April Release! My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Summary

A Novel of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

“From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton–a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before–not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal–but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right. Continue reading April Release! My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

New Release! The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

Summary

“In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.” Continue reading New Release! The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

2017 Broadway Books

Summary

“When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. 

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again? Continue reading The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

 

2017 Broadway Books

Summary

As England becomes enmeshed in the early days of World War II and the men are away fighting, the women of Chilbury Village forge an uncommon bond. They defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to close the choir and instead “carry on singing,” resurrecting themselves as the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. An enchanting ensemble story that shuttles from village intrigue to romance to the heartbreaking matters of life and death, Jennifer Ryan’s debut novel thrillingly illuminates the true strength of the women in a village of indomitable spirit.” Continue reading The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Touchstone 2010

Summary

“Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young white Lavania arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to stradle the worlds of the kitchen and big houses, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves. 

Review

I fell deep into this page turner in the very first chapter. Well researched and beautifully written, The Kitchen House is a story of heartbreak,love, race and daily life in early America for slaves. Told through the eyes of white indentured Lavinia, and black slave Belle (who is also the daughter of the master) this book isn’t a happy one. It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time overwhelmingly heart warming. The unconditional love in this story is pure.

The book is written chronologically through a matter of years, starting with Lavinia arriviving at the plantation as an indentured servant under the care of Belle, a young woman herself.  You feel the innocence of Lavinia as she loves and longs for her new family, with total color blindness, while being reminded even as a child by the master’s family of her different place even as a servant herself.

As she grows, this naivety becomes a problem. Even as well intentioned as she is, her lack of understanding of race becomes a major issue, even with potential harm for those she loves the most.

Through Belle (whose POV I wish there was more of) we learn the terrible consequences of a lie, and how one lie can do more damage than the hurtful truth would. She’s a strong woman and proud of who she is, and her character and story is my personal favorite.

Grissom’s research served this book well. The truth is the truth, as ugly as it may be-historical fiction is one of the best outlets for truth telling. Indentured servitude and slavery is not the same. Nor was the treatment of white indentured servants and black slaves. In history there have been Prince’s, well educated, and very wealthy men and women who were sold into slavery and treated in the most inhumane, immoral ways with zero decency; whereas a poor white indentured servant was given the very basics of moral decency and dignity with opportunities even the Prince slave was not.

I had no love in this story for the master and his family, even the characters that treated the slaves well. The family of The Kitchen House is the foundation of this book. You’ll laugh and cry and most importantly, the love they share is the very definition of unconditional.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jessica