These exceptionally well-written novels carry serious literary weight, because these authors know what they're doing. But have no fear: these books are seriously good, but not pretentious, depressing, or boring.
This thrilling novel is a dream come true for fans of The Kitchen House but it stands just fine on its own. Jamie Pyke is a man with a dangerous secret. He's been living far from his plantation home in the relative safety of Philadelphia, but when the son of a dear friend is captured by slave traders and sold down to Virginia, he risks everything to set off in pursuit of him. Grissom's rich characters practically leap off the page. Pair with The Gilded Years for a fascinating combo. Published April 5 2016. More info →
Because Cleave tackles such heavy-hitting subjects, this is the first of his novels I've had the guts to try. I knew I had to read this when my husband (who beat me to it) couldn't stop sharing Cleave's well-turned sentences aloud. There have been so many WWII novels of late; this tale of four young, warm, wise-cracking friends in wartime England is a standout in the genre. Through their characters, Cleave throws issues of wartime morality, race, and class into sharp relief. This is for you if you love a great story and admire a beautifully-rendered, wry turn of phrase. Think of this as the witty but no less devastating companion to All the Light We Cannot See. Publication date May 3 2016. More info →
Part campus novel, part literary treasure hunt. A mysterious development sets an Oxford student on the chase to unraveling the mysteries of the Brontë family, as well as the heroine's own. If you like your heroines quick-witted and cantankerous, and if you're fascinated by the story behind the story, this is for you. Reminiscent of A. S. Byatt's Possession. Required reading for fans of Charlie Lovett's 2014 literary escapade The Bookman's Tale. It also has echoes of A. S. Byatt's Possession. Pair with Jane Steele, of course, and if your book club wants to revisit Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights while you're at it, so much the better. Publication date March 1 2016. More info →
I loved Lawhon's historical fiction debut The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress and was eager to read her next work. Her second novel puts an interesting spin on a tragic historical event: the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. This entertaining, suspenseful tale is told from multiple points of view and is based on the lives of real characters. The enigmatic setting—aboard the luxurious yet claustrophobic airship—captures your imagination. My husband surprised me by loving this. For fans of Agatha Christie and Kate Morton. Publication date February 23, 2016. More info →
Talk about the ultimate road trip: when blues musician Corey Ainsworth stumbles upon a relic that makes her question her parentage, she hits the road in Elvis's car on a winding journey through the deep south and her own tangled family history. It's a little bit Elizabethtown, a little bit Walk the Line. If you (or your mother) have ever been obsessed with the king, this is for you. Recommended reading for Joshilyn Jackson fans. Publication date May 24 2016. More info →