Jacqueline Winspear’s The White Lady spans two wars. Despite this epic scope, the book has the feel of an intimate character study. Luckily, the character at the center of the novel, Elinor White, is well worth a look. As a little girl in Belgium with an British mother and a Belgian father, the book opens as the war begins and little Lini’s father is gone. Somehow, even as a 10 year old, Elinor knows she will never see her father again, so she, her mother, and her older sister, Ceci, form a tight unit, a unit that becomes much tighter during the German occupation of their little village. When a strange woman asks them to help out, the two girls become a part of the resistance.
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.
This book is available on April 30, 2019.
The prolific Maureen Jennings begins a new series with Heat Wave, set in 1936 Toronto, which is experiencing a particularly brutal heat wave. The main character is young Charlotte Frayne, a fledgling private eye who works for the usually unflappable Thaddeus Gilmore. When she arrives at work the day the book opens, though, Mr. Gilmore has received a particularly nasty piece of hate mail, and he hurries off.
When he’s away, several things happen. One of them is that owner of the nearby Paradise Café comes by and asks Gilmore and associates to look into some theft going on at his restaurant. The other is a call from Mr. Gilmore, informing Charlotte that his wife has been taken to the hospital, the victim of some type of attack.