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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Maxwell

My Latest Book Recommendtions: Sept 2023

Updated: Sep 23, 2023


The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman


I remember Geraldo Rivera's expose of the Willowbrook School, and how horrified I was to learn about it. I can still vaguely picture the footage shown on TV, even though I was very young and this was something so shocking and so far beyond my own experiences in life that I could barely fathom it as real. Although this story is fiction, it's based on the conditions of a real place and real people, mostly children, who were incarcerated there, and it has all the makings of a true horror story. Main character Sage's harrowing experiences and her search for her sister are chilling and heartbreaking, and the story was written in such a suspenseful style that at times I wasn't sure if Sage was actually sane--just as she sometimes doubted herself. Riveting, frightening, often infuriating, the story shines a light on a shameful time in our society's history.




The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis


First off, I'm a huge fan of Fiona Davis. She's one of my favorite historical fiction authors. Her portrayals of New York City put you right there, in the middle of the avenues, skyscrapers, the diverse crowds, and the excitement. New York City of the 1950s was bustling with post-war ambitions and creativity, yet tainted by the sinister underbelly of the McCarthy era. Artists, writers, musicians and actors were particularly targeted with being traitors to their country, for attempting to undermine the American way of life, and no one was immune, no matter their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. While I knew generally about that time, the book brings home the injustice, tragedy, and fear that permeated life, and artistic life in particular, in those days. That aside, this is also the story of friendship, betrayal, loss, and perseverance.





Death at Greenway by Lori Rader Day


This book had me at "Agatha Christie." Although the queen of cozy mystery is not a major character, her home in Devon is, and makes the perfect backdrop for a perplexing murder amid the rising hostilities and dangers of WWII. Bridey has come to Greenway to care for children evacuated from London, and to atone for a terrible mistake she made while nursing the wounded at a London hospital. Meanwhile, Gigi, her co-caretaker, seems not to have a clue how to see to the needs of young children and makes constant excuses to shirk her responsibilities. The two, both harboring secrets, not to mention resentments toward each other, must find a way to work together to keep the dangers at bay while attempting to guess whom they can dare to trust. A thoroughly engaging historical mystery!






Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie


Speaking of Agatha Christie . . . It drives me crazy that the mini-series image is now the primary cover for this book. I actually saw the series first, and then read the book (because no, I haven't read everything Christie wrote, although I'm working on it), pretty much guessing what the difference would be. I was right. The series added a lot of sensationalist drama that the original didn't have and didn't need. The Argyle family, as Christie wrote them, had enough disfunction, secrets, questions, and mutual antagonism to keep the story twisting and turning and the reader on their toes until the end. It's classic Christie, and it didn't need to be embellished. Although having said that, it wasn't a terrible series. It was entertaining and had a good cast. But it was not as good as the book. Are we surprised?





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Alyssa Maxwell
 

  Author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries

and

A Lady and Lady's Maid Mysteries

Alyssa Maxwell, Author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries
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