Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser -- a novel as if Martha Washington is telling about her life; the book begins at the death of her first husband; pretty good
Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain -- While this is not one of my favorite from this author, it did keep my attention. Namely I was wondering WHY this ER doctor's husband was so infatuated with "Saint Anne" of Kill Devil Hills. When Annie O'Neill is brought to the emergency room on Christmas evening with a gunshot wound, Dr. Olivia Simon is forced to treat the lady who had held her husband's attention for months. What is the story behind that?
The Underground River by Martha Conway -- often when I get books from the free little libraries, they are just OK; this one, however, was great! I really enjoyed the story of May, the straight-talking costume maker and expert seamstress, who joins a traveling river theater after the steamer she was on with her cousin sinks in the Ohio River. Comfort, her actress cousin, takes on the role of spokesperson for an abolitionist group, and May is left to fend for herself. I love the character of May in this story, and I really like many of the actors and other people on board the boat.
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore -- Upon hearing that her estranged father has died, Jillian returns to the place of her birth, Louisiana, more out of curiosity than anything else. Unlike she had been lead to believe, her grandmother did not invite her there, but the caretaker of her grandmother's churched-turned-into-apartment
s, Adella, did. Jillian finds a
whole other way of life and cast of characters there. This book was
somewhat good, not the best, but had a pretty good message over all. I
did appreciate that aspect.
Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke -- Claire shows up unannounced at her aunt's house in the north of England. With her she has five Jewish children escaping France. Claire is eager to get back to Paris, but instead is stuck helping Aunt Miranda with the children. Things are not going as she planned. Later German Jewish children arrive making for an even better story. Pretty good book, nothing spectacular.
That Summer by Lauren Willig -- I tried one of her books recently so I thought I'd read another. When Julia inherits a great aunt's house in England, she takes off to sort the house with hopes to sell it. Instead she gets caught up in the memories of her mother's family, and searches for reasons a rare pre-Raph painting was hidden in the back of a bureau. This book flips from modern-day Julia to the family back in Herne Hill in the 1840s, the story of Imogen and Arthur, Evie and Gavin Thorne.
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom -- This book was really good although not enjoyable. How can it be when dealing with the emotions and trials of enslaved people? When Lavinia's parents die on their way to America, she is kept as an indentured servant to the captain of the ship. She hangs out with and works with the slaves who form her new family. Later, though, she's sent to Williamsburg where her status in life changes. I really liked this book.
Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict -- When Clara Kelley arrived in New York City from Ireland, she had hopes of meeting up with a second cousin and sending money back to her family. Not long after getting off the ship, she heard her named called. She realized it was a summons for another Clara Kelley - one who died en route to the US - and takes the opportunity to fill the deceased Clara's shoes. As a maid to the Carnegie family. And not a scullery maid, but the lady's maid to Andrew Carnegie's mother; pretty good book
The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb -- not my normal type of book, but not bad for a ghost story! When Hallie James is contacted by an attorney with news of her mother - whom Hallie was told died in a house fire when Hallie was just five years old - her life changes when she travels to a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes. Pretty good story
Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom -- so, several years after she wrote The Kitchen House, the author wrote this book with some of the characters from the first book. This book starts out with Jamie Pyke in Pennsylvania where he is living as white. He has taken a young colored boy into his house, and when Pan is kidnapped from the Philadelphia docks, he takes a trip to Edenton, North Carolina, with plans to rescue Pan. Another good story by this author!
The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs -- a novel about the life of Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler. Eliza seemed like an amazing woman, and I hate she had to deal with the betrayal of her husband, and the death of her son the way she did. Pretty good book if you want to know more about this couple in a historical fiction kind of way.
Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood -- a rather cute book about Lilia Brooke who is too unconventional for her backward English village. Lilia left the church when the pastor dared to preach about the subservient role of women, and she shuns marriage as archaic. Free unions are for her! But then her renewed acquaintance with her childhood friend Paul poses a problem. For his chosen profession is as a Anglo-Catholic clergyman. How will these two relate now that they are together in London?
Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano -- when Silias Rotherham travels to the debtor's prison to collect the affects of the recently-deceased younger brother of Lady Eudora, he expected a battered trunk or two; not a couple of trunks plus a young lady, the daughter of the deceased who had grown up at the debtor's prison. Aurelie Harcourt inherits her father's stories and continues to write the serial published weekly under the name of Nathaniel Droll. A rather cute book; I liked it, and look forward to others by this author.
The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig -- When her mother dies, Rachel Woodley discovers a picture of her father - the botantist who died 23 years prior, when Rachel was 4. Only this picture shows her father with another daughter - and claims he is an earl. What gives? Rachel is befriended by Simon who has a plan to introduce Rachel to her father and half siblings. It includes Rachel cutting off her governess-style hair and changing her clothes in order to become Vera Merton. Pretty good story!
Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier -- When Jem and Maisie move with their parents from Piddletrenthide to London in order for their father and Jem to make chairs for the circus owner, they meet Maggie and other interesting characters including their neighbors William and Catherine Blake. Jem and Maisie learn their way around the streets with Maggie, and the three learn from each other and it's just a rather cute book.
Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain -- A story about a teenager with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and his older sister and widowed mother. When Andy attends a church lock-in and the church catches fire, at first he's lauded as a hero for knowing a way to escape. But later people wonder why he knew how to get out: had he started the fire?
The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper -- A good way to learn more about the Tudor family in England. I liked this story of Katherine "Kat" Champernowne Ashley and how she was the governess for Anne Boleyn's daughter Elizabeth. An interesting peek behind the scenes at the royal family as told from Kat's point of view.
The Observations by Jane Harris -- After her employer dies, this Irish teen doesn't want to return to life with her mom so she escapes and finds employment with the Reid household where Mrs. Reid has a peculiar way of observing her maids. Bessy soon grows to like Mrs. Reid, but when she snoops and finds Mrs. Reid's manuscript, she isn't quite sure what to think. A rather strange book, but cute in a way. Bessy's style of writing took a few pages to get into, but she's really a cute character. The Reid family is just odd.
The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor -- When Dolly Lane gets a job as a maid at The Savoy Hotel in London, she has dreams of catching the eye of somebody big so she can get her chance to be a star. She meets Perry Clement and later finds out that his sister is the actress Loretta May. Interesting tale from the Roaring 20s!
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig -- I gotta admit that if THIS were the first book I'd read by this author, I'd probably not read any more from her. It's not that there were no redeeming qualities or funny parts, but mostly this book was not that good to me. I see there are many follow-up books in this series, but I will probably skip those for the stand-alone novels. That said, this book was about Amy's return to her native France during the rule of Napoleon. (She'd been in England for years with her English mother.) She has a deep desire to find out the identity of the masked hero, the Purple Gentian (think Scarlet Pimpernel) and help spy for the sake of the royals.An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser -- A story of an Italian family - the widowed mom and her two daughters, Lucia, 24, and Sofia, 15, and their work as seamstresses. Through their work Lucy becomes friends with the super-rich Rowena, and the two have some adventures in Newport when Lucy is asked to come mend some tears in Rowena's wardrobe. An easy read.