From the author of the acclaimed, The Dry Grass of August comes a richly researched yet lyrical Southern-set novel that explores the conflicts of gentrification—a moving story of loss, love, and resilience.
It’s 1961 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The neighborhood of Brooklyn is almost entirely made up of black families and businesses. While there are a lot of run down and shabby homes and storefronts, Loraylee Hawkins lives in a nice home with her grandmother, her uncle and her son, Hawk. She works a full-time job and cares for her grandmother and her son.
Loarylee works at a cafeteria and is involved with her boss. A white man. All very secret, after all this is the South in the early ’60s.
The city of Charlotte has declared Brooklyn a blight on the city and has decided to do some gentrification. Which we all know means bulldozing every house and business and putting in buildings no one can afford. This is their home. They were born here and many died here. But now even the graveyard is being removed in the name of progress.
This is a very familiar story for those of us raised in the deep south. The strength of the characters of this cast was extraordinary. This was a community that supported each other, a family that stood their ground and fought for a better life and for respect.
I am so glad I read this one and I highly recommend it!
Summer is in full swing here. Lots of sun, sand, and water. And of course, a good book!
Some of my favorite reads this summer have been:
Oh, what a twisty puzzle this thriller was!
Mean Girls meets the PTA
This is an outstanding novel about freedom, racism, and family.
Another one that tugged at my heartstrings and made me cry!
What is everyone looking forward to reading? At the moment I am reading Campusland by Scott Johnson.
Have a good one! We are under a severe heat warning. I’ll be in the pool!
First in the Gaslight Mystery Series
Cora Harrison is one of my favorite authors. Her Reverand Mother series is wonderful reading!
In this new Historical Fiction Series, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins have teamed up to try and solve the murder of a young servant girl named Isabella Gordon. Isabella is one of the young ladies that Dicken’s charities had tried to help. Unfortunately, Isabella wasn’t a rule follower and she along with her friend, Sisena, moved on to work in a lodging house owned by a friend of Dickens. An American who supposedly made his fortune in gold.
Feeling a strong sense of responsibility to find her killer, Dickens, Collins, and Sisena are looking for clues. Was she blackmailing someone? Is the killer in the house? Will Sisena get greedy and go for the money herself?
I enjoyed the true parts tucked in with the mystery. Since this is the first in a series, I will say that I did not enjoy this one as much as her other series. But we’ll see where she goes with it!
NetGalley/ Severn House July 01, 2019
A Countess of Harleigh Mystery #2
The Countess, Francis, is back in the second of this series. Now a widow with a full house in town, she has no desire to head for the country as most do in August. She isn’t hunting for birds or a husband.
Her younger sister is visiting from America and has brought a friend. Within a few short weeks, the sister announces she is going to marry a man she just met. Francis is worried. She doesn’t want her sister to marry someone she barely knows. Didn’t work out that well for Francis!
Along with her Aunt and her cousin Charles, she has her hands full. Charles is a lovely man but rather scattered. Francis has been encouraging him to see an acquaintance of hers, Mary Archer. Charles isn’t enamored of Mrs. Archer and picks a poor time to break off seeing her. The next day the poor woman is dead, murdered in her own home. Charles just became a suspect.
With help from her friend and neighbor, George Hazelton, she hopes to find something in the poor woman’s belongings that will clear Charles. What they find sends them in an entirely different direction!
I really enjoyed this one. Historical Fiction is a favorite of mine and Ms. Freeman has a style of writing that is so easy to read. The characters are quirky and fun. Francis and George may have something going on soon so I hope we don’t have to wait long for the next book!
NetGalley/ June 25th, 2019 by Kensington
From the 1920s to the 1960s, the Collier and Parrish families have been very close. Living a life of wealth and privilege as major players in the steel industry in Bethlehem, PA.
They do everything together. Their children do everything together. Life looks perfect and everything they touch is gold.
By the time Frank and Joanna Collier and their two small children come to live on the estate, his own father has died leaving his mother and grandmother alone. While Joanna isn’t at all on board with this plan and is quite miserable about it and who wouldn’t be? No one needs 3 strong women under one roof! Every new wife and mother wants to be the queen of their domain but Joanna is feeling like an unwelcome guest and with Frank up to his ears in the business, she finds herself wandering through the nearby graveyard and not only finds a mystery but a handsome stranger.
I will own up to being a bit overwhelmed with all of the characters in this tale. There were a lot. There were also a lot of secrets. Nothing was what I thought it was. At the beginning I found myself whining about another book with a weak and whiny main character. I am so glad I stuck with it because it was nothing like that! These women were all strong. They had to be. The secrets they carried weighed heavy on them for decades.
And in the end, I cried and cried. A tale of family, pain, secrets, forgiveness, and trust. Never has the saying, “We never know what is really going on behind closed doors” been truer.
A beautiful story!
NetGalley/ St. Martin’s Press July 09,2019
The acclaimed, award-winning author of A Watch of Nightingales imagines in a sweeping and stunning novel what happened to the poet Elizabeth Bishop during three life-changing weeks she spent in Paris amidst the imminent threat of World War II.
Before Elizabeth Bishop was a famous poet, and a faithful keeper of journals, she had an adventure. What? We don’t know. For all of the material in her journals, there is a blank space, noticeable by its absence. The year was 1937 and the author has filled in what could have been. Beginning in 1930 and continuing to 1979, the author has imagined what may have happened. And it’s a really good idea!
She and her Vassar roomies are headed to France! An adventure. Seemingly unaware of the trouble brewing all over Europe. War is on the way. No one is trusted. Everyone is being watched. When Elizabeth is introduced to a group helping to save Jewish orphans by taking them to convents in Paris, her life is forever changed.
There was a kind of vagueness about a lot of the characters. I kept asking questions in my head about the lack of information. To tell you the truth I still am not sure, but then neither was the author about those 3 weeks.
It left me with a lot of questions that no one had the answers to.
NetGalley/ June 11th, 2019 by Simon Schuster
Montauk, Long Island in the year 1938 is where anyone who is anyone will be summering. Away from the heat of the city. Fresh ocean breezes and a small fishing village and even a lighthouse.
Beatrice Bordeaux is a young woman from the countryside of Pennsylvania.
Swept off of her feet by the charming Harry, they have been married five years and yet still have no children.
The elite of society corral their nannies and children and head to the Manor for the summer. Beatrice thinks she may like being by the ocean all summer until her charming husband tells her he isn’t staying. He will be coming on the weekends, which gradually just stops after she catches him cheating.
While it looks as though the Junior League has just moved locations, with meetings and fund-raisers and a whole lot of backstabbing, cheating, drinking and behaving badly. Bea befriends Elizabeth, who lives in town and does laundry for the Manor. And through Elizabeth, she meets a man unlike any she has ever met and before long things are getting pretty serious.
Beatrice is noticing the behavior of the city dwellers with their noses in the air and is not happy with it. As her love for her lighthouse keeper grows so does her guilt. But I did not expect that ending!
I did get upset with Beatrice a few times. But then I thought, it is 1938, and divorce wasn’t looked on as well as just putting on a brave face and having affairs of one’s own. In the beginning, her timidness irritated me. Until she found a way to address the situation in Montauk and what was really going on there. In the end, she was a strong and independent woman.
Netgalley/June 4th, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
I’m giving a hard copy of the book away! Comment for a chance to win on Instagram or here! Drawing will be Friday! May the Fourth Be With You!