Carnegie's Maid by Marie BenedictWhat it's about: Hired as a lady's maid to Margaret Carnegie, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly becomes the confidant of her mistress' son, wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie. However, their differences in station may doom their budding relationship.
Why you might like it: Carnegie's Maid offers a chaste love story and plenty of upstairs/downstairs drama, as well as a nuanced depiction of the immigrant experience in the rapidly industrializing 1860s United States.
The Girls in the Picture by Melanie BenjaminStarring: Silent film actress Mary Pickford and screenwriter Frances Marion, whose (complicated) friendship underpins their enduring creative partnership.
Read it for: an engaging story anchored by strong female characters, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the early years of America's film industry.
For fans of: Karina Longworth's podcast You Must Remember This, which focuses on both famous and lesser-known figures in Hollywood history.
Red Sky at Noon by Simon Sebag MontefioreWhat it's about: Sprung from the gulag and assigned to one of Stalin's penal battalions, middle-aged Jewish writer Benya Golden becomes an unwilling combatant in the Eastern Front of World War II. His situation goes from bad to worse when a disastrous battle leaves him trapped behind enemy lines.
Series alert: Benya first appeared as a supporting character in author Simon Sebag Montefiore's novel Sashenka, which also makes use of complex characters and meticulous research to illuminate Soviet history.
Peculiar ground : a novel
by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
What it's about: Years after an English estate is enclosed within a great wall, the daughter of the estate's manager comes of age amid upheavals shaped by family legends and events of the mid-to-late 20th century.
Why you might like it: an intricately structured story which explores the lives of a variety of people.
Author Alert: fictional debut by the award-winning author of The Pike.
The English Wife by Lauren WilligWhat it's about: Her brother is murdered during a masquerade ball. His glamorous wife is missing. Janie Van Duyvil is determined to discover what happened.
Why you might like it: Parallel narratives, set in Victorian London and Gilded Age New York, blend murder mystery and romantic drama.
Author alert: Best known for her popular Pink Carnation series, author Lauren Willig displays her knack for characterization and twisty plotting to this atmospheric stand-alone.
The Hours Count by Jillian CantorWhat it's about: In 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and executed. Friends and neighbors are shocked: could this ordinary middle-class Jewish-American couple really have sold atomic secrets to the Soviets?
Why you should read it: This haunting novel reveals a dark chapter of 20th-century American history in which anti-Semitism and Cold War paranoia collide with tragic results.
The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs HoffmanFeaturing: Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, whose union, though loving, proves to be as turbulent as the American Revolution.
Why you should read it: The ten-dollar founding father continues to be a hot topic, thanks to the hit Broadway musical.
You might also like: Susan Holloway Scott's I, Eliza Hamilton, which takes the form of a fictional memoir, or Stephanie Dray's forthcoming My Dear Hamilton, which draws on the couple's correspondence.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy HoranStarring: Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, the American divorcée who becomes his wife, collaborator, and traveling companion.
Author alert: Though it's got a happier ending than Loving Frank, Nancy Horan's latest novel also follows a creative couple's scandalous courtship and unconventional love affair.
For fans of: the authentic characters in Erica Robuck's Call Me Zelda or The House of Hawthorne, both of which feature literary couples.
Mrs. Houdini by Victoria KellyWhat it's about: Bess Houdini, widow of famous magician Harry Houdini, reflects on her marriage while searching for the coded messages her husband promised he'd send from the afterlife.
Read it for: an intimate portrait of a marriage that evolves alongside Houdini's rise from vaudeville curiosity to international celebrity.
You might also like: Steven Galloway's The Confabulist, which similarly adds a dash of supernatural intrigue to the life of Houdini.
Villa America by Liza KlaussmannIntroducing: Married American expats Sara and Gerald Murphy, who decamp to the French Riviera in the 1920s and become the center of a social circle that inspires F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel Tender is the Night.
Look for: cameos by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso, among other Lost Generation luminaries.
You might also like: Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, whose characters and setting overlap with Villa America's as it depicts another glamorous but troubled marriage between cultural icons.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
|Downtown Branch 60 Worsley Street|
Painswick Branch 48 Dean Avenue
705-728-1010 | barrielibrary.ca