Christina Baker Kline has a way with words—as evidenced by her bestselling books THE ORPHAN TRAIN and THE EXILES, and by how she manages to get us to add to our, already overflowing, to-be-read pile with just a sentence or two. So, if you’ve got yourself on a book-buying ban this month, then proceed with caution. But if you want to get your hands on some propulsive books, look no further than this list of electrifying recommendations from Christina Baker Kline.
“FELLOWSHIP POINT is a marvel. Intricately constructed, utterly unique, this novel set on the coast of Maine is filled with insights about writing, about the perils and freedoms of aging, about the great mysteries, as well as the pleasures, of life. The story about the relationships between three women unfolds, as life does, through joys and losses, confrontations and confessions, with twists along the way that change your perception of all that came before. This is a world is so closely and acutely observed that I felt I lived in it. I was sorry to leave.” — Christina Baker Kline
THE PERFECT GIFT FOR MOTHER’S DAY!
“A magnificent storytelling feat” (The Boston Globe) story of lifelong friendship between two very different “superbly depicted” (The Wall Street Journal) women with shared histories, divisive loyalties, hidden sorrows, and eighty years of summers on a pristine point of land on the coast of Maine, set across the arc of the 20th century.
Celebrated children’s book author Agnes Lee is determined to secure her legacy—to complete what she knows will be the final volume of her pseudonymously written Franklin Square novels; and even more consuming, to permanently protect the peninsula of majestic coast in Maine known as Fellowship Point. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. And one of those shareholders is her best friend, Polly.
Polly Wister has led a different kind of life than Agnes: that of a well-off married woman with children, defined by her devotion to her husband, a philosophy professor with an inflated sense of stature. She strives to create beauty and harmony in her home, in her friendships, and in her family. Polly soon finds her loyalties torn between the wishes of her best friend and the wishes of her three sons—but what is it that Polly wants herself?
Agnes’s designs are further muddied when an enterprising young book editor named Maud Silver sets out to convince Agnes to write her memoirs. Agnes’s resistance cannot prevent long-buried memories and secrets from coming to light with far-reaching repercussions for all.
“An ambitious and satisfying tale” (The Washington Post), Fellowship Point reads like a 19th-century epic, but it is entirely contemporary in its “reflections on aging, writing, stewardship, legacies, independence, and responsibility. At its heart, Fellowship Point is about caring for the places and people we love...This magnificent novel affirms that change and growth are possible at any age” (The Christian Science Monitor).
“Kate Manning is a master storyteller. GILDED MOUNTAIN is so immersive, so richly imagined, that reading it feels akin to time travel. Manning writes historical sagas like no one else; the dreamers, strivers, and opportunists who populate this tale possess a uniquely American desire to reinvent themselves, whatever it takes. An epic story of love, hope and perseverance.” — Christina Baker Kline
Set in early 1900s Colorado, the unforgettable tale of a young woman who bravely faces the consequences of speaking out against injustice.
In a voice spiked with sly humor, Sylvie Pelletier recounts leaving her family’s snowbound mountain cabin to work in a manor house for the Padgetts, owners of the marble-mining company that employs her father and dominates the town. Sharp-eyed Sylvie is awed by the luxury around her; fascinated by her employer, the charming “Countess” Inge, and confused by the erratic affections of Jasper, the bookish heir to the family fortune. Her fairy-tale ideas of romance take a dark turn when she realizes the Padgetts’ lofty philosophical talk is at odds with the unfair labor practices that have enriched them. Their servants, the Gradys, formerly enslaved people, have long known this to be true and are making plans to form a utopian community on the Colorado prairie.
Outside the manor walls, the town of Moonstone is roiling with discontent. A handsome union organizer, along with labor leader Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, is stirring up the quarry workers. The editor of the local newspaper—a bold woman who takes Sylvie on as an apprentice—is publishing unflattering accounts of the Padgett Company. Sylvie navigates vastly different worlds and struggles to find her way amid conflicting loyalties. When the harsh winter brings tragedy, Sylvie must choose between silence and revenge.
Drawn from true stories of Colorado history, Gilded Mountain is a tale of a bygone American West seized by robber barons and settled by immigrants, and is a story infused with longing—for self-expression and equality, freedom and adventure.
“George masterfully concocts a story of people seeking solace, redemption, and answers to the questions that plague them. Like ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, THE PARIS HOURS explores the brutality of war and its lingering effects with cinematic intensity. The ending will leave you breathless.” — Christina Baker Kline
“SEND FOR ME is a rare and beautiful novel. In luminous prose, with great economy and precision, Lauren Fox twines together two stories: one that explores both the menace and the day-to-day ordinariness of life in Germany under Hitler, and its aftermath, and one that captures the yearning and intensity of youth in the present day. While sorrow may be inevitable, Fox seems to say, life is also threaded with hope and joy and human connection. I loved this book.” — Christina Baker Kline
“A sweeping epic that is also startlingly intimate, OUT OF DARKNESS, SHINING LIGHT is a revelation. In luminous prose, Petina Gappah gives voice to people silenced by history, allowing them the full scope of their humanity, from petty gossip to self-righteous evangelism to romantic longings and dreams for the future. She grapples with what it means to explore other cultures, to seek answers to the questions ‘what if?’ and ‘what else?’ In doing so, she holds a funhouse mirror up to colonialist narratives like HEART OF DARKNESS, revealing their distortions.” — Christina Baker Kline
“Engrossing, beautiful, and deeply imaginative” (Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing), this epic novel about the explorer David Livingstone and the extraordinary group of Africans who carry his body across impossible terrain “illuminates the agonies of colonialism and blind loyalty” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
“This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of...David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.”
So begins Petina Gappah’s “searing…poignant” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) novel of exploration and adventure in 19th-century Africa—the captivating story of the African men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone’s body, papers, and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor’s sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, his rigidly pious secretary, this is a “powerful novel, beautifully told” (Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing) that encompasses all of the hypocrisy of slavery and colonization—the hypocrisy of humanity—while celebrating resilience, loyalty, and love.
“How much stress can a marriage take? Tish Cohen answers this question with skill and artistry, capturing subtle shifts in mood and feeling as she escalates the pressure on her characters. They’re forced to face their own foibles and weaknesses as well as each other’s as they confront the mystery at the heart of this story. Atmospheric and compulsively readable.” — Christina Baker Kline
For fans of Jodi Picoult and Anna Quindlen, comes an “astonishingly profound…exquisitely written drama” (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You) about a husband and a wife, a missing child, and the complicated family secrets that can derail even the best of marriages.
It’s been a busy—and expensive—few years for Matt and Elise Sorenson and their young daughter Gracie, whom they affectionately call Little Green. Matt, a Manhattan lawyer, has just been offered a partnership, and Elise’s equestrian ambitions as a competitive dressage rider may finally vault her into the Olympics. But her long absences from home and endless hours of training have strained their relationships nearly to the breaking point.
Now they’re up in the Adirondacks, preparing to sell the valuable lakefront cabin that’s been in Matt’s family for generations. Both he and Elise agree it’s time to let it go. But as they navigate the memories the cabin holds—and come face to face with Matt’s teenage crush, now an unnervingly attractive single mother living right next door—Gracie disappears without a trace.
Faced with the possibility that they’ll never see their daughter again, Elise and Matt struggle to come to terms with what their future may bring. The fate of the family property, the history of this not-so-tiny town, and the limits of Matt and Elise’s love for each other are inextricably bound up with Gracie’s disappearance. Everything for the Sorenson family is about to change—the messy tangle of their past, the harrowing truth of their present, and whether or not their love will survive a parent’s worst nightmare.
“An explosive moment that shatters generations, a buried trauma, the unspoken weight of history: In this original and beautifully rendered novel, two women, strangers to each other, hold pieces of a puzzle they can only construct together. Weaving fact and fiction to paint the evolution of a family over the sweep of a century, Lisa Gornick plumbs the connections that transform lives in a book that is both gripping and elegantly nuanced.” — Christina Baker Kline
“A fascinating novel about a young, struggling artist mentored by the celebrated jeweler and stained-glass creator Louis Comfort Tiffany. TIFFANY BLUES brings together an enchanting glimpse of Jazz Age New York and an inspired fictional story about Jenny Bell and the terrible secret she's hiding.”— Christina Baker Kline
The New York Times bestselling author of The Library of Light and Shadow crafts “an enchanting glimpse of Jazz Age New York” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train) about a young painter whose traumatic past threatens to derail her career at a prestigious summer artists’ colony run by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany & Co. fame.
New York, 1924: Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid all distractions and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.
But Jenny’s past has followed her there. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.
As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone else knows about Jenny’s childhood trauma.
Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.
“This fast-paced mystery, star-crossed romance, and love letter to Louis Comfort Tiffany will captivate Rose’s many fans and readers of 20th-century historical fiction” (Library Journal, starred review).
“History comes alive in this immensely readable novel. Therese Anne Fowler takes us behind the velvet drapes of the Vanderbilt mansions in the late 19th century, exposing a world of passions and betrayal in which all is not as it seems. A WELL-BEHAVED WOMAN is an extraordinary portrait of a strong, fascinating woman who rose above societal convention and even her own expectations to become so much more than anyone might have predicted.” — Christina Baker Kline
“PETE AND ALICE IN MAINE is a tender, big-hearted, clear-eyed portrait of a marriage, and a family, in crisis—set during the plague years when the entire world was in crisis. As she investigates the insidious effect of lies, betrayal, fear, and anger, not to mention the mundane joys and wrenching heartaches of everyday life, Caitlin Shetterly gets to the heart of what it means to be a family.” — Christina Baker Kline
Photo credit: iStock / by-studio