Book Club 2019

(Book Club books are marked with a Green Star)

November, 2019, When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned over 100 million books and caused fearful citizens to hide or destroy many more. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks for troops to carry in their pockets and their rucksacks in every theater of war.

Comprising 1,200 different titles of every imaginable type, these paperbacks were beloved by the troops and are still fondly remembered today. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy, in hellish trenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific, in field hospitals, and on long bombing flights. They wrote to the authors, many of whom responded to every letter. They helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity. They made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into a national icon. When Books Went to War is an inspiring story for history buffs and book lovers alike.

October, 2019, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

September, 2019, The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Prepare to lose yourself in the enchanting new novel from Kate Morton. 

‘My father called me Birdie; he said I was his little bird. Others knew me as his child, the clockmaker’s daughter. Edward called me his muse, his destiny. I am remembered as a thief, an imposter, a girl who rose above her station, who was not chaste. My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.’ 

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor in rural Oxfordshire. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. 

Over 150 years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. 

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets? 

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through it like a river is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

August, 2019, A Willing Murder by Jude Devereaux

New York Times best-selling romance author Jude Deveraux makes her debut in the world of mystery with a story of old secrets, deadly grudges, and an improbable group of friends who are determined to uncover the truth regardless of the consequences. 

Sara Medlar is a household name in romance, with millions of books sold. But lately, retirement has been boring her, and she’s found herself back in her hometown of Lachlan, Florida, remodeling the grand, old mansion she’d admired as a child. It’s much too big for her alone, but she’d die before letting anyone in town know that. 

Then Sara’s niece Kate is offered a job in Lachlan – a start in what could be a very successful career in real estate. She accepts immediately, but with so little saved up, she’ll have to approach her estranged yet incredibly famous aunt for a place to stay while she gets herself settled. 

But when she arrives at Sara’s home, she finds she’s not the only long-term houseguest. Jackson Wyatt already has his own room, and though it’s impossible to deny his good looks and charm – he’s clearly got her aunt wrapped around his finger – she’s also never met anyone who irritates her quite like Jack does. 

However, when two skeletons are accidentally uncovered in the quiet town, this unlikely trio is suddenly thrust together by a common goal: to solve a mystery everyone else seems eager to keep under wraps. 

United by a sense of justice and the desire to right old wrongs, Sara, Kate, and Jack will have to dig into Lachlan’s murky past to unravel the small town’s dark secrets and work to bring the awful truth to light.

July, 2019, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

In an enthralling new historical novel from national best-selling author Kate Quinn, two women – a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 – are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

It’s 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

It’s 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

June, 2019, Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

Cornelia Brown surprised herself when she was gripped by the sudden, inescapable desire to move to the suburbs with her husband. Her mettle is quickly tested by her impeccably dressed, overly judgmental neighbor Piper Truitt—the embodiment of everything Cornelia feared she’d find in suburbia. With Lake, another recent arrival, Cornelia shares a love of literature and old movies—as she forms an instant bond with this warm yet elusive woman and her perceptive, brilliant young son Dev.

Acclaimed bestselling author Marisa de los Santos’s literary talents shine in the complex interactions she creates between three unforgettable women, deftly entangling her characters in a web of trust, betrayal, love, and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined.

May, 2019, My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

  • Spending a few weeks every year researching the penguin species of Antarctica while enduring the region’s dangers and sharing a romance with her partner, Keller, Deb Gardner receives an emergency summons to come to the aid of a sinking cruise ship whose crew includes Keller.
  • Spending a few weeks every year researching the penguin species of Antarctica while enduring the region’s dangers and sharing a romance with her partner, Deb Gardner receives an emergency summons to rescue the crew of a sinking ship where her partner is on board. A first novel by the award-winning author of Forgetting English.
  • An unforgettable debut with an irresistible love story, My Last Continent is a big-hearted, propulsive novel set against the dramatic Antarctic landscape—“original and entirely authentic love story” (Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project).

    It is only at the end of the world—among the glacial mountains, cleaving icebergs, and frigid waters of Antarctica—where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying the habits of emperor and Adélie penguins, Deb and Keller can escape the frustrations and sorrows of their separate lives and find solace in their work and in each other. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north.

    A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research destination. But this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Then, shortly into the journey, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters of the Southern Ocean. Soon Deb’s role will change from researcher to rescuer; among the crew of that sinking ship, Deb learns, is Keller.

    As Deb and Keller’s troubled histories collide with this catastrophic present, Midge Raymond’s phenomenal novel takes us on a voyage deep into the wonders of the Antarctic and the mysteries of the human heart. My Last Continent is packed with emotional intelligence and high stakes—a harrowing, searching novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth, a land of harsh beauty where even the smallest missteps have tragic consequences—“Half adventure, half elegy, and wholly recommended” (Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves).

April, 2019, I’ll Push You, A Journey of 500 Miles by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck

  • Two best friends, 500 miles, one wheelchair, and the challenge of a lifetime.
    Friendship takes on new meaning in this true story of Justin and Patrick, born less than two days apart in the same hospital. Best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were best man in each other’s weddings. When Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, Patrick was there, helping to feed and care for him in ways he’d never imagined. Determined to live life to the fullest, the friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitations control what was possible for Justin.

    So when Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick whether the two of them could ever do it. Patrick’s immediate response was: “I’ll push you.”

    I’ll Push You is the real-life story of this incredible journey. A travel adventure full of love, humor, and spiritual truth, it exemplifies what every friendship is meant to be and shows what it means to never find yourself alone. You’ll discover how love and faith can push past all limits—and make us the best versions of ourselves.

March, 2019, The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Ninni Holmqvist’s uncanny dystopian novel envisions a society in the not-so-distant future, where women over fifty and men over sixty who are unmarried and childless are sent to a retirement community called the Unit. They’re given lavish apartments set amongst beautiful gardens and state-of-the-art facilities; they’re fed elaborate gourmet meals, surrounded by others just like them. It’s an idyllic place, but there’s a catch: the residents—known as dispensables—must donate their organs, one by one, until the final donation. When Dorrit Weger arrives at the Unit, she resigns herself to this fate, seeking only peace in her final days. But she soon falls in love, and this unexpected, improbable happiness throws the future into doubt.  

Clinical and haunting, The Unit is a modern-day classic and a chilling cautionary tale about the value of human life.

January, 2019, Picking Cotton Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino

February, 2019, The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

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. We come to know the home-front struggles of five unforgettable choir members: a timid widow devastated when her only son goes to fight; the older daughter of a local scion drawn to a mysterious artist; her younger sister pining over an impossible crush; a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia hiding a family secret; and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past. 

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 on the home front in a village of indomitable spirit.

Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept. She was able to escape, and eventually positively identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. Ronald insisted that she was mistaken– but Jennifer’s positive identification was the compelling evidence that put him behind bars.

After eleven years, Ronald was allowed to take a DNA test that proved his innocence. He was released, after serving more than a decade in prison for a crime he never committed. Two years later, Jennifer and Ronald met face to face– and forged an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives.

With Picking Cotton, Jennifer and Ronald tell in their own words the harrowing details of their tragedy, and challenge our ideas of memory and judgment while demonstrating the profound nature of human grace and the healing power of forgiveness.

November, 2018 Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

October, 2018 Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

September, 2018 The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton

“When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life. After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it–no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there. Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected. Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways. When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice–stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans”– Provided by publisher.

2020 Book Club

Book Club Archive

August, 2018 Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See  In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that …