The Jane Austen we know is delicious enough on her own, but Austen filtered through the mind of Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) could be the best of both possible worlds.
When she married Prince William back in 2011, Kate Middleton didn’t just capture the heart of a future king—she also ensnared the imaginations of women worldwide. Will and Kate’s royal romance has been meticulously documented by the press and even been the subject of a Lifetime movie. Now it serves as the inspiration for the first adult novel by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the duo behind the snarky celebrity-fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself, and authors of two young adult novels (Messy and Spoiled).
Lizzie Vogel has grown up in what she, even at age 9, understands is “a very good situation.” She has a nice home with a nanny and a chauffeur, two siblings and a dog. Then one day, her mother learns that Lizzie’s father has had an affair. The next thing Lizzie knows, her parents have split and she has been shuffled off to live in the country with her mother, brother and sister.
There’s something irresistible about a boarding school novel: the picturesque grounds; the tight-knit community of teachers and students and staff; the routine of seminars, lacrosse games and chapel; the inevitable romances that bud in such an insular world. In The Half Brother, her second novel after 2010’s sensual The Swimming Pool, Holly LeCraw has created an appealing setting in the Abbott School, a campus at the top of a ridge in north Massachusetts where azaleas and cherry blossoms surround the stone and clapboard buildings, and the grass almost shimmers with mist.
For readers who befriended the magical and sometimes maddening Waverly women in novelist Sarah Addison Allen’s debut novel, Garden Spells, the arrival of First Frost is certain to take the chill out of the bleakest winter day.
Nick Hornby is an expert story-teller who reveals the nuances of his characters’ lives, and in the process, allows readers to understand a world unlike their own. His expert lens is most often trained on male characters, although 2001’s How to Be Good is an exception, and the male protagonists in 2009’s Juliet, Naked, share pages with a strong woman who goes beyond love interest.
If you’ve been watching Showtime’s “The Affair,” you may see some similarities in I Regret Everything. Writer and producer (“Big Love”) Seth Greenland’s new novel tells the story of a relationship that some might find inappropriate, from the first-person point of view of both parties. There’s melodrama, and a subplot that involves a crime. But there is also real warmth, wit and irreverence woven throughout this thoroughly readable tale.
Grace Chapman has a seemingly perfect life: She’s a lifestyle icon with a best-selling author husband, a loving daughter and a gorgeous home outside of New York City. A former cookbook editor, she now cooks legendary meals for the local women’s shelter and plans community fundraisers.
We hear plenty of stories about falling in love. What we don’t often get, especially in romantic comedies, is the idea that marriage just might be the beginning of the love story, not its culmination. As The Rosie Effect shows, sometimes it’s possible, and even necessary, to fall in love with your partner over and over again. Sometimes that process can be just as beautiful—and just as romantic.
Reading Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl is a bit like listening to an older relative tell stories at Thanksgiving—and that’s a good thing. Because Addie Baum, the book’s 85-year-old narrator (who is telling her tales to her college-age granddaughter throughout the book), is one entertaining older relative.