Three months ago we decided to make a major change in the way we announce our book club selections. For five years we’ve been picking one book per month. And that format worked really well. But our goal has always been to focus on conversation, community, and connection. This is a safe place for book lovers to gather. You may have noticed over the years that we don’t post negative reviews. We don’t trash talk authors or novels. Our goal is something else entirely: to support the things we love. And since She Reads is five years old this month we decided that this was the perfect time to pursue that goal in earnest. So instead of announcing our book club picks month by month we’ve decided to announce them seasonally, beginning today.
“The Books of Fall” are THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN by Lisa Jewell, THE DISTANCE by Helen Giltrow, THE SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain, and THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS by Ariel Lawhon. (And yes, for those who remember, we did feature this book in February, but we’ve decided to add it as the bonus paperback this time around as well)
Why the change? We found ourselves running a bit frantic each month picking the books and getting the details in order. Doing it this way allows us to slow down. To focus. To really have a conversation about each novel. It allows room to build relationships between authors and readers. And that, my friends, is valuable. Because we’re all in this together.
This format also allows us to provide a little something for everyone. This time around we have women’s fiction (THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN), we have a thriller (THE DISTANCE), we have a contemporary suspense (THE SILENT SISTER), and we have historical (THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS). So there’s no reason for anyone to sit out in case our selected book isn’t quite their up of tea. However, if you’re anything like us, you may just love each and every one of them. We certainly hope you do.We chose these novels carefully and couldn’t put them down as we read. And we are excited about spending the next three months discussing these books and getting to know the authors. We truly hope you’ll join us.
To celebrate this new way of doing things, we’ll be giving away five complete sets of our “Books of Fall,” starting with one today. (See entry below for details)
And now, for the fun part, a bit about each of the novels we’ve selected as our featured book club selections this fall:
“Clever, intelligent…wonderful” — Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of ME BEFORE YOU.
Meet the Bird family. They live in a simple brick house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching just beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together each night. Everybody in town gushes over the two girls, who share their mother’s apple cheeks and wide smiles. Of the boys, lively, adventurous Rory can stir up trouble, moving through life more easily than little Rhys, his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet gangly man, but it’s their mother, Lorelei, a beautiful free spirit with long flowing hair and eyes full of wonder, who spins at the center.
Time flies in those early years when the kids are still young. Lorelei knows that more than anyone, doing her part to freeze time by protecting the precious mementos she collects, filling the house with them day by day. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She insists on hanging every single piece of art ever produced by any of the children, to her husband’s chagrin.
Then one Easter weekend, tragedy occurs. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, found new relationships, and, in Meg’s case, created families of their own. Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband, her children, and has been living as a recluse for six years. It seems as though they’d never been The Bird Family at all, as if loyalty were never on the table. But then something happens that calls them home, back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.
Delving deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the gripping story of a family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.
“Fast, hard, and very, very good.” — Lee Child, internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers
A dark, ultra-contemporary, and relentlessly paced debut thriller about a London society woman trying to put her secret criminal past behind her, and the hit man who comes to her with an impossible job she can’t refuse.
Charlotte Alton is an elegant socialite. But behind the locked doors of her sleek, high-security apartment in London’s Docklands, she becomes Karla. Karla’s business is information. Specifically, making it disappear. She’s the unseen figure who, for a commanding price, will cover a criminal’s tracks. A perfectionist, she’s only made one slip in her career—several years ago she revealed her face to a man named Simon Johanssen, an ex-special forces sniper turned killer-for-hire. After a mob hit went horrifically wrong, Johanssen needed to disappear, and Karla helped him. He became a regular client, and then, one day, she stepped out of the shadows for reasons unclear to even herself. Now, after a long absence, Johanssen has resurfaced with a job, and he needs Karla’s help again. The job is to take out an inmate—a woman—inside an experimental prison colony. But there’s no record the target ever existed. That’s not the only problem: the criminal boss from whom Johanssen has been hiding is incarcerated there. That doesn’t stop him. It’s Karla’s job to get him out alive, and to do that she must uncover the truth. Who is this woman? Who wants her dead? Is the job a trap for Johanssen or for her? But every door she opens is a false one, and she’s getting desperate to protect a man—a killer—to whom she’s inexplicably drawn. Written in stylish, sophisticated prose, The Distance is a tense and satisfying debut in which every character, both criminal and law-abiding, wears two faces, and everyone is playing a double game.
“Chamberlain’s powerful story is a page-turner to the very end. A must for all mystery lovers and those who like reading about family struggles”. — Library Journal
In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she’s in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now? As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.
“Inspired by a real-life unsolved mystery, this mesmerizing novel features characters that make a lasting impression.”–People Magazine
“More meticulously choreographed than a chorus line. It all pays off.”– The New York Times Book Review
They say behind every great man, there’s a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge’s wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge’s bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband’s recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city’s most notorious gangster, Owney “The Killer” Madden.
On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge’s involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?
After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge’s favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks—one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale—of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.
With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.