The Night She Won Miss America: A Novel by Michael CallahanA modern-day reporter investigates the scandal that engulfed the 1950 Miss America Pageant in this novel by the author of Searching for Grace Kelly. When studious Betty Jane Welch enters the pageant circuit at the behest of her domineering mother, she doesn't expect to win. And no one expects her to disappear. The Night She Won Miss America may appeal to fans of Fiona Davis' The Dollhouse, which also shifts between mid-century and present-day perspectives to reveal the truth behind a decades-old mystery.
Miss Burma by Charmaine CraigIn 1939, Benny, an Anglo-Indian pugilist from Rangoon's Jewish quarter, falls in love with Khin, a Karen woman. Their daughter, Louisa, grows up to be a beauty queen and an unlikely symbol of unity in a divided nation. Based on author Charmaine Craig's own family history, this sweeping saga brings to life a tumultuous half-century in the history of Burma (Myanmar) that includes British colonial rule, World War II and Japanese occupation, independence, and military dictatorship.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli by Alyssa PalomboShortly after her marriage to a nobleman, Simonetta Vespucci (née Cattaneo) arrives in Florence eager to experience the city's art, scholarship, and culture. Hailed as "la bella Simonetta," she becomes -- thanks to her connection to the powerful Medici family -- the muse of artist Sandro Botticelli and the inspiration for some of his most famous paintings. Fans of Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus should enjoy this lush, romantic novel set during the Italian Renaissance.
The Witchfinder's Sister: A Novel by Beth UnderdownWith the English Civil War raging and the country "falling apart at the seams," pregnant widow Alice returns to Manningtree, Essex, to live with her brother, the self-proclaimed "Witchfinder General" Matthew Hopkins. Unfortunately, in her absence Matthew has changed from a sensitive man young man set on joining the clergy to one whose mission in life is to put vulnerable women to death. Inspired by historical events, this compelling novel's leisurely pace builds to a dramatic climax as Alice gradually perceives the danger of the situation.
The Movement of Stars by Amy BrillAn oddity in her 19th-century Quaker community, 24-year-old amateur astronomer Hannah Price searches the skies above Nantucket with her telescope each night in the hope of discovering a new comet. Her father expects her to marry (and soon!), but Hannah only cares about astronomy -- until she meets Isaac Martin, a black sailor from the Azores who asks Hannah to teach him the science of navigation. Loosely based on the life of Maria Mitchell, the first American woman to become a professional astronomer, The Movement of Stars is a thought-provoking and dramatic story.
The Stargazer's Sister: A Novel by Carrie Brown"Save me," Caroline Herschel begs elder brother William, who rescues her from their family's home in Hanover, Germany and brings her to England to serve as his housekeeper and assistant. Together, they build an observatory with a 40-foot telescope and set to work cataloging the stars. But when William weds a wealthy widow, Caroline -- unmarried, penniless, and now homeless -- must make her own way in the world after a lifetime of serving others. Based on the life of groundbreaking 18th-century scientist Caroline Herschel, The Stargazer's Sister is a richly detailed novel about Europe's first female professional astronomer.
The Lieutenant: A Novel by Kate GrenvilleEighteenth-century English lieutenant Daniel Rooke is gifted at astronomy and mathematics, but hopeless when it comes to interacting with people. The one exception is his surprising friendship with Tagaran, a young Aboriginal girl whom Daniel meets when his ship, the HMS Resolution, arrives in New South Wales, Australia. While his intent is to build an observatory to search for an elusive comet, Daniel soon becomes fascinated by the life and language of Tagaran's people -- to the dismay of both of their cultures. Kate Grenville's novel of Australian history serves as a companion book to her previous novel, the Commonwealth Writer's Prize-winning The Secret River.
Equilateral: A Novel by Ken KalfusIs there life on Mars? Victorian astronomer Sanford Thayer thinks so and sets out to build an enormous signal beacon in the Sahara desert to contact the Martians. Despite generous backing by wealthy investors, the project is imperiled by malaria, a disgruntled local labor force, and Thayer's all-consuming obsession. Readers who enjoyed Arthur Phillips' The Egyptologist may appreciate this darkly humorous chronicle of scientific discovery and self-delusion in the desert.
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