In present day England, Emma has been hired to revive the gardens at Highbury House that Venetia Smith designed in 1907 for the Melcourt family. Venetia Smith was quite famous for her garden designs, so Emma is thrilled to be working on the project and hopes that the current lady of the house, Sydney, can unearth some documents that will aid her in restoring the gardens to their former glory. A second storyline tells the story of Venetia and her time working at Highbury and falling in love while there. In addition, the novel recounts life at Highbury House in 1944, when the estate was used as a hospital for soldiers during the war. Specifically, it tells the stories of Beth (a Land Girl), Stella (the cook at Highbury) and Diana (Sydney's great grandmother). The Last Garden in England(2021) by Julia Kelly is an engaging story of several women's lives over a century. An added plus was all the descriptions of the flowers and creating the gardens.
Laura is a painter living in present-day Washington D.C. when she gets a call that her brother, Philip, missing since 1972, has been found. Philip disappeared when the family was living in Thailand for their father's job in American intelligence. Laura was the youngest child, Philip the middle, and Bea was the eldest at ten years old. After seeing him on a video call, Laura feels that it probably is Philip. Bea, however, is very skeptical. Laura then decides to travel to Bangkok and bring Philip home. A parallel storyline set in 1972 recounts the family's four years in Thailand--the children's everyday lives, mother Genevieve's affair with their father's boss, and the tale of Noi, one of the servants who accompanies the family back to the states.
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When a Russian pianist is murdered at Windsor Castle on the eve of her 90th birthday celebrations, Queen Elizabeth decides to do some investigating of her own, since it seems the authorities are on the wrong track. With help from her assistant private secretary, Rosie Oshodi, the Queen is able to uncover information that she can covertly use to help the police apprehend the killer.
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Ruth lives with her husband, Xavier, on Chicago's South Side. As an African-American engineer with a degree from Yale, she feels she's made it. However, Xavier is putting pressure on her to start a family, and Ruth cannot stop thinking about the secret she's kept from him--at 17 years old she had a baby, but gave it up. Ruth then finds herself back in her working-class hometown of Ganton, Indiana, wanting answers from her grandmother, who raised her, about the adoption of her baby. While there, Ruth befriends a white boy, Midnight, who is the same age as her son. The Kindest Lie (2021) by Nancy Johnson explores poverty, racism, and family ties. A story with likable characters and situations to ponder, which would also be a good choice for book clubs.
For more book club choices, check out our list of favorites from 2020.
It's 1946 and Billie Walker is back home in Sydney running her own private investigation agency. During the war, Billie was a journalist who met her photographer husband, Jack, in Paris. Jack then went missing two years ago, presumed dead. Billie came back to Australia when her father, also a private eye, fell ill. After her father's death, Billie took over his office and has an assistant--war veteran Sam.
Most of Billie's cases involve marital disputes, but client Mrs. Brown hires her to find her son, Adin, who is missing. Billie's investigation leads her through both the upper and lower classes of society along with providing a great sense of place of post-war Sydney for the reader in addition to the fashions of the time.
Bostonian Kate Kirby is asked to write a magazine article about the Cheapside Hoard, a large amount of jewelry from the 16th and 17th centuries which were found in 1912 by workmen excavating a cellar in London. As a jewelry historian, Kate is excited about being able to see some of the collection up close since most of it is off-view. As she views the jewelry, Kate notices that it's similar to some drawings her great-grandmother Essie had in her possession. Kate wonders if there is some connection between the jewels and her family.
In an alternate storyline, it's 1912 and Essie lives in poverty in London with her mother, brother, and three sisters. The family is barely able to make ends meet when her brother, Freddie, happens to be one of the workers on a job site where a large amount of jewels are discovered. The Lost Jewels (2020) by Kirsty Manning follows Kate on her journey of discovery. A great readalike for Jennifer Robson and Fiona Davis.
Nikki Griffin is a private detective. She also owns a bookstore and practices her own brand of vigilantism against men who abuse women. She is hired by Silicon Valley CEO Gregg Gunn to follow an employee Gunn believes is stealing information from the company. As Nikki observes the employee, Karen Li, she notices that Karen acts more like someone who is scared rather than an errant employee. Soon, Nikki is involved in something that puts her in great danger--and she knows that she has limited time to figure out the puzzle of what Gunn is really involved in before people lose their lives.
Pregnant by her high school art teacher, Izzy Poole decides to join the Infinite Family Project because of the stability it will provide her and her newborn son, Cap. The project is the idea of Dr. Preston Grind and billionaire Brenda Acklen. Basically, ten families with babies agree to live together for ten years and raise the children communally, with the kids not knowing who their real mothers and fathers are for the first several years.
Izzy finds herself fitting in well with the rest of the parents, but starts to develop feelings for Dr. Grind. Not surprisingly, cracks begin to form in the relationships between other participants, too. Will Dr. Grind succeed in his vision of forming lifelong bonds, i.e. families made of people who aren't related?
Perfect Little World(2020) is an intriguing story about an unusual community and the moral compromises that keep it together. Check out this Kevin Wilson novel today—borrow the ebook or audiobook instantly via Hoopla or Overdrive.
Liza, Maggie, and Tricia are the daughters of famous American writer William Sweeney. When he passes away, they reunite at the family home in Connecticut to sort out his affairs. Liza, the oldest, lives with her husband, Whit, and their teenage twins. Middle daughter Maggie is an artist who has floundered as an adult. Youngest Tricia is a successful lawyer in New York. While mourning their father and trying to unearth his memoir (due to his publisher), the women learn that they have another sister, Serena, whom William learned about a month before he died.
The Sweeney Sisters (2020) is the story of the four over the course of a summer as they come to terms with the secret, bond, and move forward. An engaging novel, perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand and readers who love novels about family relationships.
Claire and Eva both have reasons for wanting to disappear, so when they happen upon each other at the airport, they decide to take the other person's flight. However, when one of the planes crashes, the danger they thought they were leaving isn't far behind.
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When Kate's husband John disappears after she believed he was at a conference in London, her life is thrown into turmoil. It's obvious her marriage isn't what she thought it was when Kate discovers that John never even left Australia. Another woman, Abby, lives on an island off the coast, and worries about her husband Ray's strange behavior and feels he is hiding something. In alternating storylines in The Wife and the Widow (2020), Christian White tells the stories of both women whose lives you know are going to intersect in this clever page turner. With two solid novels under his belt, White proves he's a writer to watch.
In 1896, after her family has fallen on hard times, Isabella goes into service as a maid. When an opportunity arises to interview for a cook position at Buckingham Palace, Isabella jumps at the chance, even though it's under false pretenses. After getting the job, Isabella finds that she has a gift for cooking and becomes a trusted member of Queen Victoria's household. However, the memory of her privileged upbringing and the fear of losing her job are never far from her mind. When love possibly comes her way, will Isabella choose a career over being a wife?
When twelve inmates organize a prison break that opens the doors for all the prisoners, the small town of Weldonville, Colorado, will never be the same. Two years after many in the town lost their lives, the mayor and city attorney of the town secretly authorize police officer Leah Hawkins to hunt down the twelve inmates and kill them.
A Small Town (2020) is the story of Leah's journey around the country to find some sense of justice in order for the town to begin to heal. Thomas Perry takes the reader on an action-filled ride that's hard to put down.
It's 1982 and 19-year-old Oona is deciding whether to go to the London School of Economics or on tour with the band she's in with her boyfriend, Dale. However, on New Year's Eve, Oona faints and wakes up in 2015 in her 51-year-old body, but feeling like she's still 19, with those years' memories. While Oona is stunned, her personal assistant, Kenzie, and her mother, Madeleine, explain that every New Year's Eve, Oona jumps backwards or forwards in time to a different year.
Through Oona Out of Order (2020), the reader is with Oona in many different decades of her life and gets to see both the highs and lows. This novel by Margarita Montimore is a clever and entertaining page turner.
In the Aisles (2018) tells the story of Christian, a new worker at a big box store in former East Germany. Taken under the wing by his coworker Bruno, Christian becomes enamored of a fellow employee, Marion. Check out this quiet leisurely-paced film full of charm and complex emotion.
In German with English subtitles.