I gobbled up three books recently—while reading the Bridgerton collection, I might add—and I have to recommend them all with many, many stars.
One is set during the Cold War. One is set in medieval Wales while the third is contemporary, set in Milford, Georgia.
And they’re all related. But not the way you might think.
I got to know the authors of all three at the Historical Novel Society conference. Held virtually this year instead of in San Antonio, HNS brings together writers, readers, and researchers who love historical fiction.
I decided as I listened to talks on everything from research to creating dual timelines that I was buying books. These are the first three I picked up.
Fiona Davis‘ THE CHELSEA GIRLS isn’t even her newest book but I was captured from the cover of a chic woman getting out of a 1950s car. It combines Broadway, Hollywood, Communists and the House Un-American Activities Committee, all through the eyes of an ambitious actress and a first-time playwright. Maxine and Hazel become friends during a USO tour in Europe and I was hooked from the first time a nervous Hazel stepped on stage in front of hundreds of lonely GIs. Hazel turns her experiences into a Broadway play—while being hounded by accusations that she’s a Communist.
I won’t give more of the plot away. But the tension Ms. Davis builds as these characters seek fame and fortune had me turning pages until there were no more left.
Not only was it entertaining, it left me breathless over themes of free speech and the meaning of democracy.
Sarah Woodbury‘s DAUGHTER OF TIME is the first of a series, The After Cilmeri Series. Somehow, she’s not sure how, Meg and her daughter travels back in time to the rough and tumble castle of a man named Llywelyn. It reminded me of OUTLANDER at first. I was charmed by Meg’s daughter Anna, much as Llywelyn is. Ms. Woodbury makes this strange, distant past seem like something happening right outside my window. I may have stumbled over the names but it was a struggle I was willing to make to see how, and if, Meg and Anna return to the Twenty-first century. Do they? Go read it for yourself.
I read several of the Migrations of the Heart series by Piper Huguley after I met her during the 2019 HNS conference. My favorite was A Virtuous Ruby, the story of a healer in small town Georgia who butts heads with a newcomer–and a doctor. When I heard Hallmark was releasing Ms. Huguley’s sweet romance SWEET TEA, I knew I was in. Althea is a prestigious New York lawyer who comes home to see her grandmother. Jack is in town working on a documentary about authentic southern food. Althea just doesn’t trust him, though her grandmother sure does. This book is sweet, yes, and as lovely as swinging on a porch with an afternoon breeze.