A captivating account of the lives of extraordinary women in perilous times.

SAXON HEROINES

A NORTHUMBRIAN NOVEL

From the Women of Determination and Courage series , Vol. 3

A historical novel set in 7th-century England follows a new queen and the women of her court as they struggle to survive and prosper.

Princess Ethelberga of Kent marries King Edwin of Northumbria to form a political alliance between Edwin and her brother, Eadbald, the King of Kent. She’s disgusted by Northumbria, which she sees as a coarse backwoods, and by her new husband, an unrefined warrior who’s perpetually in search of new wars. However, she’s intent on securing a future for herself, so she plans to give the king an heir. Also, with the encouragement of Pope Boniface and the helpful machinations of Bishop Paulinus, she aims to convince Edwin to convert to Christianity and abandon his allegiance to Woden and other pagan Gods, to whom he attributes his military fortunes. In addition, Ethelberga decides to teach the women of her kingdom to read, including Princess Hildeburg, Edwin’s young niece. Wagner-Wright, in the third installment of her series, chronicles the trials of Ethelberga and the women surrounding her as they attempt to carve out meaningful lives in a male-dominated world. The author’s command of the historical period is magisterial, and she paints a lively, even terrifying picture of an England riven by tribalistic conflicts, fleeting alliances, and bloodthirsty monarchs. Furthermore, she thoughtfully captures the religious conflicts of the time, and the ways in which they feed into political and territorial ones; as Hildeburg aptly puts it, “When gods dispute, kings die.” Ethelberga, in particular, emerges as a memorable heroine; even after she faces a major tragedy and a siege of Northumbria, leaving her a “displaced queen,” she displays remarkable resilience and shrewd, calculating intelligence. Wagner-Wright has a tendency to freight the reader with an excess of detail—particularly when it comes to the labyrinthine political entanglements that are central to the novel—but this dramatically gripping novel is worth readers’ effort.

A captivating account of the lives of extraordinary women in perilous times.

Pub Date: March 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73-541320-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Wagner Wright Enterprises

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

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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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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