By: Jo Baker
Author Jo Baker is a master of historical fiction that depicts the hardscrabble existence of the lower classes. In The Telling, Rachel is a modern-day woman who arrives at her recently-deceased mother's house to place it on the market. In the following days, the mentally-fragile Rachel begins to hear voices. Over a hundred years previously, Lizzy, a young maidservant, lived with her impoverished family in the same house. Baker's novel is most interesting when she focuses on Lizzy's story. Mr. Moore, a boarder in Lizzy's home, is a laborer who begins a reading room for the locals. This small act is seen as subversive to the clergy and gentry. Mr. Moore's books open a new world to Lizzy. Fans of British historical fiction will enjoy this novel.
By: Tracy Chevalier
James and Sadie Goodenough move with their ten children from Connecticut to Ohio in the 1838. They settle in the Black Swamp, an area rife with mosquitos and malaria, and try to establish a farm. Over the years, five of the children die from malaria, and Sadie has turned to potent homebrewed applejack to escape from her misery. After a tragic accident, the youngest child, Robert, heads west to California and but he cannot escape the demons of his childhood. The audio version of this book is excellent.
By: Colleen Oakley
Daisy, a young graduate student, has been cancer-free for a few years when she gets a devastating call from her doctor. Her cancer has not only returned, but has also spread to other parts of her body. Jack, Daisy's husband, is only months away from completing a degree in veterinary medicine. Although brilliant, Jack is a disorganized slob. With only several months to live, Daisy decides to focus on finding a wife for her disorganized husband. Debut novelist Oakley manages to develop quirky characters who deal with some humorous situations in this surprisingly upbeat novel.
By: Emily Arsenault
This intriguing novel is told from the perspective of two different narratives. Frances Barnett is a patient at the North Hampton Lunatic Asylum in 1885 when she begins to tell her story to her visiting brother. Abby Bernacki, a history teacher on maternity leave in 2014, has been living in the Barnett family home with her husband and infant daughter. Since her daughter's birth, Abby begins to hear unexplained noises in the house which leads her to research its history. When she is given a diary that had belonged to Frances, she wonders at the uncanny similarities in their experiences. Is the house haunted?