Monday, January 25, 2021

The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

In present day England, Emma has been hired to revive the gardens at Highbury House that Venetia Smith designed in 1907 for the Melcourt family. Venetia Smith was quite famous for her garden designs, so Emma is thrilled to be working on the project and hopes that the current lady of the house, Sydney, can unearth some documents that will aid her in restoring the gardens to their former glory. A second storyline tells the story of Venetia and her time working at Highbury and falling in love while there. In addition, the novel recounts life at Highbury House in 1944, when the estate was used as a hospital for soldiers during the war. Specifically, it tells the stories of Beth (a Land Girl), Stella (the cook at Highbury) and Diana (Sydney's great grandmother). The Last Garden in England is an engaging story of several women's lives over a century. An added plus was all the descriptions of the flowers and creating the gardens.

Friday, January 22, 2021

What Could Be Saved by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

Laura is a painter living in present-day Washington D.C. when she gets a call that her brother, Philip, missing since 1972, has been found. Philip disappeared when the family was living in Thailand for their father's job in American intelligence. Laura was the youngest child, Philip the middle, and Bea was the eldest at ten years old. After seeing him on a video call, Laura feels that it probably is Philip, Bea, however, is very skeptical. Laura then decides to travel to Bangkok and bring Philip home. A parallel storyline set in 1972 recounts the family's four years in Thailand--the children's everyday lives, mother Genevieve's affair with their father's boss, and the tale of Noi, one of the servants who accompanies the family back to the states. What Could Be Saved is an exploration of family bonds, grief, and forgiveness. For readers who enjoyed Ask Again, Yes, Wilde Lake, and Golden State.

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Jane envies the riches of the residents of Thornfield Estates, where she is a dog walker for several families. When she meets widower Eddie Rochester, she and Eddie are instantly attracted to one another. Soon, she is moving into Eddie's home and developing friendships with the women in the neighborhood. Jane is glad to leave behind a life of growing up in foster homes and keeping secrets; in fact, Jane isn't even her real name. Eddie harbors secrets of his own--less than a year ago, his wife Bea and her best friend Blanche were presumed dead after a boat accident. Eddie had Bea declared dead, but she is still alive, being kept prisoner in the attic. The Wife Upstairs is a twisty, suspenseful tale similar to The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Wife Between Us.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson

It's 1942 and Nina Mazin lives with her physician father, Gabriele, in Venice. Each day, she visits her mother, Devora, who lives in a home and is slowly slipping into dementia. Even though things are difficult for Jews, the Mazin family doesn't leave Italy, because Gabriele feels Devora wouldn't be able to survive the journey. In September 1943, Nina is persuaded to leave Venice and live in the Italian countryside as the "wife" of Nico, who was training to become a priest, but left when his older brother died in the war. Nico is now a farmer and lives with his large family outside the small village of Mezzo Ciel. Nina fits in well with the family and learns to adapt the hard work on the farm, but soon, an old schoolmate of Nico's, now a local Nazi official, comes calling. It's obvious he holds a grudge against Nico. Will Nina, Nico, and the rest of the family be able to stay safe until the war's end? In Our Darkest Night, author Robson highlights atrocities against Italian Jews, along with those who tried to help them.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The War Widow by Tara Moss

It's 1946 and Billie Walker is back home in Sydney running her own private investigation agency. During the war, Billie was a journalist who met her photographer husband, Jack, in Paris. Jack then went missing two years ago, presumed dead. Billie came back to Australia when her father, also a private eye, fell ill. After her father's death, Billie took over his office and has an assistant--war veteran Sam. Most of Billie's cases involve marital disputes, but client Mrs. Brown hires her to find her son, Adin, who is missing. Billie's investigation leads her through both the upper and lower classes of society along with providing a great sense of place of post-war Sydney for the reader in addition to the fashions of the time. A great new addition to the historical mystery genre. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Tenant by Katrine Engberg

Detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are called to a residence in downtown Copenhagen where a young woman has been murdered. The victim is identified as Julie Stender who moved to the city several months ago from a small town. The authorities hone in on a suspect named Kristoffer who knew Julie and wanted to have a relationship with her. But when Julie's landlord aspiring mystery novelist, Esther de Laurenti, realizes that the book she's been writing is eerily similar to Julie's murder, the case becomes even more complex. Will Korner and Werner be able to uncover the killer?

Monday, December 21, 2020

A Year on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball

Cici, Lindsay, and Bridget have been friends for many years. After Bridget's husband passes away, they decide to leave their lives in Baltimore, and buy together an old fixer-upper in rural Virginia. They arrive in the spring, full of optimism about being able to do each of their passions--Bridget-cooking, Lindsay-art, and Cici-being handy around the house. Despite the tranquil life, the women's resolve is tested as the home needs more and more repairs--and their bank accounts dwindle. Their agreement was to live there for a year, then re-assess the situation. As the year draws to a close, will they go back to their previous lives or stay put?