THE WEDDING DRESS SEWING CIRCLE by JENNIFER RYAN

Three plucky women lift the spirits of home-front brides in wartime Britain, where clothes rationing leaves little opportunity for pomp or celebration–even at weddings–in this heartwarming novel based on true events, from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.

Cressida Westcott fled her family manor many years ago. She is now a very successful designer in London and runs her design house. Until the Blitz. Bombs drop on the poor and wealthy the same way. Like so many people, she now has no place to go. Swallowing her pride she calls her niece and nephew who still live at the manor and is told she is more than welcome.

Returning with only what she had on when the bombs fell. Her niece, Violet, is thrilled her aunt has come to stay. Violet is young and about as shallow as a saucer on the surface. Her father taught her from birth that it is her job to marry well and have children.

Cressida isn’t the only thing going to the manor. So is Violet’s conscription letter. She is furious. How in the world can she find a titled husband wearing a uniform and scrubbing toilets?

Meanwhile, in the village, the vicar’s daughter, Grace, is hoping her sewing circle can help mend her mother’s wedding gown so that she can wear it at her own wedding to a much older and staid man of the cloth.

While trying to be useful Cressida and Violet both volunteer at the sewing circle and much to everyone’s surprise it’s a great fit. Cressida has connections and Grace is a worthy protege for her. As she helps them, they also help her. What woman doesn’t want a special white dress for her wedding? The ladies soon hatch a plan to get as many gowns as they can and re-make them so the war brides all feel special on their day.

Having Cressida down in the village encourages her nephew, Hugh, to come as well. And he finds he may still have feelings for the little girl who was his best friend for so long.

Oh, the power of women having to make do. That is when things get interesting. And this book was full of women getting the job done. And figuring out who they are in this new world.

Such a beautiful concept and telling of a story that made me laugh and cry!

NetGalley/: May 31st, 2022 by Ballantine Books

The SEAMSTRESS of NEW ORLEANS by DIANE C.McPHAIL

Can we take a look at this gorgeous cover? Stunning!

It’s 1900 and a new century has dawned and women are making some noise. Fighting for equality in a man’s world.

Alice Butterworth knows all of those rules. She also knows she needs to find a job as it looks like her husband is not going to be returning from his business trip. Desperate and broke, she overhears women talking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. How a seamstress can flourish there. And Alice is a good seamstress. So to New Orleans, she goes. Carrying a parting gift from the no-good husband. A baby.

She finally arrives at an orphanage where she can stay and teach sewing to the older girls.

Constance is a young mother and wife. Her husband is shady at best. He isn’t coming home either. She knows this for certain. She works very closely with the orphanage and meeting Alice she offers her lodging with her little family while she helps her create a gown for the Leap Year Ball for Mardi Gras. It’s an all-women Krewe which at that time was forward. But she needs something to take her mind off of the fear she feels. Who is the mysterious man following her? And why?

This is a story of women helping women. Of being brave and standing together. While there was quite a bit of Mardi Gras trivia, this was ultimately about empowering women.

NetGalley/May 31st, 2022 by Kensington Publishing Corp. A John Scognamiglio Book


BLOOMSBURY GIRLS by NATALIE JENNER

Bloomsbury Girls

The internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world.

The war is over in London and the delightful Evie Stone is back. Having completed her studies at Cambridge she is hoping to get a position at the school. However, in typical fashion, the position goes to a man.

Using one of her contacts from The Jane Austen Society as a reference, she applies for a job at Bloomsbury Books. Selling new and rare books and resisting change in any form for a hundred years. Run by men and the fifty-one rules. Yes, 51.

But it’s 1950 and things are about to be shaken up like a snow globe with Evie’s arrival.

The women who work here, Vivien and Grace are tired of all of the men treating them as less than. Vivien’s fiance died in action in the war and Vivien is angry about a lot of things. Being passed over for a job she is very qualified for as well as her mortal enemy Alec, Head of Fiction. Vivien wants to write. She is constantly writing. Alec wants to write but never can.

Grace, the married one in the group is a glorified secretary who is just trying to support her family after her husband came back from the war a different man. A mean man who she wishes she could leave.

And then there is Evie. One of the first class of female students allowed to graduate and earn a degree at Cambridge. But Evie isn’t there to just work out a system for the messy rare book section, she has a purpose and is looking for something. Something she found at the great house in Chawton.

A chance meeting with Daphne Du Maurier has lit a fire under these women. Why can’t they follow their dreams? When other women join their cause, such as Peggy Guggenheim, Sonia Blair, Ellen Doubleday, and others, things are getting done. Have the women outplayed the men here? Oh, yes. And it is delicious.

I am so happy to see Evie! I so wanted to hear how she was getting on. And in this tale, she may even find love!

Very Well Done once again!

NetGalley/May 17th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press







THE MAGNIFICENT LIVES OF MARJORIE POST by ALLISON PATAKI

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

An epic reimagining of the remarkable life of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American heiress and trailblazing leader of the twentieth century, from the New York Times bestselling author of Sisi

Marjorie Merriweather Post was not born in the type of wealth that would later allow her to own Mar-a-Lago and entertain heads of state from around the world. She grew up modestly in Battle Creek, Michigan after her family came there for the curative methods of Dr. Kellogg. Yes, that Kellogg. And yes, that Post, as in Grape Nuts. What her father learned while there led him to mass-produce cereal and food that was quick and easy to fix allowing the housewives to not live in the kitchen.

Her father encouraged her ambitions. He wanted her educated and able to form her own opinions. Marjorie took all of those lessons to heart. She lived and loved with all of her being.

Her first job was gluing cereal boxes in the barn. While she would go on to become the Cereal Heiress, she always gave more than she received.

She wasn’t very interested in the rules of society when it came to what she should or should not do and she threw herself into whatever she was passionate about. She was the wealthiest woman in the USA before she turned thirty. She was passionate about so many causes and love. She was loved, betrayed and had some ugly things to deal with as well. She married four times and gave her all. She was an amazing woman who left an amazing legacy behind.

I loved getting to know Marjorie. What a woman! And Pataki fills this book with such passion it isn’t difficult to find yourself staying up past your bedtime!

NetGalley/ February 15th, 2022 by Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

Sister Stardust by JANE GREEN

Sister Stardust

Jane Green reimagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty in this transporting story from a forgotten chapter of the Swinging ’60s 

A reimagining of Talita and Paul Getty living the rich and exciting life that small- town Claire can only dream about. But she has dreams and heads for London.

After some fortuitous meetings, she finds herself invited to stay at their home in Morocco. A place teeming with hedonistic pleasures and famous people.She quickly adapts to this world of art, music , drugs and partner -swapping. And socialite, Talitha Getty takes her under her wing and shows her a different side to the glamour. While Claire, at first so charmed by these odd people, finds herself not sure at all she would want this permanantly.

The book is told by Clair, after she and her daughter find boxes and boxes of beautiful things from Morocco, along with a note from Talitha asking her to return. And so begins a mother telling her daughter the fabulous adventures she had as well as the heartbreak.

What a fascinating look at this period in time. When musicians were gods and groupies were everywhere. Claire just wanted a glimpse of the Stones but she got way more than she bargained for. While she loved Morocco, she could never justify the things that happened there that change and ruined so many lives.

I absolutely loved this book. I learned so much about that time period and the famous and infamous people of that time. This was a well told and much loved book.

I enjoyed it immensely.

NetGalley/April 5th, 2022 by Hanover Square Press


  

BLACKOUT by SIMON SCARROW

Blackout

Berlin, December 1939

So much tension in this one! The Nazis are quickly taking over and everyone is a little paranoid and terrified. There are shortages, blackouts, and murders.

The wife of one of the Nazi lawyers is found murdered. Brutally so. CI Horst Schenke is following the law and doing his investigation. He is already suspicious in the eyes of his superiors for not registering for the Nazi party.

When another body comes up he thinks they may be looking at something truly evil. But who is to be trusted? No one.

This was a tense read. Not only are the Nazis making life impossible for everyone in the country, but they fight among themselves just as cruelly. It was amazing to see someone stand up to them and get some sort of justice.

NetGalley/ March 29, 2022, Kensington Publishers

UNDER THE GOLDEN SUN by JENNY ASHCROFT

Under the Golden Sun

Rose Hamilton is boarding the train to meet her Uncle and her brother for tea. Rose is at odds with her life at the moment. World War II has everyone on edge. She is still healing from being dismissed from military service and is engaged/not engaged to a truly narcissistic man. When she happens to see in the paper an advertisement for a companion to a young child. The job would be accompanying the child to Australia where his family will meet him and give him a good home.

On a whim, she stops in to apply for the job. She meets Vivian who is in very poor health and needs to be sure someone she can trust will care for a five-year-old Walter. A shy little boy whose mother has died and whose father is unknown. Walter tugs at her heartstrings hard. And she immediately knows she will take the job.

Walter and Rose board a ship during a scary time. With ships being bombed and enemy ships around, not to mention the seasickness.

Being on the ship in such close quarters Rose has become quite fond of Walter and him of her. When they finally land no one is there to meet them. When a hand shows up he deposits them in the pouring rain at a house with no one home. Or is there? What is wrong with these people? And why is his Uncle Max so distant and not in the least expecting them?

Secrets and family. Can one child and one rather headstrong woman change them all? Or will more misunderstandings cause her a broken heart?

Jenny Ashcroft writes so well you feel fully immersed in whatever world she has created. The colors of the Australian sky, the smells of the ocean liner, the heat so hot you can feel it.

A beautiful historical fiction novel that will move you to tears!

NetGalley/March 15th, 2022 St. Martin’s Press



The Orchard by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry

The Orchard

Four teens in the 1980’s are all living in the last days of the USSR. However, none have the exact same experiences.

Told by Anya, whose parents have a dacha and an apple orchard and food to eat. Best friend Milka has nothing but an abusive step-father and whatever she can find to eat. Together with their friends, Trifonov and Lopatin, they make the best of the situations they are in. They may fight and bicker but they have each other’s back.

There is a heavy influence going on with Chekhov and his The Cherry Orchard. Anya’s parents talk of the collapse of the government and how bad things are going to be and have been since WWII. There seems to be a great divide in this country. Those who have it all and those who don’t. Even after the fall, there is so much more food and luxuries, however, only a few can afford them.

When an unspeakable event turns their lives upside down their friendships fade. Anya will move to the US and marry a good man and not return for 20 years. And when she does, not much has changed, just the players.

This was a very good story. Fiction, but not. Russia is such a secretive place and we know very little firsthand about life there. And they have their perceptions of other countries as well. This beautiful book made me laugh, it made me cry and I would read it all over again. These women were strong and made something out of nothing. I was very impressed.

NetGalley/March 15th, 2022 by Ballantine Books





CIRCUS OF WONDERS by Elizabeth Macneal

Circus of Wonders

Macneal takes us back to Victorian England. It is 1866 and everyone is a bit manic over the circus life. The freaks, the oddities, the animal tamers, and of course those human wonders.

Jasper Jupiter has a plan for his Circus of Wonders. To be the biggest circus anywhere. He believes it is his destiny and he will do anything to keep it. As they set up their tents in small poor towns, people come to gawk and take advantage.

In one of those towns lives Nell. Nell has vitiligo, a disease no one knew back then. It causes the loss of skin color in patches. She is made fun of, shunned, and then the worst of betrayals. Her father sells her to Jupiter. Calling her the “leopard girl”. Nell is crushed. Surely her brother will come for her. But as time goes by and she bonds with the performers, she isn’t so sad anymore.

Nell is transformed into a human wonder. She is the Queen of the Moon and Stars. Flying high over the crowds and becoming famous. A little too famous for Jasper.

Jasper and his brother Toby have a co-dependent relationship that has something to do with what happened during the war. Jasper holds it over Toby’s head until the truth comes out and everyone runs.

I am not embarrassed to say I cried so hard in this book. Nell is a courageous and determined character. She goes from wanting to fade into the background to knowing her worth and following her own star.

Macneal is a genius at pulling on our heartstrings as well as giving us looks at Victorian England in all of its ugliness at the time.

Well Done!

NetGalley/ February 1st, 2022 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

OUR KIND of PEOPLE by Carol Wallace

Our Kind of People

Welcome to the Gilded Age in New York City. The war is over and the elite of the city are getting back to balls and debuts and other pursuits. In Helen Wilcox’s case, it means finding suitable matches for her two daughters on a shoestring budget.

While Helen comes from money, She has married for love. And boy were those people snobby and just plain mean.

But it is 1874 and the times were different. Classes were important and old money trumped the new money. So how will Helen find suitable men for her two daughters? Her husband has dreams of an elevated rail in NYC. It’s a genius idea but it will take a lot of money! When it lead to financial ruin, Helen is questioning her husband’s dream but not his love for her or hers for him.

And as their fortunes change, they along with daughters Jemima and Alice must take a hard look at the world as it is, not as it was and think long and hard about what they want.

To Marry an English Lord was written by Wallace. The inspiration for Downton Abbey so if you are missing it or Bridgerton, this should hold you until Mr. Fellowes brings us more! And thank goodness he will bring The Gilded Age to life!

NetGalley/January 11th, 2022 by G P Putman’s Sons