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Lilli de Jong: A Novel by Janet BentonAbandoned by her lover, rejected by her family, and disowned by her Germantown Quaker community, pregnant Lilli de Jong has nowhere to turn but a Philadelphia institution for unwed mothers. But Lilli's present difficulties are nothing compared to the hardships she'll face once she decides to keep her child instead of surrendering the infant. Although Lilli de Jong is set in the 1880s instead of the Great Depression, its depiction of the plight of unmarried pregnant women sent to charity hospitals may interest readers who enjoyed Barbara J. Taylor's similarly themed All Waiting is Long.
The Lost History of Stars by Dave BolingThe Venter family are Afrikaners, white settlers of Dutch ancestry living in South Africa's Transvaal. In 1900, British soldiers destroy their farm and send them to a concentration camp. Narrated by 13-year-old Lettie Venter, this moving novel describes the family's struggle to survive imprisonment during the Second Anglo-Boer War. For more character-driven fiction that examines this conflict, try Giles Foden's Ladysmith, Wilbur Smith's The Sound of Thunder, or Ingrid Winterbach's To Hell with Cronje.
There Your Heart Lies by Mary GordonRebelling against her privileged upbringing, 19-year-old Marian Taylor (of the Newport and Park Avenue Taylors) marries her dead brother's lover, a Jewish doctor, and accompanies him to Spain, where she witnesses firsthand the brutality of the Spanish Civil War. Shifting between 1936 and the present day, when Marian's granddaughter begins researching her family history, this moving novel may appeal to fans of Victoria Hislop's The Return, in which a British woman discovers her Spanish roots, or María Dueñas' The Time In Between, which depicts Franco's Spain through the eyes of a seamstress.
Isadora: A Novel by Amelia GrayIn 1913, dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan is at the height of her fame when a freak accident claims the lives of her two young children. In the aftermath of the tragedy, a grief-stricken Isadora flees Paris and spends a year traveling Europe, where she slowly comes to terms with her loss. Isadora's viewpoint alternates with those of her sister and her wealthy lover in this emotionally intense and introspective novel, which uses rich sensory detail and lyrical prose to place readers inside the minds of its complex characters.
Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa WingateBorn on a shantyboat in the Mississippi River, 12-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings are taken from their impoverished parents by the Tennessee Children's Home Society and placed in a Memphis orphanage. As Rill recounts her struggle to keep her sisters and brother together, present-day scenes hint at the family's fate. Inspired by a real-life scandal in which children stolen from their families were sold to wealthy childless couples, Before We Were Yours is a good bet for fans of Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train.
World Without End by Ken FollettTwo centuries after the events of The Pillars of the Earth, which saw the construction of an elaborate Gothic cathedral in the English town of Kingsbridge, the world is a different place. Although the Church still plays a central role in European life, war and plague have shaken the foundations of society. Beginning on All Hallow's Day in the year 1327, four children witness an event that will influence their lives, as well as the future of their country. Like its predecessor, World Without End combines a large ensemble cast, multilayered plot, and well-researched historical details to tell a sweeping family saga. Fans of this series will be pleased to know that book 3, A Column of Fire, will be released in September.
Lionheart by Sharon Kay PenmanThe ranks of Eleanor of Aquitaine's sons, introduced in Devil's Brood, have thinned considerably since three of them attempted to overthrow their father, Henry II. Lionheart, the 1st book in a new series, focuses on one of the surviving sons, King Richard I, "Coeur de Lion," as he launches the Third Crusade. But before he can fight the Saracens in the Holy Land, he must first travel to Sicily to rescue his imprisoned sister and then to Cyprus to wed his bride, Berengaria. Meanwhile, back in England, his brother John has his eye on Richard's throne. Love Lionheart? Check out its sequel, A King's Ransom.
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