over London and The Whispers of War comes “a compelling read, filled with lovable characters and an alluring twist of fates” (Ellen Keith, author of The Dutch Wife) about five women living across three different times whose lives are all connected by one very special garden.
Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.
1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.
1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.
“Gorgeously written and rooted in meticulous period detail, this novel is vibrant as it is stirring. Fans of historical fiction will fall in love with The Last Garden in England” (Roxanne Veletzos, author of The Girl They Left Behind).
Kristin Harmel’s THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is about a woman named Eva Traube Abrams, who is a semi-retired librarian living in Florida. One day at the library, Eva comes across a copy of the New York Times and sees a photo that stops her in her tracks: it’s an image of a book that she knows well but hasn’t seen in sixty-five years. Only Eva and one other person know it as The Book of Lost Names. In 1942, after Eva’s father was arrested, she was forced to leave Paris and found safety in a small mountain town, where she became a forger and helped to change the identities of Jewish children to protect them. Eva and another forger, Rémy, created a code to record the original names of many children in hopes that one day the code would help the children whose names were changed to reclaim their identities. A most powerful story of bravery and love.
“A fascinating, heartrending page-turner that, like the real-life forgers who inspired the novel, should never be forgotten.” —Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday
Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue) historical novel from the #1 international bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife.
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books when her eyes lock on a photograph in the New York Times. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in more than sixty years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer, but does she have the strength to revisit old memories?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris and find refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, where she began forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.
This story begins in the 1950s and alternates between the two distinct voices of Ruby Pearsall, a high school student in Philadelphia, and Eleanor Quarles, a college student at Howard University in Washington, DC. Ruby is determined to be the first in her family to attend college, while Eleanor works in Howard’s library and is on her way to becoming a talented archivist. They both have plans for their lives, but when Eleanor meets fellow college student William Pride and Ruby meets a neighbor named Shimmy, their trajectories change in unexpected ways. They both face challenges that will ultimately bring them closer to who they are and who they were meant to be. An unforgettable and powerful story.
From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, a daring and redemptive novel set in 1950s Philadelphia and Washington, DC, that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.
1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright.
Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his parents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.
With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.
I love the way Diane Setterfield tells a story—the way she sets the scene, the way she invites us in to sit for a while and spend time in the world she’s created, just like the patrons in ONCE UPON A RIVER who come from far and wide to the Swan Inn, set on the bank of the Thames, to sit by the warm fire and listen to a storyteller weave a tale. And so the story begins in this very inn, when on a cold winter’s night the front door suddenly bursts open and a mysterious stranger enters, carrying a small child in his arms. Both the girl and the man are cold and wet, having just come from the river. Who they are and how they came to be at the inn is a mystery. Soon everyone in town knows about the stranger and the child and begins to form their own opinions about their identities, including three families with children who have gone missing. Could this little girl belong to one of these families? A masterful tale of suspense and magic.
Set in Ecuador and the US and moving between the past and the present, THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUÍDEA DIVINA is a fascinating story. Orquídea Divina has led a complicated, vibrant, and interesting life. She even runs away from home to join the circus, where she meets a man who will become a force in her life, bringing both light and shadow. Orquídea will need all her courage to eventually leave this man behind. Traveling with her family to the US, Orquídea makes a home in a small town called Four Rivers. Inexplicable things begin to happen in this house, including the fact that Orquídea never leaves, not even for family celebrations. As Orquídea reaches the end of her life, however, she sends out invitations to her family asking them to come to Four Rivers to collect their inheritance. Will the secrets that have been hidden for so many years finally be revealed? This mysterious and intense story held my attention from the first page.
Perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Isabel Allende, and Sarah Addison Allen, a family searches for the truth hidden in their past in this “expertly woven tale of family power, threaded with as much mystery as magic” (V.E. Schwab, #1 New York Times bestselling author).
The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—not for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed into a ceiba tree, leaving them with more questions than answers.
Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings and powers. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, her descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.
Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a “spellbinding tale, both timeless and fresh, that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Prepare to fall in love” (Kim Liggett, New York Times bestselling author).
In Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1939, twenty-one-year-old Grace Baker is silently hanging laundry on a clothesline in her yard. Staring out at the water that sparkles before her, she thinks of all the boats she’s seen—fishing boats, canoes, and rowboats. Those were simpler days. Now, in the shadow of World War II, the boats she knew so well have been replaced by destroyers patrolling the shoreline. Grace thinks of her three brothers, whom she said goodbye to and watched go off to war. Everyone tells her that they will be home soon, but years later, Grace is still filling her days working at the small town’s general store and thinking of her brothers. One day, Rudi, a handsome stranger, comes into the store, claiming to be a trapper. Grace is immediately attracted to him and wants to know more about him. But when she discovers the truth that he’s hiding, Grace will be faced with a choice she never thought she would have to make. Heartwarming and poignant.
Inspired by a little-known World War II legend, a young woman and a stranger “from away” are caught on opposite sides of war in this enthralling novel about love and second chances from USA TODAY and #1 bestselling author Genevieve Graham.
In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts.
Three years later, the fighting rages on and the harsh realities of war come closer to home when rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window.
Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and, as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be. He is someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted.
When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.
Set against the tumultuous years of World War II, Come from Away is a mesmerizing story about strangers, enemies, and friends—and the power of love to transcend the barriers that keep us apart.
In 1629, nine-year-old Mayken, who recently lost her mother, is traveling with her nursemaid on the Batavia on its maiden voyage to the Dutch East Indies to go live with her father. Mayken makes friends easily as she satisfies her curiosity by exploring the ship. But during a storm, the Batavia is shipwrecked off an island, and the captain sails away to find help, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. What happens next, and what the passengers and Mayken experience, is terrifying. Jumping ahead to 1989, nine-year-old Gil is sent to live with his grandfather on an island off the west coast of Australia. He too has recently lost his mother. Lonely and quiet, Gil feels lost on this island as he tries to adjust to his new life with his grandfather, a distant man who’s difficult to live with—and then Gil begins to hear stories about a shipwreck from long ago. Based on a true story, THE NIGHT SHIP is well researched and riveting.
Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.
1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.
1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…
With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves a unputdownable and charming tale of friendship and sacrifice, brutality and forgiveness.
Rebecca is reeling from the loss of her mother, Jenny. When they begin the long work of going through their mother’s things in her flat, Rebecca and her siblings are surprised to find mail piled up against the front door. As Rebecca goes through the mail, she discovers a letter addressed to Jenny from Jenny’s cousin Olivia in Cornwall. In the letter, Olivia, who’s in her nineties, begs Jenny to come visit her and help her get her home, which she calls Chynalls, back in habitable condition. At first, Rebecca thinks nothing of this letter, but she soon decides that she might be able to help Olivia. When Rebecca arrives at Chynalls, she finds that Olivia is in the hospital and won’t be allowed to go home until repairs have been made. Rebecca agrees to restore Chynalls, and while doing so begins to uncover secrets that Olivia has kept throughout her long life—secrets of romance and mystery from her youth. As she uncovers the older woman’s life bit by bit, Rebecca comes to admire Olivia. A beautifully written story.
A broken family, a house of secrets—an entrancing tale of love and courage set during the Second World War.
After Rebecca’s mother dies, she must sort through her empty flat and come to terms with her loss. As she goes through her mother’s mail, she finds a handwritten envelope. In it is a letter that will change her life forever.
Olivia, her mother’s elderly cousin, needs help to save her beloved home. Rebecca immediately goes to visit Olivia in Cornwall only to find a house full of secrets—treasures in the attic and a mysterious tunnel leading from the cellar to the sea, and Olivia, nowhere to be found.
As it turns out, the old woman is stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her house is made habitable again. Rebecca sets to work restoring the home to its former glory, but as she peels back the layers of paint and grime, she uncovers even more buried secrets—secrets from a time when the Second World War was raging, when Olivia was a young woman, and when both romance and danger lurked around every corner...
A sweeping and utterly spellbinding tale of a young woman’s courage in the face of war and the lengths to which she’ll go to protect those she loves against the most unexpected of enemies.
On Christmas Eve in 1959 in a town in South Australia, Isabel Turner is preparing a holiday picnic for herself and her children; several hours later, tragedy befalls the Turner family. Sixty years later we meet Jess Turner-Bridges, a journalist from Australia who lives in London but feels like neither place is truly home. For Jess, home is her grandmother Nora’s house, where she was raised when Jess’s mother, Polly, wasn’t around. When Jess receives a phone call telling her that Nora has had an accident, she travels back to Australia. While staying at Nora’s house, she discovers a book about the Turner tragedy hidden in Nora’s bedroom. Jess begins to investigate and slowly uncovers the truth about what exactly happened to the Turner family on that Christmas Eve. Will Jess also discover some truths about her own family—and, if so, will uncovering these truths help her to finally find her way home? This is a story about secrets, loss, mothers and daughters, and coming home.
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