Siena Sterling: Tell Us No Secrets

Set at a girl’s boarding school in 1970, Siena Sterling’s debut novel was immediately attractive to me, as a 1977 graduate of a girl’s boarding school myself.  There is no doubt Ms. Sterling attended boarding school as the details are pretty much spot on. Happily, I had a much better experience than the four girls in the novel, Abby, Zoey, Cassidy and Karen. Boarding school is a time of intense bonding – girls are there from the ages of 14 to 17 or 18 – and as that coincides with the surge of adolescence and self discovery, the friendships formed during that time of your life often prove to be the most indelible. read more

Rachel Kapelke-Dale: The Ballerinas

This is a delicious swoon of a book.  It’s not a mystery though there are some (very) low level crimes involved, but it’s mostly a story about ballet, female friendship, and the efforts women make to be heard and acknowledged in their lives, professional and personal.  The central character is Delphine Legere, and as the book opens, she’s a young student at the Paris Opera Ballet (POB), an elite dance training school.  Delphine and her best friend, the tempestuous Margaux, are challenged by the arrival of the beautiful American student, Lindsay. read more

Lauren Willig: Band of Sisters

This is a slightly different book for Lauren Willig, as it’s more straight up history than romance or mystery.  It’s about a group of women, Smith College alums, graduating right before WWI, who form a relief unit and head to France to help the victims of the war in the French countryside.  They set sail for Paris in the summer of 1917, with ideas of what Paris will be like wildly out of sync with wartime Paris.  One girl is planning to buy her trousseau.

The two central characters are Kate, a scholarship girl at Smith who has been working as a French tutor, and Emmie, a wealthy daughter of a politically active suffragette.  The two had been best friends at Smith – Emmie’s sweet goofiness balanced by Kate’s practicality.  Kate wears a pretty big chip on her shoulder, though, and it often gets in the way of the friendship.  When they arrive in Paris, everything is topsy turvy. read more