1. The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve
An intriguing fictional story of a young family woven around the factual 1947 fires that ravaged nine towns in Maine. A young mother must rely on her own wits to save her children from the fire, but she can't save her house or belongings. Grace finds strength she didn't know she possessed, only to be crushed by a husband more devastating than the fire.
2. Effie Mae's Sweet Chariot Ride by Caroline Mims
This book is fiction, but when Effie Mae passes, the story rings true because of the greed family members exhibit over the meager possessions when they assemble to lay her to rest. The pious, the scoundrels, the in-laws and the out-laws all show up, and no one trusts anyone else. No one can imagine why Effie Mae, a woman of limited means, would have hired a lawyer, let alone made a will. This author is a natural storyteller and is also a member of my book club.
3. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Another work of fiction, but truth about the complex lives of people was portrayed in the relationships. A couple of thoughts I came away with from this book: A perfect looking life may only be an illusion, and your sins will find you out. This book has a bit of everything, including crime, betrayal, romance, and family.
4. In Search of Shiloh by Patricia Clark Blake
The Shiloh series is historical fiction and is authored by a member of my writers' group. Knowing Pat, I expected a good book, but I didn't expect to be mesmerized by the story. The saga begins with a marriage of convenience in Northwest Arkansas in the mid 1800's. A father is on his deathbed, and he wants his only daughter, Laurel, to be taken care of when he's gone. The new bride begins her marriage with this stranger, Mac, by traveling with him across the state to land he owns. Their adventures and encounters make for an entertaining read.
5. The Dream of Shiloh by Patricia Clark Blake
The story continues with the arrival of the couple in Northeast Arkansas. Laurel is accepted as the teacher for the community school. The couple works to build a house and a life, however, with no common background, misunderstanding and disagreements arise. Mac is not sure he can keep his promise to Laurel's father. One thing I enjoyed about both Volume I and Volume II of the Shiloh series was the accuracy of the historical research. With a factual base, the story and the characters come alive. The saga continues, and Pat will soon release the third book in this series.