Have you ever read an epistolary novel? Epistolary novels are stories told entirely through a series of letters. The form originated in 1740 when Samuel Richardson revolutionized story telling with Pamela.
Considered to be one of the first novel-type works, Pamela led a long trend of epistolary novels. But today the form is rare. You might recall that The Color Purple was an epistolary novel. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel in its truest form. Told through letters between, not just two or three, but at least a dozen correspondents, it is truly a fascinating work.
If you love British novels, especially feel-good ones, then The Jane Austen Society is just your type of book. Set in post WWII England, the book takes place in the small village of Chawton.
You might recognize Chawton as it was one of the places Jane Austen lived during her lifetime. The book fictionalizes the attempt to secure Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton along with some of her things for historical purposes.
The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett’s sophomore novel, is a moving saga of a family from rural Louisiana. An exploration of identity, what defines us, and how we allow outside forces to limit us, it is a truly exceptional work.
The novel follows twin black sisters, Stella and Desiree, as they attempt to shed their small town roots and make their own ways in the world. When Stella makes the irrevocable decision to pass as white, it creates a divide between the sisters and in the family that echoes for generations.
After his wildly popular debut, The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides has finally released his sophomore novel, The Maidens. Another thriller, The Maidens, takes place in England, primarily on the Cambridge campus.
The novel follows a Mariana Andros, a grieving widow and a group therapist, who becomes obsessed with a series of murders that occur at Cambridge. Her main suspect is Greek tragedy professor, Edward Fosca. So readers who love the recent themes from Greek mythology taking the book world by storm (think Circe and A Thousand Ships, among others), will love this thriller rife with Greek mythology references.
In the world of Texas Romance, Jodi Thomas is the queen. With over 50 Texas romances under her belt, she’s written historical and contemporary stories that continue to delight readers.
Dinner on Primrose Hill is the third book in her Honey Creek Series. The books are all set in a small county in Texas. Each feature three romantic story lines between six characters. And all have a little mystery to solve as well.
The Lost Apothecary is Sarah Penner’s debut novel. A dual-timeline story split between present day and late 1700s London, it is one of my favorite novels of the year. The split timeline along with plenty of tension made for a fun and fast read. Despite feeling like it was a quick read, the characters were well-developed and complex. And the plot was well-crafted and satisfying.
Far from the Tree is a brilliant novel that addresses many heavy topics with grace and care including teen pregnancy, alcoholism, adoption, foster care, divorce, discrimination, and more. And it does it while still maintaining the complex mix of innocence and wisdom through which teenagers process the world.
If you are a fan of WWII fiction, then you know that in the last few years there has been a boom of great historical novels from the time period that feature unique aspects of the war. The Paris Library is another novel about WWII France from a unique perspective. It follows Odile Souchet, who secures a position at the circulation desk of the American Library in Paris just as the war breaks out. Through her, we see how the war affected citizens of Paris and those who stayed through the Nazi occupation of France.
In present day England, Maud is slowly losing her memory and her independence, but she won’t let it stop her from finding out exactly where her best friend, Elizabeth, has gone. Certain that Elizabeth is in grave danger, she resolves to find her despite the fact that no one–not her daughter or son, not the police, nor Elizabeth’s son–will listen to her.
Has someone you loved battled dementia? If so, you are not alone.Elizabeth is Missing is a novel about a woman, Maud, who suffers from dementia and believes her best friend, Elizabeth, is missing. The novel is structured like a mystery/suspense and Maud’s current thoughts are often garbled with past memories of the brief period when her sister, Sukey, goes missing after WWII.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger has been floating around as a potential read for me for some time. Like many of you, my TBR list is quiet long.
It’s a story about a community that fractures when tragedy strikes, but ultimately finds redemption. It’s a coming-of-age story for Frank Drum and his younger brother, Jake, as they witness the adults in their lives respond to tragedy and try to process their own feelings.
Are you a fan of WWII fiction? Many readers love to read about this devastating, yet fascinating time in history. There are so many stories of normal people doing extraordinary things in the face of unthinkable evil.
If you loved The Nightingale and The Alice Network, you’ll love The Book of Lost Names. The novel, set in WWII-era France, is slightly different than the other two novels in that it deals with forgers rather than spies.
Do you love romantic stories, but pure romance isn’t your thing? Maybe you need a little bit of a darker backstory or a stronger internal struggle that has nothing to do with the leading man. I get it. The good news is that there are lots of romantic books out there that fit this bill while still centering primarily on the romance element. Beach Read by Emily Henry is one of those books.
Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library takes a quirky main character, Nora Seed, dealing with some hard issues and places her in a unique situation. The Midnight Library sprinkles in a heavy dose of magical realism in the form of a library at the edge of the universe that contains an infinite amount of books, each with a different reality. This library specifically has an infinite number of realities of Nora Seed’s life.
Imagine being able to try on all the possibilities of your life if you’d just made a slightly different decision along the road and you have The Midnight Library.