The Coastal Grandmother Aesthetic: even if you’ve never heard of it, you know exactly what it looks like. Breezy button-downs, soft-worn khakis, nautical stripes and coastal pastels. But this trend is more than just the clothes available in an L.L. Bean catalog; it’s a settling, a lifestyle, a mood. If you are looking to unlock this fresh and meditative feeling, just pick up one of these perfect books for the coastal grandmother aesthetic, each one filled with a gust of simultaneously revitalizing and relaxing energy. With atmospheric seaside settings; insightful reflections on life, love, and loss; and emotionally nuanced internal conflicts, these books capture not just the look but the essence of your coastal grandmother or granddaughter daydreams.
Teenaged Hazel and her younger sister, Flora, have been sent to a small village to escape World War II–ravaged London. There, they fill their time with games of make believe in the woods, until Flora goes missing. Years later, Hazel receives a mysterious book, one that seems to know all the secrets of the fairy tale world she invented to keep her sister entertained. Now, Hazel must follow the book to rediscover the relationships of her past and unearth what really happened to her sister.
When a woman stumbles across a mysterious children’s book, long-held secrets about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World War II are revealed in this “transporting, heartfelt, and atmospheric” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author) novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
1939: Fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora evacuate their London home for a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the Aberdeen family in a charming stone cottage, Hazel distracts her young sister with a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own: Whisperwood.
But the unthinkable happens when Flora suddenly vanishes after playing near the banks of the River Thames. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, carrying the guilt into adulthood.
Twenty years later, Hazel is back in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore for a career at Sotheby’s. With a cherished boyfriend and an upcoming Paris getaway, Hazel’s future seems set. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing a picture book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the storybook world she created just for Flora. Could this book hold the secrets to Flora’s disappearance? Could it be a sign that her beloved sister is still alive after all these years? Or is something sinister at play?
For fans of Kate Morton, Janet Skeslien Charles, and Kristin Hannah, this is a “fantastical” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) celebration of sisterhood and the magic of storytelling wrapped up in a “heartrending, captivating tale of family, first love, and fate” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author).
Laura Martinez is jarred from her busy everyday life as a wife, nurse, and mother when she finds out that her own estranged mother, Helen, has had a stroke. In an attempt to convince Helen that life is worth living, Laura takes her mother to Sea Escape, the beach house where Helen has stored the love letters her husband sent her during the Vietnam War. As Laura reads the letters to her mother, she uncovers her parents’ complicated love story and learns that more might connect her life with her mother’s than she thought.
Acclaimed novelist and nationally recognized family expert Lynne Griffin returns with Sea Escape—an emotional, beautifully imagined story inspired by the author’s family letters about the ties that bind mothers and daughters.
Laura Martinez is wedged in the middle place, grappling with her busy life as a nurse, wife, and devoted mom to her two young children when her estranged mother, Helen, suffers a devastating stroke. In a desperate attempt to lure her mother into choosing life, Laura goes to Sea Escape, the pristine beach home that Helen took refuge in after the death of her beloved husband, Joseph. There, Laura hunts for the legendary love letters her father wrote to her mother when he served as a reporter for the Associated Press during wartime Vietnam.
Believing the beauty and sway of her father’s words will have the power to heal, Laura reads the letters bedside to her mother, a woman who once spoke the language of fabric—of Peony Sky in Jade and Paradise Garden Sage—but who can’t or won’t speak to her now. As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, she becomes increasingly determined to save her mother. As each letter reveals a patchwork detail of her parents’ marriage, she discovers a common thread: a secret that mother and daughter unknowingly share.
Weaving back and forth from Laura’s story to her mother’s, beginning in the idyllic 1950s with Helen’s love affair with Joseph through the tumultuous Vietnam War period on to the present, Sea Escape takes a gratifying look at what women face in their everyday lives—the balancing act of raising capable and happy children and being accomplished and steadfast wives while still being gracious and good daughters. It is a story that opens the door to family secrets so gripping, you won’t be able to put this book down until each is revealed.
Isabel, Kat, and June, three girls who were all raised together, are called to their matriarch Lolly’s inn on the coast of Maine. There they receive earth-shattering news that leaves them sharing an attic apartment with one another but feeling more distant than ever. When Lolly insists they join the inn’s patrons for movie night during Meryl Streep Month, the women find that the movies make them reflect on their own current life crises and unlock their ability to speak about them with each other.
In the bestselling tradition of The Friday Night Knitting Club and The Jane Austen Book Club, three women find unexpected answers, happiness, and one another, using Meryl Streep’s movies as their inspiration.
Two sisters and the cousin they grew up with after a tragedy are summoned home to their family matriarch’s inn on the coast of Maine for a shocking announcement. Suddenly, Isabel, June, and Kat are sharing the attic bedroom—and barely speaking. But when innkeeper Lolly asks them to join her and the guests in the parlor for weekly Movie Night—it’s Meryl Streep month—they find themselves sharing secrets, talking long into the night... and questioning everything they thought they knew about life, love, and one another.
Each woman sees her complicated life reflected through the magic of cinema: Isabel’s husband is having an affair, and an old pact may keep her from what she wants most...June has promised her seven-year-old son that she will somehow find his father, who he’s never known...and Kat is ambivalent about accepting her lifelong best friend’s marriage proposal. Through everything, Lolly has always been there for them, and now Isabel, June, Kat—and Meryl—must be there for her. Finding themselves. Finding each other. Finding a happy ending.
The first in the Fairmile series, this atmospheric novel is just the beginning of a moving family saga by bestselling author Philippa Gregory. It’s seventeenth-century England; landscapes and communities both have been ravaged by civil war. In the country’s remote tidelands, Alinor, a mystical woman living alone, binds her future to that of a mysterious fugitive. The distrust and dangers that result expose what it means to be a woman with desires, particularly in unstable times dictated by fear and superstition.
This New York Times bestseller from “one of the great storytellers of our time” (San Francisco Book Review) turns from the glamour of the royal courts to tell the story of an ordinary woman, Alinor, living in a dangerous time for a woman to be different.
On Midsummer’s Eve, Alinor waits in the church graveyard, hoping to encounter the ghost of her missing husband and thus confirm his death. Until she can, she is neither maiden nor wife nor widow, living in a perilous limbo. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.
England is in the grip of a bloody civil war that reaches into the most remote parts of the kingdom. Alinor’s suspicious neighbors are watching each other for any sign that someone might be disloyal to the new parliament, and Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her as a woman who doesn’t follow the rules. They have always whispered about the sinister power of Alinor’s beauty, but the secrets they don’t know about her and James are far more damning. This is the time of witch-mania, and if the villagers discover the truth, they could take matters into their own hands.
“This is Gregory par excellence” (Kirkus Reviews). “Fans of Gregory’s works and of historicals in general will delight in this page-turning tale” (Library Journal, starred review) that is “superb… A searing portrait of a woman that resonates across the ages” (People).
In bestselling author Kate Morton’s first novel, THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON, Grace has been working as a servant for the Hartford family—and particularly daughters Hannah and Emmeline—since before World War I. But in the late 1920s, a young poet shoots himself while in the house at a party, and only Hannah, Emmeline, and Grace know what really happened. Years later, in Grace’s final years of life, a young filmmaker takes her back to Riverton House to hear the story of that fateful summer, in all its darkly romantic, wistfully nostalgic, and devastatingly real glory.
Kate Morton may just be the queen of the coastal grandmother aesthetic read so be sure to check out this list of Books for Kate Morton Fans to Read Next!
Set in interwar Britain, this gorgeous debut novel is the story of a decades-old suicide at an aristocratic manor home, relived through the eyes of the ninety-eight-year-old former housemaid. In a classic case of the servant knowing all, her memories of that long-ago night are the key to shocking secrets and heartbreaking truths.
Advice columnist Hope loves her partner, but when she discovers he’s been leading a double life she decides to get away to start fresh. Meanwhile, Rebecca is exhausted from her life as a wife and mother and needs some time for herself, even if it causes trouble for her family. Finally, Theodore may be a successful screenwriter, but his personal life is in shambles after he finds himself acting as guardian to his half-siblings. For one summer, these three strangers will come together on an island off the coast of South Carolina, hoping their lives can still change.
From national bestselling author Rochelle Alers comes the unforgettable story of three strangers whose lives are forever changed on a sultry island off the South Carolina coast.
Dr. Hope Sutton has everything she's always wanted: a winning career as an advice columnist and a hard-lovin' man who is not afraid to commit. But just when she's ready to settle down she finds out her man's been living a double life. Now she has to get a new one of her own—starting with a soul-searching trip to McKinnon Island. Rebecca Owns is a devoted wife and stay-at-home mother in desperate need of a vacation—alone. But will spending the summer on McKinnon Island help her to get it together...or will she be tearing her family apart? Theodore Howell has had a lot of success as a screenwriter. But his personal life? It's a mess. Suddenly the guardian of two half brothers and a half sister, how will this tried-and-true bachelor find room in his life for surrogate fatherhood and his demanding career? Their answers lie somewhere on sandy shores...
Just displaying this book face-out on the bookshelves might be enough to match your coastal grandmother aesthetic, but the content inside provides an equally cathartic story to match the cover. In this literary-suspense-meets-coming-of-age story, twelve-year-old Pierce is still devastated from the death of his father, a fisherman who went missing off the coast of Newfoundland three years ago. Pierce’s small, isolated fishing community is struggling to survive, and when a teen with whom Pierce had a connection, Anna, goes missing, Pierce and his friends are determined to find out the truth of what happened to her. Their journey brings them face to face with sea monsters, storms, and mysterious fisherman, the challenges of man and nature alike.
From the writer and producer of the hit TV shows Republic of Doyle and Son of a Critch, a poignant coming-of-age debut novel about the mysterious disappearance of a young girl and the fragility of childhood bonds, set against the backdrop of a small island community adapting to an ever-changing landscape.
In 1991, on a small, isolated island off the coast of Newfoundland, twelve-year-old Pierce Jacobs struggles to come to terms with the death of his father. It’s been three years since his dad, a fisherman, disappeared in the cold, unforgiving Atlantic, his body never recovered. Pierce is determined to save enough money to fix his father’s old boat and take it out to sea. But life on the island is quiet and hard. The local fishing industry is on the brink of collapse, threatening to take an ages-old way of life with it. The community is hit even harder when a young teen named Anna Tessier goes missing.
With the help of his three friends, Pierce sets out to find Anna, with whom he shared an unusual but special bond. They soon cross paths with Solomon Vickers, a mysterious, hermetic fisherman who may have something to do with the missing girl. Their search brings them into contact with unrelenting bullies, magnificent sea creatures, fierce storms, and glacial giants. But most of all, it brings them closer to the brutal reality of both the natural and the modern world.
Part coming-of-age story, part literary mystery, and part suspense thriller, Closer by Sea is a page-turning, poignant, and powerful novel about family, friendship, and community set at a pivotal time in modern Newfoundland history. It is an homage to a people and a place, and above all it captures that delicate and tender moment when the wonder of childhood innocence gives way to the harsh awakening of adult experience.
Wexford, Ireland: Nora has just lost the love of her life, who rescued her from her stifling hometown. She’s left with four children and no money, and that same hometown threatens to drag her under all over again. While Nora withdraws, harming the people around her and her children with her coolness, she also discovers moments of great empathy in new and startling ways. By award-winning, critically acclaimed writer Colm Tóibín, NORA WEBSTER is an insightful, awe-inspiring look at one woman’s mourning process and its effects on those around her.
From one of contemporary literature’s bestselling, critically acclaimed, and beloved authors: a “luminous” novel (Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review) about a fiercely compelling young widow navigating grief, fear, and longing, and finding her own voice—“heartrendingly transcendant” (The New York Times, Janet Maslin).
Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s magnificent seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable, and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be sucked back into it. Wounded, selfish, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning insight and empathy, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven—herself.
Nora Webster “may actually be a perfect work of fiction” (Los Angeles Times), by a “beautiful and daring” writer (The New York Times Book Review) at the zenith of his career, able to “sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations” (USA TODAY). “Miraculous...Tóibín portrays Nora with tremendous sympathy and understanding” (Ron Charles, The Washington Post).
In this romantic and haunting novel, Ella escapes her loveless engagement and her controlling mother by leaving behind aristocratic London society to return to her aunt’s cottage in Connemara, a small village on the coast of Ireland. There, Ella is captivated by the ruins of an old lighthouse where a young mother died in a fire five years ago. That young mother, Caitlin, now haunts the lighthouse, longingly keeping watch over her husband and son. But when her husband begins to fall in love again, will Caitlin be able to let him go?
Set in Ireland on the wild coast of Connemara, this hauntingly romantic novel tells the story of a young woman who goes in search of her family’s past and ends up discovering her future.
Ellen Trawton is running away from it all. She hates her job, she doesn’t love the aristocratic man to whom she is engaged, and her relationship with her controlling mother is becoming increasingly strained. So Ellen leaves London, fleeing to the one place she knows her mother won’t find her, her aunt’s cottage in Connemara. Cutting all her ties with chic London society, Ellen gives in to Ireland’s charm and warmth, thinking her future may lie where so much of her past has been hidden. Her imagination is soon captured by the compelling ruins of a lighthouse where, five years earlier, a young mother died in a fire.
The ghost of the young wife, Caitlin, haunts the nearby castle, mourning the future she can never have there. Unable to move on, she watches her husband and children, hoping they might see her and feel her love once more. But she doesn’t anticipate her husband falling in love again. Can she prevent it? Or can she let go and find a way to freedom and happiness?
The ruggedly beautiful Connemara coastline with its tightknit community of unforgettable characters provides the backdrop for this poignant story of two women seeking the peace and love they desperately need. For each, the key will be found in the secrets of the past, illuminated by the lighthouse.
In 1953 Tehran, teenaged Roya finds solace in Mr. Fakhri’s bookish and beautiful stationary shop. Ever the matchmaker, Mr. Fakhri soon sets Roya up with his other regular customer, Bahman, a man filled with passion for justice and poetry. Soon, the two are engaged, but on the eve of their wedding, a coup d’état shakes the foundation of everything they know, and Bahman disappears without a trace. Years later, Roya has built a new life for herself in America but is given the chance to return to Tehran and confront Bahman about the life she almost led.
A poignant, heartfelt new novel by the award-nominated author of Together Tea—extolled by the Wall Street Journal as a “moving tale of lost love” and by Shelf Awareness as “a powerful, heartbreaking story”—explores loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.
Roya, a dreamy, idealistic teenager living amid the political upheaval of 1953 Tehran, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood stationery shop, stocked with books and pens and bottles of jewel-colored ink.
Then Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—and she loses her heart at once. Their romance blossoms, and the little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.
A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square when violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she moves on—to college in California, to another man, to a life in New England—until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did you leave? Where did you go? How is it that you were able to forget me?
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