The Girl In White Gloves

The Girl In White Gloves by Kerri Maher

Expected publication:  February 25, 2020 – Berkley

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real.

Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks—her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back. (publisher)

My take:  Kerri Maher has a knack for taking an historical figure and telling her imagined story. She did it for Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy in The Kennedy Debutante and now gives readers her take on Grace Kelly’s story. From Grace’s strict Catholic upbringing to her years in Hollywood playing opposite some of the biggest stars of the day to becoming Princess Grace of Monaco, Maher’s story is a touching and thought-provoking portrait of a woman who seemed to have it all. Of course, appearances are one thing and reality is another. I found myself often searching online for photos of different aspects of Kelly’s life and I have a list of her movies I want to watch. Recommended to  fans of Grace Kelly and books about the days of old Hollywood will enjoy The Girl in White Gloves.


About the author:

Kerri Maher is the author of The Kennedy Debutante, which People magazine described as “a riveting reimagining of a true tale of forbidden love,” and This Is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World under the name Kerri Majors. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and founded YARN, an award-winning literary journal of short-form YA writing. A writing professor for many years, she now writes full time and lives with her daughter and dog in a leafy suburb west of Boston, Massachusetts.

Praise for The Girl In White Gloves:

“With royal families once again in the gossip columns, this will be a good choice for readers curious of the inner life of a royal family. It’s an absorbing take on a complicated life.” —Library Journal

“There is much to relish about this well-researched, riveting tale.” —Booklist

“The stunning and very human story of a beloved icon…. Full of nuance and poignancy—this novel is gorgeous.”— Allison PatakiNew York Times bestselling author of The Queen’s Fortune

“[A] fascinating, deeply researched novel of the extraordinary Grace Kelly … establishes Maher as a true force in biographical fiction.”—Beatriz WilliamsNew York Times bestselling author of The Golden Hour


 

The Vineyards of Champagne; US Giveaway

The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell

Published:  January 21, 2020 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Deep within the labyrinth of caves that lies below the lush, rolling vineyards of the Champagne region, an underground city of women and children hums with life. Forced to take shelter from the unrelenting onslaught of German shellfire above, the bravest and most defiant women venture out to pluck sweet grapes for the harvest. But wine is not the only secret preserved in the cool, dark cellars…

In present day, Rosalyn Acosta travels to Champagne to select vintages for her Napa-based employer. Rosalyn doesn’t much care for champagne–or France, for that matter. Since the untimely death of her young husband, Rosalyn finds it a challenge to enjoy anything at all. But as she reads through a precious cache of WWI letters and retraces the lives lived in the limestone tunnels, Rosalyn will unravel a mystery hidden for decades…and find a way to savor her own life again. (publisher)

My take:  The Vineyards of Champagne is Juliet Blackwell’s story of Rosalyn, a young woman adjusting to life as a widow. The wine seller she works for in Napa sends her to Champagne to obtain new wines from small vineyards. On the flight to France she meets Emma, an Australian woman who shares a remarkable story of the brave people of France during WWI. She asks Rosalyn if she’d like to help solve a mystery that involves the area of Champagne and letters between a soldier, a young woman, and an Australian marraine de guerre (war godmother). This is a story of learning to move forward through grief when it would be so easy not to let go of it. My heart broke for what the French people endured during the war years and yet they continued to bring in the harvest and make the wine. The ability to put one foot in front of the other was inspiring. The Vineyards of Champagne touched my heart and I recommend it to fans of Juliet Blackwell and Historical Fiction.


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Meg and Jo by Virginia Kantra

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

Published:  Dec. 3, 2019 – Berkley

Digital galley courtesy of Berkley and NetGalley

Description: The timeless classic Little Women inspired this heartwarming modern tale of four sisters from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.

The March sisters—reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth—have grown up to pursue their separate dreams. When Jo followed her ambitions to New York City, she never thought her career in journalism would come crashing down, leaving her struggling to stay afloat in a gig economy as a prep cook and secret food blogger.

Meg appears to have the life she always planned—the handsome husband, the adorable toddlers, the house in a charming subdivision. But sometimes getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When their mother’s illness forces the sisters home to North Carolina for the holidays, they’ll rediscover what really matters.

One thing’s for sure—they’ll need the strength of family and the power of sisterhood to remake their lives and reimagine their dreams.  (publisher)

My take: Meg and Jo is inspired by Little Women and not a retelling. That increased my enjoyment of the novel. Honestly, I read and loved Little Women when I was a ‘tween back in the 1960s but I haven’t revisited in the decades since. Virginia Kantra’s story centers around older siblings Meg and Jo. Meg is married with twin toddlers. Jo lives in NYC, writes a food blog and works in a restaurant. Both sisters are trying to stay in control of the moving parts of their lives. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes not so much. Life will change for both when their mother has a health crisis and needs them to take over the running of the farm until she is well again. This is a family story full of the usual dynamics and challenges. When all the siblings come home they fall back into the rolls they had as young girls. There’s a lot of truth in that – at least I could relate. There are twists and turns and things fall into place perhaps a bit too easily but I liked Meg and Jo and look forward to reading Amy and Beth’s story.


 

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas

Published:  October 15, 2019 – Berkley

Digital galley courtesy of Berkley and NetGalley

Description: Charlotte Holmes, Lady Sherlock, is back solving new cases in the Victorian-set mystery series from the USA Today bestselling author of The Hollow of Fear.

As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
 
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
 
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia’s admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake… (publisher)

My take:  Since Sherlock Holmes is always indisposed, his sister Charlotte fills in for him – much to prospective clients’ chagrin. Soon they find the confidence to hire Charlotte to solve their problems.

In a world that adheres to strict social rules life isn’t easy for a young woman on the fringes of society. In The Art of Theft we get to know more about Charlotte’s sister Olivia. She’s a writer and is hoping to finish a Sherlock Holmes mystery. She’s also worried about turning thirty years old with no prospects.

This novel takes Charlotte and her ‘team’ of friends to France in search of a painting and other assorted items that pose a threat to an important client. Sherry Thomas uses subtle humor and great pacing to advance the plot culminating in an exciting event that placed me in the middle of the scene. I loved that! The epilogue foreshadows the next book which made me happy and anticipating where Charlotte and her friends’ next task will take them. Recommended to fans of Sherry Thomas, historical mysteries, and a good story.


 

US Giveaway: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati

Berkley Hardcover; September 10, 2019

Description:

From the international bestselling author of The Gilded Hour comes Sara Donati’s enthralling epic about two trailblazing female doctors in nineteenth-century New York
 
Obstetrician Dr. Sophie Savard returns home to the achingly familiar rhythms of Manhattan in the early spring of 1884 to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. With the help of Dr. Anna Savard, her dearest friend, cousin, and fellow physician she plans to continue her work aiding the disadvantaged women society would rather forget.
 
As Sophie sets out to construct a new life for herself, Anna’s husband, Detective-Sergeant Jack Mezzanotte calls on them both to consult on two new cases: the wife of a prominent banker has disappeared into thin air, and the corpse of a young woman is found with baffling wounds that suggest a killer is on the loose.  In New York it seems that the advancement of women has brought out the worst in some men. Unable to ignore the plight of New York’s less fortunate, these intrepid cousins draw on all resources to protect their patients. (publisher)


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The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

Published:  August 2019 – Berkley

Finished copy courtesy of Berkley

Description: You’re riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, “You are going to die.”
 
Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man.
 
From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, “Which of these people should we save?…And who should we kill first?”  (publisher)

My take:  So, if you skipped reading the description above go back and read it now.

I like testing new products and was an early user of Amazon’s Echo device but if given the chance to be an early adopter of a self-driving car I would take a pass. And this novel is why!

However, I enjoyed The Passengers for the near-futuristic thriller it is. It grabbed me from page one and had me reading (and listening) to the entire novel in one day. Because of that I think it would be a good possibility for a book-to-screen adaptation. I found myself wondering who would play the various characters. The pacing is good and the plot is dotted with twists up until the very end.

The Passengers was out of my normal reading comfort zone and I was glad I took a chance on it. A fun read!