—Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Perfect Couple
New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings us the blockbuster novel of the season—an electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power, and redemption set among the inhabitants of an island off the New England coast . . .
In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.
But beneath the island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph’s enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda’s caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.
Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same—determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naïve teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved . . . even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.
1924. Ginger Kelly wakes up in tranquil Cocoa Beach, Florida, having fled south to safety in the company of disgraced Prohibition agent Oliver Anson Marshall and her newly-orphaned young sister, Patsy. But paradise is short-lived. Marshall is reinstated to the agency with suspicious haste and put to work patrolling for rumrunners on the high seas, from which he promptly disappears. Gin hurries north to rescue him, only to be trapped in an agonizing moral quandary by Marshall’s desperate mother.
1998. Ella Dommerich has finally settled into her new life in Greenwich Village, inside the same apartment where a certain redheaded flapper lived long ago...and continues to make her presence known. Having quit her ethically problematic job at an accounting firm, cut ties with her unfaithful ex-husband, and begun an epic love affair with Hector, her musician neighbor, Ella’s eager to piece together the history of the mysterious Gin Kelly, whose only physical trace is a series of rare vintage photograph cards for which she modeled before she disappeared.
Two women, two generations, two urgent quests. But as Ginger and Ella track down their separate quarries with increasing desperation, the mysteries consuming them take on unsettling echoes of each other, and both women will require all their strength and ingenuity to outwit a conspiracy spanning decades.
France, 1914. As war breaks out, Aurelie becomes trapped on the wrong side of the front with her father, Comte Sigismund de Courcelles. When the Germans move into their family’s ancestral estate, using it as their headquarters, Aurelie discovers she knows the German Major’s aide de camp, Maximilian Von Sternburg. She and the dashing young officer first met during Aurelie’s debutante days in Paris. Despite their conflicting loyalties, Aurelie and Max’s friendship soon deepens into love, but betrayal will shatter them both, driving Aurelie back to Paris and the Ritz— the home of her estranged American heiress mother, with unexpected consequences.
France, 1942. Raised by her indomitable, free-spirited American grandmother in the glamorous Hotel Ritz, Marguerite “Daisy” Villon remains in Paris with her daughter and husband, a Nazi collaborator, after France falls to Hitler. At first reluctant to put herself and her family at risk to assist her grandmother’s Resistance efforts, Daisy agrees to act as a courier for a skilled English forger known only as Legrand, who creates identity papers for Resistance members and Jewish refugees. But as Daisy is drawn ever deeper into Legrand’s underground network, committing increasingly audacious acts of resistance for the sake of the country—and the man—she holds dear, she uncovers a devastating secret . . . one that will force her to commit the ultimate betrayal, and to confront at last the shocking circumstances of her own family history.
France, 1964. For Barbara “Babs” Langford, her husband, Kit, was the love of her life. Yet their marriage was haunted by a mysterious woman known only as La Fleur. On Kit’s death, American lawyer Andrew “Drew” Bowdoin appears at her door. Hired to find a Resistance fighter turned traitor known as “La Fleur,” the investigation has led to Kit Langford. Curious to know more about the enigmatic La Fleur, Babs joins Drew in his search, a journey of discovery that that takes them to Paris and the Ritz—and to unexpected places of the heart. . . .
'A gripping read' Woman & Home
'Storytelling at its finest with characters that come alive and a plot that dances with intrigue. An absolutely first-class read that does not disappoint' Prima
Curl up this autumn with Her Last Promise, a page-turning, heartwrenching story of how hope can rise from the ashes of tragedy and of the overcoming power of love. From No. 1 bestselling author of The Letter Kathryn Hughes.
Tara Richards was just a girl when she lost her mother. Years later when Tara receives a letter from a London solicitor its contents shake her to the core. Someone has left her a key to a safe deposit box. In the box lies an object that will change everything Tara thought she knew and lead her on a journey to deepest Spain in search of the answers that have haunted her for forty years.
Violet Skye regrets her decision to travel abroad leaving her young daughter behind. As the sun dips below the mountains, she reminds herself she is doing this for their future. Tonight, 4th June 1978, will be the start of a new life for them. This night will indeed change Violet's destiny, in the most unexpected of ways...
Just some of the five-star reviews from real readers for Her Last Promise...
'Hope rises from despair and new beginnings are forged in the most extraordinary and unexpected way. Kathryn Hughes delves deeply into the heart and soul of her characters, making them totally relatable...like friends you really care for. My addiction to this novel was total and uncompromising *****'
'Wonderful! First book I have read by Kathryn Hughes and will now read her previous stories. I loved it *****'
'Another great story from Kathryn Hughes *****'
'As always, a lovely story by Kathryn Hughes *****'
'I really enjoyed this book, especially the nostalgic 1970's descriptions *****''
Can love survive when all is lost?
England is at war, but nothing can dim land girl Esther Wynford's happiness at marrying the love of her life –fighter pilot Monty Grant. Their short honeymoon results in a baby, but on the birth of her daughter, Joy, Esther's world falls apart.
Esther's dying mother confesses to a dark secret that she has kept to herself for twenty years: Esther is not her natural daughter but the result of an exchange of babies after her own child was stillborn. Esther's real mother was forced to give up her baby to an orphanage by her furious family who were incensed about the unsuitability of their daughter's lover, and Joy's birth makes the reason clear.
Harshly rejected by Monty, and with the man Esther believed was her father breathing fire and damnation, she takes her precious baby and leaves everything and everyone she's ever known, determined to fend for herself and her child. But her fight is just beginning . . .
Phyllis Kimber's entire future is called into question after her father is killed in Earl Redfern's employ. But the earl knows something about Phyllis that means she will always be looked after.
As lady's maid to Martha, Phyllis is the American heiress's only confidant in England: she knows Martha doesn't love the recently widowed Lord Melton, the man Martha's socially ambitious father is determined she marries, but there's another secret - a secret that makes Phyllis give up everything to protect her friend.
Martha begins making preparations to return to America with Phyllis, her father and new husband on the Titanic but the burden of deception eclipses Phyllis's hope for a new future. As she struggles to protect Martha, Phyllis must decide where her loyalties lie, unaware of the undiscovered secrets in her own past and of the tragedy that is about to unfold on that fateful crossing.
As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.
But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.
Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.
The thought-provoking new novel by New York Times bestselling author Sarah Blake
A lifetime of secrets. A history untold.
No. It is a simple word, uttered on a summer porch in 1936. And it will haunt Kitty Milton for the rest of her life. Kitty and her husband, Ogden, are both from families considered the backbone of the country. But this refusal will come to be Kitty’s defining moment, and its consequences will ripple through the Milton family for generations. For while they summer on their island in Maine, anchored as they are to the way things have always been, the winds of change are beginning to stir.
In 1959 New York City, two strangers enter the Miltons’ circle. One captures the attention of Kitty’s daughter, while the other makes each of them question what the family stands for. This new generation insists the times are changing. And in one night, everything does.
So much so that in the present day, the third generation of Miltons doesn’t have enough money to keep the island in Maine. Evie Milton’s mother has just died, and as Evie digs into her mother’s and grandparents’ history, what she finds is a story as unsettling as it is inescapable, the story that threatens the foundation of the Milton family myth.
Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, The Guest Book asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. It shows the untold secrets we inherit and pass on, unknowingly echoing our parents and grandparents. Sarah Blake’s triumphant novel tells the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning.
When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes her SoHo loft for a studio in Greenwich Village. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the basement was home to one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.
In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of the biggest bootleggers in Appalachia.
But Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, and their alliance rattles Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead.
As Ella unravels the strange history of her new building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her exuberant predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her existence in the wicked city.