Carolina Built, by Kianna Alexander
Based on the life of real estate magnate Josephine N. Leary, Carolina Built tells the story of a woman born into slavery who gained her freedom at the age of 9 and succeeds in building a real estate empire in Edenton, North Carolina. Striving to create a legacy for her two daughters, Josephine teaches herself to be a businesswoman, to manage her finances, and to make smart investments. But with each passing year, it grows more and more difficult to juggle work and family obligations. Alexander brings Leary to life in her page-turning book of historical fiction as Josephine becomes a wife, landowner, business partner and visionary.
Love and Saffron, by Kim Fay
This witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine. When 27-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter — and a gift of saffron — to 59-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a food writer. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine. While she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic. The two women bond through their letters, building a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the unexpected events in their own lives. Told in three parts, this tender and honest book is a reminder that we are never finished growing, changing and loving.
The Christie Affair, by Nina de Gramont
“A long time ago, in another country, I nearly killed a woman . . . ” So begins The Christie Affair, a stunning new novel that reimagines the unexplained 11-day disappearance of Agatha Christie that captivated the world. The story is narrated by Miss Nan O’Dea, a fictional character based on a real person who infiltrated the wealthy, rarified world of author Christie and her husband, Archie — a world of London townhomes, country houses, shooting parties and tennis matches. First, she became part of their world, and then she became Archie’s mistress. What did it have to do with the mysterious 11 days that Agatha Christie went missing? The answer takes you back in time, to Ireland, to a young girl in love, to a time before The Great War, to a star-crossed couple destined to be together until war and their shameful secrets tore them apart.
Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson
In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past — a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California, beginning and ending with her famous black cake. Eleanor Bennett passes away in present-day California, leaving behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean black cake — made from a family recipe — and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking journey that unfolds challenges everything the siblings thought they knew about their family, the secrets their mother held back and the mystery of a long-lost child. OH
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally.