PositiveBooklistThe real history behind the novel is fascinating enough that it has the potential to distract from Thelma’s personal trials and tribulations, but Turnbull, in her debut, skillfully balances the drama with an intimate portrayal of Thelma’s search for love and happiness both within her marriage and beyond it. Fans of Netflix’s The Crown will delight in this well-researched tale of high society scandal involving a little-known woman whose story is begging to be heard.
PositiveBooklistTold by three alternating narrators, Burdick’s carefully researched narrative shines a light on the untold stories of countless real women, and fans of Joanna Goodman’s The Home for Unwanted Girls (2018) will be consumed by the fast-paced plot and well-characterized, sympathetic girls at the novel’s heart.
PositiveBooklistWoods’ writing is assured, the historical settings vivid, and her characters fully realized. Hand this to fans of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (2016) and Octavia Butler’s Kindred, who will appreciate this complex, genre-blending debut.
Laura L. Sullivan
PositiveBooklistSullivan provides enough context to ensure that even readers unfamiliar with Dumas’ classic won’t be too lost, and though these chapters are initially less interesting than the primary story, the two time lines eventually come together in completely satisfying fashion. The clever ending is certain to delight both Dumas fans and newcomers who enjoy historical fiction featuring smart, adventurous, determined women.
PositiveBooklistAlthough Lizzie and Mattie’s narrative arc occasionally meanders, Cate’s chapters are absorbing, and this is a moving, well-researched, character-driven tale sure to be savored by fans of Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours (2017) and Christina Baker Kline’s The Orphan Train (2013).
PositiveBooklistKamali paints an evocative portrait of 1950s Iran and its political upheaval, and she cleverly writes the heartbreak of Roya and Bahman’s romance to mirror the tragic recent history of their country. Simultaneously briskly paced and deeply moving, this will appeal to fans of Khaled Hosseini and should find a wide audience.
RaveBooklist...the depiction of...postpartum depression is a particularly refreshing, albeit heart-wrenching, element of their story. With her trademark skill, the author adeptly draws the threads of...two story lines together, culminating in a surprising, emotionally satisfying conclusion. Williams’ latest...is moving, well-researched, and compulsively readable to the very last page.
PositiveBooklist...readers who appreciate narratives driven by vivid characterization and family secrets will find much to enjoy here. While the pacing is a bit meandering at times, readers’ patience is richly rewarded in this assured debut, which marks Grames as an author to watch.
PositiveBooklistWhile some scenes involving Maud and Judy feel implausible, Maud is a fascinating character, and this is a poignant, absorbing tale of the life and love story that led to the creation of a beloved classic.
PositiveBooklistThe focus is narrow, to the book’s benefit; Miller...is not concerned with the personal lives of Friends’ famous stars, except in cases where real-life events directly affect the show itself (as in the case of Lisa Kudrow’s pregnancy leading to the arc in which Phoebe has twins), and this focus keeps the book slim and readable. In addition to an examination of the show’s development and mind-boggling popularity, this is also an analysis of common critiques of Friends: for its whiteness, homophobia, and fatphobia. Although Miller’s perspective is clearly biased in the show’s favor, she does not ignore its more problematic elements, even if her conclusions are not likely to satisfy Friends’ critics. Hand this to fans of the show and to readers who enjoy pop-culture histories, who will tear through this smart, nostalgic read.
MixedBooklist\"Against the backdrop of 1630s Holland, where women have little power and religion is strictly regulated, Callaghan’s debut shines a light on the friendship between two artists: Judith Leyster, the first woman admitted to the prestigious Haarlem artists’ guild, and Maria de Grebber, a devout Catholic determined to atone for past sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic ... While the pacing is a bit slow, and there is one subplot too many, patient readers will appreciate the many vivid details of seventeenth-century Dutch life. Fans of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring will enjoy this darker, grittier peek into the history of Dutch art and the struggles of women within that world.\
Katherine J Chen
MixedBooklistAlthough the writing is assured in this debut, and the idea of reassessing these familiar characters is promising, in this case, they are so inconsistent with their original iterations as to feel wholly unfamiliar ... the readers who will most enjoy this book are those who are not intimate with the original.