Category Archives: Historical (20s)

Review: The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Title: The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical (20s), Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Why would the world’s most famous mystery writer disappear for eleven days? What makes a woman desperate enough to destroy another woman’s marriage? How deeply can a person crave revenge?

In 1925, Miss Nan O’Dea infiltrated the wealthy, rarefied world of author Agatha Christie and her husband, Archie. In every way, she became a part of their life––first, both Christies. Then, just Archie. Soon, Nan became Archie’s mistress, luring him away from his devoted wife, desperate to marry him. Nan’s plot didn’t begin the day she met Archie and Agatha.

It began decades before, in Ireland, when Nan was a young girl. She and the man she loved were a star-crossed couple who were destined to be together––until the Great War, a pandemic, and shameful secrets tore them apart. Then acts of unspeakable cruelty kept them separated.

What drives someone to murder? What will someone do in the name of love? What kind of crime can someone never forgive? Nina de Gramont’s brilliant, unforgettable novel explores these questions and more.


The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont is a clever historical mystery that reimagines Agatha Christie’s unexplained eleven-day disappearance in 1926.

Famed mystery writer Agatha Christie leaves home one evening and seemingly vanishes into thin air. Police quickly located her prize automobile and the car’s location raises questions about suicide. When this theory is disproven, large search parties begin looking for the missing author. The newspapers feverishly cover the story, other mystery authors try to solve the mystery and people who dabble in the paranormal attempt to find her.  The publicity pays off when someone recognizes her and calls the police to reveal her whereabouts: a spa hotel in Harrogate.  In The Christie Affair, Nina de Gramont offers an imaginative scenario for Agatha Christie’s still puzzling disappearance.

Agatha is married to Colonel Archie Christie and they are the parents of a darling seven-year-old daughter. He is a businessman and Agatha’s star is rising as a successful mystery author.  The night  she vanishes coincides with Archie informing her of his plans to divorce her. He is having an affair with Nan O’Dea and he plans to marry her after their divorce is final. After dropping the bombshell news on Agatha, Archie and Nan depart for a  weekend party at a friend’s home. Meanwhile, later that evening, Agatha leaves and vanishes for eleven days.

Nan is in her twenties and through a series of intriguing flashbacks, her sweet yet ultimately doomed romance with Irishman Finnbarr Mahoney is revealed. Nan lives in England but her father is from Ireland and it is while visiting her uncle that she meets Finnbarr.  Their budding romance is interrupted by World War I and after his return, Finnbarr’s bout with the Spanish Flu.

Inspector Frank Chilton, who is also a WWI veteran, is called out of retirement to help look for Agatha. He is a kind man who is also struggling with the aftermath of the war. By sheer coincidence, Frank stays at the same hotel where Nan is staying. A bit of drama interrupts his search when a newly married couple dies under suspicious circumstances while honeymooning at the hotel.

The Christie Affair is a captivating historical mystery with an ingenious plot. The characters are well-rounded with relatable strengths and weaknesses. The story unfolds from Nan’s perspective and she is a surprisingly sympathetic character. The storyline weaves back and forth in time and after a bit of a slow start, the pacing gradually picks up steam. With truly jaw-dropping revelations and stunning plot twists, Nina de Gramont brings this brilliant novel to a superb conclusion.

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Filed under Historical, Historical (20s), Mystery, Nina de Gramont, Rated B, Review, St Martin's Press, The Christie Affair

Review: The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger

Title: The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Historical, Women’s Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The glitzy days of 1920s New York meet the devastation of those left behind in World War II in a new, delectable historical novel from USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger.

In the final months of World War II, San Francisco newspaper secretary Ellie Morgan should be planning her wedding and subsequent exit from the newsroom into domestic life. Instead, Ellie, who harbors dreams of having her own column, is using all the skills she’s learned as a would-be reporter to try to uncover any scrap of evidence that her missing pilot father is still alive. But when she discovers a stack of love letters from a woman who is not her mother in his possessions, her already fragile world goes into a tailspin, and she vows to find out the truth about the father she loves—and the woman who loved him back.

When Ellie arrives on her aunt Iris’s doorstep, clutching a stack of letters and uttering a name Iris hasn’t heard in decades, Iris is terrified. She’s hidden her past as a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl from her family, and her experiences in New York City in the 1920s could reveal much more than the origin of her brother-in-law’s alleged affair. Iris’s heady days in the spotlight weren’t enough to outshine the darker underbelly of Jazz Age New York, and she’s spent the past twenty years believing that her actions in those days led to murder.

Together the two women embark on a cross-country mission to find the truth in the City That Never Sleeps, a journey that just might shatter everything they thought they knew—not only about the past but about their own futures.

Inspired by a true Jazz Age murder cold case that captivated the nation, and the fact that more than 72,000 Americans still remain unaccounted for from World War II, The Pilot’s Daughter is a page-turning exploration of the stories we tell ourselves and of how well we can truly know those we love.


The Pilot’s Daughter by Meredith Jaeger is an absolutely riveting novel that features two different timelines.

It is 1945 and Ellie Morgan is deeply mourning her father’s probable death. He is a pilot during WWII and his plane has been shot down and there are no survivors. Her mother, Clara, is in a deep depression but Ellie keeps busy working and corresponding with the wives and parents of the other men on the plane. She is a secretary at a local newspaper but Ellie has aspirations of becoming a journalist. She is also engaged and her fiancé Tom Davenport is pressuring her to plan their wedding. But after her father’s belongings are returned to them, Ellie makes a shocking discovery. She finds a bundle of letters that give every indication that her father was involved in a long-time affair with a woman in New York. After planning to go to New York to find answers, she turns to her beloved Aunt Iris for information. She is completely shocked by her aunt’s reaction and Iris decides to accompany her on her trip.  Already in denial that her beloved father is dead, is Ellie prepared for what she might learn?

Ellie is in her mid-twenties and she still lives at home. Her relationship with Tom has been a bit of a whirlwind. Even though women have filled men’s jobs while they are off at war, they are still expected to marry and have a family. As Tom pushes her to plan their wedding, Ellie begins to realize that she is not at all happy at the thought of giving up her dream of writing a newspaper column. As she and Iris search for the author of the letters, Ellie begins to uneasily question whether or not she is making the right decision to marry Tom. But is she prepared to buck tradition and her mother’s expectations in order to pursue her dreams?

As a young woman, Iris leaves home and moves to New York. She becomes a Ziegfield Follies showgirl and by the early 1920s, she is the lead dancer and basks in the limelight. Although Iris finally returns home, her past continues to haunt her. Going with her niece to New York revives all of her memories of a very dark time in her life but she has some of the answers Ellie needs. Having carried a guilt secret for over twenty years, will Iris discover there is any truth to her fears?

The Pilot’s Daughter is a fascinating novel with an intriguing storyline. Ellie is an interesting character with a few irritating traits that sometimes make it difficult to fully like her. But she grows and evolves throughout the story as her aunt’s past experiences help her make a difficult choice. Iris is an incredibly well-developed character whose former life as a showgirl incorporates the real life Ziegfield Follies and the still unsolved murder of Dorothy King into the storyline. Meredith Jaeger brings the various settings and the past vibrantly to life in this captivating novel.

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Filed under Dutton, Historical, Historical (20s), Historical (40s), Meredith Jaeger, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, The Pilots Daughter, Women's Fiction

Review: When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown

Title: When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In When Stars Rain Down, Angela Jackson-Brown introduces readers to a small, Southern town grappling with haunting questions still relevant today—and to a young woman whose search for meaning resonates across the ages.

This summer has the potential to change everything.

The summer of 1936 in Parsons, Georgia, is unseasonably hot, and Opal Pruitt senses a nameless storm brewing. She hopes this foreboding feeling won’t overshadow her upcoming eighteenth birthday or the annual Founder’s Day celebration in just a few weeks. She and her Grandma Birdie work as housekeepers for the white widow Miss Peggy, and Opal desperately wants some time to be young and carefree with her cousins and friends.

But when the Ku Klux Klan descends on Opal’s neighborhood, the tight-knit community is shaken in every way possible. Parsons’s residents—both Black and white—are forced to acknowledge the unspoken codes of conduct in their post-Reconstruction era town. To complicate matters, Opal finds herself torn between two unexpected romantic interests—the son of her pastor, Cedric Perkins, and the grandson of the woman she works for, Jimmy Earl Ketchums. Both young men awaken emotions Opal has never felt before.


When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown is a captivating historical novel that is socially relevant in today’s world.

In 1936, Opal Pruitt is looking forward to her eighteenth birthday. She lives with family matriarch Bridie and they both work for Miss Peggy. Although the Pruitt family is close-knit, Birdie is very independent and knows her own mind.  The family is very protective of Opal  but they cannot shield her from volatile racial violence that is about to boil over.

Opal is a hardworking young woman who loves her Granny dearly. She has lived a fairly sheltered life and Granny keeps a close eye on her. Opal has a soft spot for Miss Peggy’s grandson Jimmy Earl Ketchums but they can never be anything but friends. The preacher’s son Cedric Perkins makes no effort to hide his interest in her, but will Granny agree to let Opal spend time with him?

The annual Parsons Founder’s Day celebration is coming up, but trouble is looming on the horizon. Word gets back to Granny that the Ku Klux Klan is planning to ride through their part of town. Outside of property damage, they emerge from the frightening ordeal unscathed. But Opal has caught the attention of someone who believes she is his for the taking, and tensions rise after she assaulted. When the situation eventually turns violent, everyone’s lives are forever changed.

When Stars Rain Down is a thoroughly engrossing novel with a storyline that is timeless. The characters are extremely well-drawn with relatable strengths and weaknesses. The plot is multi-layered and could easily take place today. The setting is easy to visualize and springs vibrantly to life. Angela Jackson-Brown brings this heartfelt novel to a poignant conclusion. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this incredible novel.

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Filed under Angela Jackson Brown, Contemporary, Fiction, Historical, Historical (20s), Rated B+, Review, Thomas Nelson Publishing, When Stars Rain Down

Review: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Supernatural, Thriller
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.


The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon is an atmospheric supernatural thriller.

Growing up, Jax Metcalf and her sister Lexi spend their summers at their grandmother’s house Sparrow Crest. The girls are mostly unsupervised as they roam around the grounds and go to town. But the best part of their days is when they are swimming in the natural spring pool. Breaking their grandmother’s rules, Lexi and Jax swim after dark and alone.

The girls are close until Lexi’s bipolar disorder leads to Jax distancing herself from her sister in adulthood. Jax is now a social worker whose resentment over Lexi inheriting Sparrow Crest causes her to ignore her sister. After not answering or returning Lexi’s frantic calls one night, Jax is shocked when her Aunt Diane discovers her sister has drowned. Returning to Sparrow Crest for Lexi’s funeral, Jax tries to figure out why her sister was apparently studying their family history, Sparrow Crest and the pool. Will Jax continue her Lexi’s research?

In 1929, Ethel Monroe and her husband, Will are newly married and trying for a baby. Ethel is so desperate to get pregnant she is willing to try anything. After one of her friends tells her of magic springs that grant wishes, she and Will spend a few nights at the new, luxurious hotel built by the magical water. Ethel ignores her friend’s warning that once the wish is granted, there will be a price to pay. She and Will are delighted when she soon becomes pregnant. But Ethel and Will go to great lengths to keep their baby healthy after her birth.

The Drowning Kind is a riveting supernatural thriller with a clever storyline. Jax’s remorse over not talking to Lexi takes her down a dangerous path. Sparrow Crest and the swimming pool have a dark history that is very intriguing. The story is well-written and features an interesting cast of characters. With unexpected twists and turns, Jennifer McMahon brings this eerie thriller to a shocking conclusion.

I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this deliciously spooky novel.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Ghosts, Historical, Historical (20s), Jennifer McMahon, Rated B+, Review, Supernatural Elements, The Drowning Kind, Thriller

Review: Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

Title: Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Historical (50s & 90s), Women’s Fiction, Mystery
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the bestselling author of The Things We Cannot Say comes a poignant post-WWII novel that explores the expectations society places on women set within an engrossing family mystery that may unravel everything once believed to be true.

With her father recently moved to a care facility, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home and is surprised to discover the door to her childhood playroom padlocked. She’s even more shocked at what’s behind it—a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers and miscellaneous junk in the otherwise fastidiously tidy house.

As she picks through the clutter, she finds a loose journal entry in what appears to be her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing their mother died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker.

Beth soon pieces together a disturbing portrait of a woman suffering from postpartum depression and a husband who bears little resemblance to the loving father Beth and her siblings know. With a newborn of her own and struggling with motherhood, Beth finds there may be more tying her and her mother together than she ever suspected.


Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer is a touching novel that also features a slight mystery element.

In 1996, Beth Evans, her sister Ruth Turner, and their brothers Tim and Jeremy Walsh are devastated that their beloved father Patrick’s health problems have drastically deteriorated. After moving him into hospice care, Beth volunteers to pack up the house so they can decide what to do with it. Shocked by a discovery in the attic, Beth becomes obsessed with learning the truth about their long deceased mother Grace.

In the late 1950s, Grace is a young wife who dearly loves her husband. Already struggling financially, the birth of four children in quick succession is taking a huge mental toll on Grace. Left on her own to care their kids, Grace battles deep postpartum depression that worsens with each subsequent baby.  With Patrick failing to understand how deeply hopeless and lonely she feels, Grace puts her dark thoughts to paper hoping for relief. But becoming increasingly desperate, she turns to her older sister Mary Ann for help.

After years of infertility, Beth and her husband Hunter are now parents to five month old Noah.  Beth is still on maternity leave and she keeps her doubts and insecurities to herself.  But it is soon apparent to Hunter and the rest of her family that Beth is dealing with something much worse than new parent anxieties and  exhaustion. Although Beth tries to convince them she is just trying to traverse the intricacies of new motherhood while preparing to lose her beloved father, will she accept that she needs professional help?

Grace’s portion of the storyline is told through the letters she writes that her children later unearth.  They are confronted with a very different portrait of the father they adore.  Beth is also troubled by conflicting information she discovers that leads to a bit of a mystery about those long ago events.  Can the siblings uncover the truth about what happened to their mother?

Truths I Never Told You is an engrossing novel with a storyline that deals with postpartum depression in two different time periods.  The story also touches on women’s expected roles, their limited choices and lack of autonomy during the late 1950s. The characters are three-dimensional and while it is easy to empathize with their circumstances, some are more likeable than others. Kelly Rimmer delicately broaches difficult subject matter with a great deal of sensitivity.  The novel comes to a satisfying and uplifting conclusion. A well-written story that is quite thought-provoking. Highly recommend.

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Filed under Graydon House, Historical (20s), Historical (50s), Historical (90s), Kelly Rimmer, Rated B+, Review, Truths I Never Told You, Women's Fiction

Review: The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott

Title: The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott
A Novel of the Great War
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical (’20s), World War I, Fiction
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I.

1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis is still missing. Francis is presumed to have been killed in action, but Edie knows he is alive.

Harry, Francis’s brother, was there the day Francis went missing in Ypres. And like Edie, he’s hopeful Francis is living somewhere in France, lost and confused. Hired by grieving families in need of closure, Harry returns to the Western Front to photograph soldiers’ graves. As he travels through France gathering news for British wives and mothers, he searches for evidence his own brother is still alive.

When Edie receives a mysterious photograph that she believes was taken by Francis, she is more certain than ever he isn’t dead. Edie embarks on her own journey in the hope of finding some trace of her husband. Is he truly gone, or could he still be alive? And if he is, why hasn’t he come home?

As Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the truth about Francis and, as they do, are soon faced with the life-changing impact of the answers they discover.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history—those years after the war that were filled with the unknown—The Poppy Wife tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins in battle-scarred France; and the even greater number of men and women hoping to find them again.


Set in 1921, The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott is a poignant novel that offers a heartbreaking glimpse of families searching for answers about their missing and deceased loved ones after World War I.

Edie Blythe is shocked to receive a picture of her husband, Francis, four years after he is reported missing during his service in World War I.  This raises many questions including whether or not he is still, in fact, alive. Edie reaches out to her brother-in-law Harry who served with his brother during the war. Harry is certain his brother is dead, but, like Edie, there is a glimmer of hope Francis might have survived. Harry is already traveling throughout France taking photos of soldiers’ graves for their grieving families. Using Francis’ photographs to guide him, Harry retraces his brother’s footsteps in hopes of finding out the truth.

Written mostly from Harry’s perspective as he endeavors to find the graves of fallen soldiers, he is quite introspective as he flashes back to his wartime experiences. The pages are filled with long, descriptive passages of battles and military life. While the prose is quite descriptive, the story gets bogged down with the lengthy, overly detailed passages. In the present, Harry meets many interesting people on his journey which provides readers with insight into how former soldiers and their families cope in the aftermath of war.

Several chapters are written from Edie’s point of view as she wrestles with the possibility that Francis is still alive. Her remembrances of her husband are tender yet a bit painful as she realizes how much war and loss changed him.  Edie sets out on her trip to try to learn the truth about Francis.  After a shocking discovery, Edie returns home where she tries to put her grief and guilt behind her.

Inspired by Caroline Scott’s family history, The Poppy Wife is a very bittersweet novel that highlights the uncertainty families endured when their loved one is declared missing. I highly recommend this educational novel to readers of historical fiction.

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Filed under Caroline Scott, Fiction, Historical, Historical (20s), Rated C+, Review, The Poppy Wife, William Morrow Paperbacks, World War I