An entertaining historical romance about courageous people.


In Gautreau’s historical novel, a World War II veteran looks back on the war years and the love that he had for a beautiful woman in the French Resistance.

Even though he’s 92, Henry Budge hasn’t slowed down very much. He still takes his beloved dog, Arlequin, for walks along the Boston waterfront, and he regularly goes to the gym. A great adventure awaits, however, as he’s planning on going to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. When Henry was injured in France during World War II, he was rescued by members of the French Resistance. A beautiful violin player named Élodie captured his heart as he joined her on a mission to guide Jewish children to England. But now, the elderly Henry has a hard time remembering details about her: “I can never tease out memories of her beyond a half-lidded blur, scumbled images, murky as if seen through a film of cracked varnish.” In Boston, Henry comes across a sexual assault in progress, and although he heroically beats the attacker with his cane, he ends up getting shot himself. New recollections from the war flood his mind, but his severe injury puts his travel plans in jeopardy. However, Henry is undeterred, as his memories of Élodie urge him on. Over the course of this novel, Gautreau shows Henry to be an amiable and worthy protagonist for a wartime story—one that’s awash in historical detail but always leans toward romance. Throughout the narrative, the old man’s voice is at once passionate and annoyed by generic platitudes, and Gautreau consistently manages to make the story’s transitions across decades seamless. The author effectively describes the horrors of war and the many French villages with sharp clarity, and the luminous prose succeeds in making the love story at the center of the narrative strong enough to withstand the chaos.

An entertaining historical romance about courageous people.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943075-61-4

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Blank Slate Press

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

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In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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