Mary Ann’s April Recommendation

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

the paying guests

Mary Ann says:  “Frances Wray lost two brothers in World War I.  She and her mother have to rent rooms in their London home to make ends meet.  A young couple from a ‘lower class’ move in.  Fine character development and vivid atmosphere.  Some of the reviews reveal too much about the eyebrow-raising plot points, so don’t read them before the book.”

3 Similar Reads

Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue – “Donoghue shows her mastery of eighteenth-century England and epic storytelling in this first novel about a young woman named Mary Saunders, who was born poor and destined to remain so. Taking as her premise the true crimes of the real-life Mary Saunders, Donoghue paints a colorful and complex life led amid the dirt and filth of lower-class London streets.” – Booklist

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell – “On an Illinois farm in the 1920s, a man is murdered, and in the same moment the tenuous friendship between two lonely boys comes to an end. In telling their interconnected stories, American Book Award winner William delivers a masterfully restrained and magically evocative meditation on the past.” – Summary from publisher

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932:  A Novel by Francine Prose – “A richly imagined and stunningly inventive story of love, art, and betrayal in Paris of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.” – Summary from publisher


Lisa’s January Recommendations

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

the secret life of violet grant“This follow-up to One Hundred Summers is the story of two women whose dreams are challenged by society and familial expectations. Violet Schuyler is an intelligent young woman who is naïve to the ways of the world when she meets Dr. Walter Grant, the noted physical chemist, who champions Violet’s scientific career, and her gratitude leads her to fall in love with him. But she soon finds herself trapped in an unhappy marriage. Then Violet’s husband’s former protégé, Lionel Richardson, arrives, leading her to a crisis point. In 1960s New York, Vivian Schuyler wants to write magazine articles instead of spending her days fetching coffee for her editor. When she receives a suitcase that once belonged to her scandalous Aunt Violet, rumored to have murdered her husband in 1914 and run off with her lover, Vivian is determined to uncover the truth. VERDICT Williams’s latest is another absorbing page-turner filled with romance and secrets but with some flaws. While Violet’s narrative will captivate readers with its intrigue and the protagonist’s struggles, Vivian’s story is less compelling and the plot strains believability toward the end. Fans of the earlier work will be delighted by the cameo appearance of Lily and other characters from that novel.” – Library Journal

Does this sound interesting?  Click here for a sample!

2 Similar Reads

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig

The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

the beautiful american“As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.” – Goodreads (note:  this book is not available at the River Forest Public Library.  It may be held via SWAN)

2 Similar Reads

Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Mary Ann’s December Recommendation

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Mary Ann says: “Frances Wray lost two brothers in World War 1.  She and her mother have to rent rooms in their London home to make ends meet.  A young couple from a “lower class” move in.  Fine character development and vivid atmosphere. Read the reviews after you read the book so you’re surprised at the eye-brow raising and shocking plot points.”

From the publisher: It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

3 Similar Titles 

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Lovers at The Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose

Life Mask by Emma Donoghue


Dana’s August Recommendation

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

aviators wifeDana says: This follows the life of Charles Lindbergh’s wife Anne from the time she meets her husband until his death in 1974. I read this while on vacation and it is a quick and easy read, especially for historical fiction lovers.

Melanie Benjamin also wrote Alice I Have Been (2010) and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb (2011)

3 Similar Books

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan – Chronicles the love affair that begins in 1875 between author Robert Louis Stevenson and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel – A nonfiction story about the fifty year friendship of the wives of the Mercury Seven astronauts.

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson – A nonfiction book about the optimistic American summer of 1927, which features Charles Lindbergh’s May 1927 flight.



Kim’s May Recommendation

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

museumKim says: This is a rich story of early 20th century New York City that introduces “natural wonders”, photography, Coney Island, the terrible conditions of the garment district, Jewish culture, and the wilds of Manhattan.  While a piece of fiction, Hoffman incorporates so many details and frames her story around real-life historical events, particularly the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory File, that I found myself reading further and looking at maps.  There’s a love story at the heart of the book and characters that you come to know deeply. 

3 Similar Titles

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wacker

I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Weekly Spotlight On: Transport Yourself Into the New Year with Time-Travel Fiction

Transported into the New Year

This week I’d like to take a look at books that feature time-travel, since it’s a classic and stretches across many genres – literary, historical, fantasy, and science fiction. Many times time travel appeals to fantasy readers because of the magic of it, and science fiction readers if the time travelers go to the future. However, when time travel occurs between the different time periods of present and past, the book can become richly seeped with details about history and appeal to those who like historical novels.
Sometimes time travel even appeals to romance readers. You’ve probably by now seen or heard of Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (which I enjoyed for the Chicago setting and librarian character) that was adapted into a film as well. Recently another time traveling movie with the same lead actress Rachel McAdams was released called About Time.
In any case, there’s a time-traveling themed book out there for you. Review some of these titles and see if anything is similar to your taste in fiction.
The summary of each novel is taken from the catalog, and each book title is hyper-linked so that you can easily click and request a copy.
Happy traveling!
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

theriverofnoreturnWaking up in a modern London hospital 200 years after meeting his death on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott is indoctrinated into a time-traveling society and returned to the side of a woman he loves to reclaim a vital talisman, a mission that places the fate of the future in his hands.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlanderThe year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an “outlander” — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord … 1743.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
lifeafterlifeOkay I’m cheating on this one a little. It’s not time travel, but the main character is reborn again and again. – Genna
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
theshininggirlsA time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace– until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back. Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery
11/22/63 by Stephen King
112263On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? The author’s new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination. In this novel that is a tribute to a simpler era, he sweeps readers back in time to another moment, a real life moment, when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history. Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students, a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane, and insanely possible, mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life, a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
foundWhen thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time.
theimpossiblelivesofgretawellsFrom the critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Confessions of Max Tivoli comes The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, a rapturously romantic story of a woman who finds herself transported to the “other lives” she might have lived.After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well—though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband…but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress.In this spellbinding novel by Andrew Sean Greer, each reality has its own losses, its own rewards; each extracts a different price. Which life will she choose as she wrestles with the unpredictability of love and the consequences of even her most carefully considered choices?

Overseas by Beatriz Williams

overseasA cynical Wall Street analyst falls in love with a billionaire with a mysterious past in a romance with mystical ties to a relationship between a World War I British officer and a beautiful young American who held vital information about a fateful reconnaissance mission.

Blaise’s December Recommendation

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

thelittlestrangers“Set in a big, crumbling Downton Abbey like estate that has fallen on hard times after world war II, this creepy tale will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens to the house and it’s inhabitants.” – Blaise

  • 2009 Nominated Man Booker Prize for Fiction
  • 2009 Won Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
  • 2009 Won New York Times Notable Books of the Year

“One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners mother, son, and daughter are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.” – Summary

3 Similar Titles

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

The Girl Next Door by Patricia MacDonald