Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey–in present day London, Jess flees from an abusive boyfriend and seeks shelter in an abandoned house. A letter arrives the next morning in the mail, which plunges her into the story of Stella and Dan, who met in London during WWII. Further exploration in the house reveals a box of Stella and Dan’s love letters written in 1942, and Jess begins a journey to discover what happened to them. This is a gorgeous book with an ending that is both happy and sad. (Keep the tissues handy).
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart–based on a true story, in 1914 a powerful factory owner hits Constance Kopp’s buggy with his automobile. Constance demands payment for damages, which results in the factory owner’s gang unleashing a series of attacks on Constance and her two sisters in their isolated farm house. Constance defends her home and family aided by the town sheriff, and in the end, is deputized herself. The sisters have extremely eclectic personalities, and the story is told with humor and wit. Happily, it will be followed up with Lady Cop Makes Trouble in September of this year.
Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic by Jennifer L Scott–Scott does a wonderful job of writing about infusing beauty and enjoyment into the ordinary moments of life. I didn’t feel this was groundbreakingly different from her first two books, but a reminder to slow down and live well is always a good thing.
The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble–this YA fantasy was unlike anything I’ve ever read, in the best way possible. Clara and her sister Maureen live in the mountains with their guardian, Auntie. Clara, Maureen and their friend O’Neill are all orphans: a stork brought Clara to Auntie, Maureen arrived in a seashell, and O’Neil was discovered beneath an apple tree. One day scales appear beneath Maureen’s skin–she is turning into a mermaid and must be taken to the sea or she will die. The three friends journey to the sea shore, racing to arrive before Maureen’s transformation is complete. Part fairy tale and part coming of age story, The Mermaid’s Sister is a delightful and unique read.
A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor–a fictionalized account of real events taking place in London during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. In the late 1800’s, orphan sisters Flora and Rosie sell flowers in Covent Garden in conditions of utter poverty. They are tragically separated, and older sister Flora vows to never stop searching for Rosie. Mr. Shaw’s Training Homes for Watercress and Flower Girls provide a place for the flower sellers to get off the street and learn a skill, and Flora eventually finds her way there. In 1912, Tilly Harper comes to Mr. Shaw’s Training Homes as the new assistant housemother, and finds a notebook which belonged to Flora, telling the tale of her lost sister. Tilly takes it upon herself to search for Rosie, and discovers the truth is not what it seems.
(Although the books aren’t similar, a piece of the plot reminded me of Kate Morton’s The Lake House–both stories have characters that live with an untrue reality that deeply affects them.)
If you’ve read any of these, let me know what you thought–or tell me what good books you’ve been reading in the comments!