Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy (2018)

Historical Fiction
Adult

Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy (2018)

How amazing that a single dangling literary thread can lead to this lovely creation. There is a line in Anne of Green Gables in which Marilla refers to Gilbert Blythe’s father as a good friend, perhaps even her one-time beau. From that mysterious remark, Sarah McCoy has created an entire backstory for Marilla and Matthew before Anne, and it is a spellbinding story indeed. I’m a lifelong Anne fan, of course, having fallen under her spell more than 40 years ago. I have read the novels several times, and as I get older I enjoy them ever more, from Anne the spunky tween who first arrives on the Island to the mature woman of Ingleside, still blessed with a sense of humour, along with a heart full of both love and sorrow. But back to this creation.

Read More »
Advertisements

The Red Address Book, by Sofia Lundberg (2019)

Historical Fiction
Adult

The Red Address Book, by Sofia Lundberg (2019)

How do we want to be remembered? Even close friends of many years are often surprised to learn our stories of growing up, of jobs had and lost, of paths taken and ignored. Doris is 96 years old; she has outlived all her friends and nearly all her family, and her days are spent in pain. The bright note in her life is a weekly Skype call to Jenny, her only living relative who is in America. Thumbing through her beloved red address book, given to her as a child by her father, Doris sees so many names crossed out, and remembers their stories and hers. She decides to write these stories down for Jenny, from her childhood in Sweden, modelling in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, falling in love, escaping to New York City with her sister when Hitler invaded France, and eventually returning to Stockholm where she now lives.

Read More »

The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (2018)

Science Fiction
Adult

The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (2018)

In this alternative history of space flight, a meteorite strikes in 1952 just off the east coast of the United States, destroying Washington D.C. and forcing the New White House inland. It also spawns a “meteor winter” and future global warming that threaten humanity’s survival, fomenting the development of rockets a full decade earlier than in real life. But historical reality retains its grip in this novel that spans most of the 1950s – racism abounds, as does a chauvinist perspective that limits women to the role of computers as they perform the mathematical calculations that will launch rockets and eventually put (male) astronauts in space.

Read More »

The Thing About Clare, by Imogen Clark (2018)

Fiction
Adult

The Thing About Clare, by Imogen Clark (2018)

All families have secrets, but some secrets can be devastating. Should they stay buried? When mother Dorothy passes away, the four Bliss siblings – sensible Miriam, wild and unpredictable Clare, favourite child Anna, and adored little brother Sebastian – gather at the funeral, where we learn Anna has, in response to Dorothy’s dying plea, retrieved her will and an accompanying letter. But she has not destroyed them as her mother asked. Anna eventually discovers why her mother was so desperate to bury the secret, and now carries the burden herself. It’s a secret that could change her siblings’ lives forever.

Read More »

The Clockmaker’s Daughter, by Kate Morton (2018)

Historical Mystery
Adult

The Clockmaker's Daughter, by Kate Morton

Here’s another genre-blending blockbuster from Kate Morton, author of The Lake House and The Forgotten Garden, among others. It’s an historical mystery, a gothic ghost story, and a family saga. Best of all it features an archivist! Londoner Elodie Winslow is in her early 30s, engaged to be married though fed up with the wedding preparations and planning expected by her future mother-in-law. She seizes the opportunity for distraction when she discovers an uncatalogued box of items, including a sketch of a beautiful woman and another of riverside house that seems hauntingly familiar. It turns out to be Birchwood Manor, where a young group of Victorian-era artists spent a month in July 1862, a stay that ended with one woman dead and another missing, the theft of a priceless diamond, and a promising artist’s life is ruined.

Read More »

Transcription, by Kate Atkinson (2018)

Historical Fiction
Adult

Transcription, by Kate Atkinson

The author of Life After Life returns with what is overtly a British World War II spy novel, filled with espionage, double agents, secrets,  lies, and eventually murder. But it is also a spectacular commentary on the many lives of womanhood. Opening (and closing) in 1981 when Juliet Armstrong is hit by a car, the bulk of the book shifts back and forth between 1940 and 1950. Juliet is not yet 20 years old when she is recruited to Britain’s MI5, as the war with Hitler is raging. Her hopes for tertiary education are dashed when her mother dies unexpectedly. Armed instead with secretarial skills, she’s hired to transcribe recordings of meetings with Fascist sympathizers in Britain who think they are reporting to a German agent.

Read More »

The House of One Thousand Eyes, by Michelle Barker (2018)

Historical Fiction
15-18

Set in East Berlin in 1983, this is an historically accurate depiction of life behind the Berlin Wall. Lena Altmann is 17 years old. She lives with her Auntie, a staunch Party member, in a nice apartment where there is even a telephone (though Lena has never heard it ring). Lena is grateful to her strict Auntie for taking her in after a brief but brutal stay in a psychiatric hospital due to her deep grief over suddenly losing her parents in a factory accident. Auntie even got her a job cleaning the Stasi headquarters. Sundays are the best day of the week for Lena, as she gets to visit her beloved Uncle Erich. He is a writer who teaches her about subtexts, the “other  story” that lets him publish books that are secretly critical of the government.

Read More »