Things Past Telling by Sheila Williams: Things Past Telling chronicles the life of Maryam Grace, a West African girl who is captured by slave traders in the late 18th century. Over the next 100 plus years she lives a life filled with heartache, love, and adventure. (Serious adventure – she’s kidnapped by pirates!)
What I loved about the book was that despite its epic timespan, Things Past Telling is really a very intimate story. Maryam is a strong, resilient woman who faces untold trials over her life. William has created such a wonderfully three-dimensional character that you can’t help but fall in love with Maryam and root for her to find happiness and freedom. The themes of motherhood, family, love and time will tug at your heart strings.
Best part, the book was inspired by a real 112-year-old-woman and stories told by Williams’ ancestors. (The pirate is a real person too.)
Although the book was a NY Times summer read selection, it didn’t get the buzz it deserved. The paperback version just came out end of February. Trust me, if you at all like historical fiction, you’ll like this book.
Sheila Williams’ website: https://sheilajwilliams.com/
Gilded Girl is the story of Eliza Chapman, a British ladies’ maid who discovers she’s the daughter of a wealthy American businessman. In a flash, she’s transported into a world of money and privilege. Just as she’s getting her footing, her world is tipped upside down again by tragedy. Can she pick herself up and rebuild after losing everything?
Kelley brings a fast-paced, accessible style to her first foray into historical fiction. A lot happens in Gilded Girl, and it happens in rapid succession. In many ways, reading it was akin to watching a season of Gilded Age or Downton Abbey. If you’re looking for a snowy weekend read, Gilded Girl is your ticket. (PS: I interviewed Pam for Step into the Story. You can watch the interview below.)
Pamela Kelley’s website: https://pamelakelley.com/
Viv Byrne Levinson, Kelly’s protagonist, is heartbreakingly sympathetic. For much of the book, her life’s path is decided for her. One reckless moment of abandon forces her into a marriage to a Jewish man she barely knows and turns her into a pariah in her devoutly Catholic family. When war comes to London, she’s again forced into a choice involving her daughter, one that has long-reaching consequences.
Kelly is among the best when it comes to writing strong character arcs, especially female character arcs. I loved watching Vivian grow a spine and stand up to the people controlling her life. Vivian’s husband has a story of his own, and he too grows and changes over the course of the book. I began the book disliking him and finished liking him immensely.
I read this book in two days, largely because Kelly’s plot contained two major twists that had me unable to stop reading. Curse her for making me stay up late.
All and all, The Lost English Girl is a wonderfully written, enlightening look at family, motherhood, war and anti-semitism. I enjoyed learning more about Operation Pied Piper as well.
The book is out on Tuesday, March 7th. Grab a copy. You won’t be sorry.
Julia’s website: https://www.juliakellywrites.com/