In 1938, Marianne von Lingenfels makes a promise to watch over the families of German resistors. As the war comes to an end, she finds herself taking in Benita and her son, Martin, and Ania and her two sons, Anselm and Wolfgang, at the family’s run-down castle. The three women struggle to survive on their own as they come to terms with the enormous toll the war has taken on them. Taking place over almost sixty years, the novel explores the lives of everyday Germans during the war, a view that hasn’t really been explored at length in popular fiction.
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck is an absorbing read that would be great for discussion. For people who enjoyed Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and other female-centered World War II fiction.
For thirty-five years, Dan Chase has lived quietly in Vermont, raising a daughter and happily married until his wife died ten years ago. Chase has kept himself mentally and physically sharp waiting for the day when someone discovers who he really is and comes to kill him. That day is now. All those years ago, Chase delivered $20 million for the CIA to a man named Faris Hamzah, who was supposed to give the money to Libyan insurgents. Instead, Hamzah kept the money for himself. Chase stole it back, and when he tried to get in touch with his superiors, they cut him off completely. Chase had no choice but to disappear. Now on the run, trying to outwit and overpower those who are coming after him, it’s a cat and mouse game to see who comes out on top. Thomas Perry’s The Old Man is an extremely satisfying fast-paced thriller perfect for a cold winter’s day.
As a private investigator, Harry Bosch has been secretly hired by wealthy Whitney Vance to find out before he dies if he has an heir. While in college in 1950, Vance was told by his girlfriend that she was pregnant, but after telling his father about the situation, the girlfriend disappeared and Vance never saw her again. Vance would like his vast fortune to go to his descendants rather than have it in the hands of his company’s board of directors. Bosch is also part of the San Fernando Police Department reserve unit and is partnered with Bella Lourdes to try and discover a serial rapist in the area that they have nicknamed “Screen Cutter.” With these two cases, the reader accompanies Bosch as he uses his investigative techniques to find the answers he needs. The Wrong Side of Goodbye is a very satisfying entry in Michael Connelly’s long-running series.
When 44-year-old New Yorker Maribeth Klein has a heart attack, she realizes she needs to slow down—but with working full-time and being the mother to preschool-aged twins, she is finding it hard to do. Her husband, Jason, and mother, Evelyn, seem unable to take over most of the tasks of running a household so Maribeth can rest and get better. Fed up, Maribeth, leaves her family and moves to Pittsburgh to recover. Pittsburgh is also the city she was born in, and Maribeth, an adoptee, would like to find her birth mother. Will living there anonymously help her find her way home?
Leave Me is very enjoyable novel full of heart and memorable characters. Gayle Forman’s book is a perfect read-alike for readers of Katherine Center and Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah. O Magazine compared the book to Anne Tyler…a good match.
When librarian Nina is made redundant, she decides to follow her dream of owning a bookstore. With a gift for connecting people to the right book, she buys a van, which she christens “Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After.” However, making her business work is not an easy task. With limited resources, she moves from where she lives in Birmingham to northern Scotland, because it seems that the people there have a real need for a bookstore and her mobile one is even a better idea, because she can travel to lots of small towns. Soon, she finds herself becoming part of a community–and maybe even finding love.
Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner is a charming novel filled with quirky characters, friendship, and romance.
In 1986 in Oklahoma City, the employees of a movie theater are murdered during a robbery. Wyatt, now a private investigator in Las Vegas, was the only survivor. When asked by a friend to travel to Oklahoma City and find out who’s been harassing the new owner of a local rock club, he finds himself revisiting the scene of the massacre, as well as unearthing long dormant memories.
Another crime in 1986, although not connected, was the disappearance of Julianna’s older sister, Genevieve, at the Oklahoma State Fair. Julianna has been in an emotional fog since, desperate to know what happened to her sister. Both Wyatt and Julianna explore their pasts, finding new clues that will hopefully bring them both some closure. The Long and Faraway Gone is a character-centered novel reminiscent of Dennis Lehane. Lou Berney’s mystery won an Edgar award for Best Paperback Original, deservedly so.
When Lu Brant is elected the first female state’s attorney of a county outside Baltimore, it should be the pinnacle of her career, but when she decides to try a murder case against homeless Rudy Drysdale, she’s forced to confront buried memories of her own childhood. Lu’s brother A.J. was involved at 18 in an incident where he broke his arm and another man died. Lu was ten at the time, enamored of popular A.J. and his group of friends. No charges were ever brought against anyone, but as Lu proceeds in her case, she finds that Drysdale was two years behind A.J. in school and that they might have known each other. Lu also reflects on being raised by her father, also a state’s attorney, after her mother died while Lu was very young.
Wilde Lake is a novel that transports you to 1970s and 1980s suburban Baltimore and fully immerses the reader in a world of childhood and family secrets. Like Laura Lippman‘s best novels, Wilde Lake is a book that stay with you even after the last page is turned.
John Nichols is on a road trip from Chicago to South Carolina to attend his oldest daughter Karen’s wedding. Accompanying him is his nineteen-year-old son, Ethan, who has autism. Travelling with Ethan is so difficult that John feels they can only drive several hours each day. In fact, living with Ethan has put a strain on everyone in the family, and John and his wife, Mary, divorced after he had an affair. John also has a secret agenda for this trip: a spot has opened up at a group home in Maine for Ethan to live full time. Mary and John agreed a while ago that the place is perfect for Ethan. They just didn’t expect an opening so soon. How will the family let Ethan go after he has been such a huge part of their lives for so many years? In It’s. Nice. Outside., Jim Kokoris has written a realistic, at times humorous, look at how each member of a family is affected by living with a special needs child.
Needing a change, Addie decides to move from Chicago to the small town of Eunice, Arkansas, after inheriting her Aunt Tilda’s house. Addie used to spend time each summer as a child with Tilda, but it’s been many years since she visited. Addie’s plan is to stay a few months to fix her aunt’s house up so she can sell it.
However, after rescuing an abandoned dog she names Felix, becoming friends with Wanda Carter (who is the queen of sassy southern sayings), and falling for lawyer/farmer Jasper Floyd, she just might find it too hard to leave. Despite all this, Addie finds herself in trouble after she refuses ignore the fact that someone in Eunice is abusing dogs. Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin is a cozy first novel full of charm, romance and quirky characters.
Martha Winter is turning eighty and having a big family party, at which she plans on revealing a secret. Martha and her husband, David (a famous cartoonist) have built what looks like, from the outside, an idyllic life at Winterfold, their home in Surrey. Their granddaughters, Lucy and Cat, now grown, remember it that way too. For Martha and David’s three children, however, there was conflict between Daisy (the middle child) and her siblings–eldest Bill and youngest Florence.
In Harriet Evans’ novel, the reader explores the family’s lives both past and present from many points of view. A Place for Us is an exploration of family relationships and is a real treat for people who enjoy the novels of Joanna Trollope, Rosamunde Pilcher, and early Jojo Moyes.