Join historical fiction authors Tasha Alexander, Renee Rosen, Heather Webb, and Lauren Willig along with Back Room hosts Karen Dionne and Hank Phillippi Ryan for an evening of great conversation!
The daughter of two philosophy professors, Tasha Alexander grew up surrounded by books. She was convinced from an early age that she was born in the wrong century and spent much of her childhood under the dining room table pretending it was a covered wagon. Even there, she was never without a book in hand and loved reading and history more than anything.
Tasha studied English Literature and Medieval History at the University of Notre Dame. She played nomad for a long time, living in Indiana, Amsterdam, London, Wyoming, Vermont, Connecticut, and Tennessee before settling down. She lives with her husband, British novelist Andrew Grant, in southeastern Wyoming. She still doesn’t have a covered wagon, but a log house goes a long way toward fulfilling her pioneer fantasies.
Visit her at tashaalexander.com.
Renee Rosen is the bestselling author of historical fiction. Her novels include Park Avenue Summer, Windy City Blues, White Collar Girl, What the Lady Wants and Dollface as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. Her new novel, The Social Graces, a story about Mrs. Astor and Alva Vanderbilt vying for control of New York society during the Gilded Age, will be out April 20, 2021 from Penguin Random House/Berkley).
Renee is a native of Akron, Ohio and a graduate of The American University in Washington DC. She now lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel about the iconic cosmetic queen, Estee Lauder. Visit her website at reneerosen.com.
Heather Webb is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of seven historical novels. In 2015, Rodin’s Lover was a Goodread’s Top Pick, and in 2018, Last Christmas in Paris won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. Meet Me in Monaco, was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Goldsboro RNA award in the UK, as well as the 2019 Digital Book World’s Fiction prize.
To date, Heather’s books have been translated to over a dozen languages. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.
Visit her website at heatherwebbauthor.com.
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty works of historical fiction, including Band of Sisters, The Summer Country, The English Wife, the RITA Award-winning Pink Carnation series, and three novels co-written with Beatriz Williams and Karen White.
Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best, and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction.
An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, two young children, and vast quantities of coffee. Learn more at laurenwillig.com.
Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of the award-winning psychological suspense novel The Marsh King’s Daughter, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in 26 other countries. Her follow up novel, The Wicked Sister (August 2020, G.P. Putnam’s Sons), is also an international bestseller and was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of their Best Books of 2020.
Both The Wicked Sister and The Marsh King’s Daughter were selected by the Library of Michigan as Michigan Notable Books, and The Marsh King’s Daughter took home the Barry and the Crimson Scribe Awards for Best Novel. The Marsh King’s Daughter was also chosen as one of the best books of 2017 by iBooks, Hudson Booksellers, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Irish Independent, The Florida Sun-Sentinel, Library Journal, Shelf Awareness and many other booksellers and reviewers, and is in development as a major motion picture. Visit Karen at www.karen-dionne.com
Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s WHDH-TV. In addition to 37 EMMYs and 14 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as past president of national Sisters in Crime. Her upcoming novel, Her Perfect Life, will be published September 14, 2021. Learn more at www.HankPhillippiRyan.com.
In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves. An agent of the Crown, Colin carries the weight of the Empire, but his focus is drawn to Italy by a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence—burglaries that might have international ramifications. He and Emily travel to Tuscany where, soon after their arrival, a stranger is thrown to his death from the roof onto the marble palazzo floor.
Colin’s trusted colleague and fellow agent, Darius Benton-Stone, arrives to assist Colin, who insists their mission must remain top secret. Finding herself excluded from the investigation, Emily secretly launches her own clandestine inquiry into the murder, aided by her spirited and witty friend, Cécile. They soon discover that the palazzo may contain a hidden treasure dating back to the days of the Medici and the violent reign of the fanatic monk, Savonarola—days that resonate in the troubled early twentieth century, an uneasy time full of intrigue, duplicity, and warring ideologies.
Emily and Cécile race to untangle the cryptic clues leading them through the Renaissance city, but an unimagined danger follows closely behind. And when another violent death puts Emily directly in the path of a killer, there’s much more than treasure at stake…
Purchase The Dark Heart of Florence at an independent bookstore near you.
Purchase The Dark Heart of Florence online at www.bookshop.org.
1876. In the glittering world of Manhattan’s upper crust, women are valued by their pedigree, dowry, and, most importantly, connections. They have few rights and even less independence—what they do have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor.
But times are changing.
Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America’s richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.
Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is the mesmerizing story of two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly, and discovering what’s truly at stake.
Purchase The Social Graces at an independent bookstore near you.
Purchase The Social Graces online at www.bookshop.org.
New York, 1937: When estranged sisters Clara and Madeleine Sommers learn their grandmother is dying, they agree to fulfill her last wish: to travel across Europe—together. They are to deliver three letters, in which Violet will say goodbye to those she hasn’t seen since traveling to Europe forty years earlier; a journey inspired by famed reporter, Nellie Bly.
Clara, ever-dutiful, sees the trip as an inconvenient detour before her wedding to millionaire Charles Hancock, but it’s also a chance to embrace her love of art. Budding journalist Madeleine relishes the opportunity to develop her ambitions to report on the growing threat of Hitler’s Nazi party and Mussolini’s control in Italy.
Constantly at odds with each other as they explore the luxurious Queen Mary, the Orient Express, and the sights of Paris and Venice,, Clara and Madeleine wonder if they can fulfil Violet’s wish, until a shocking truth about their family brings them closer together. But as they reach Vienna to deliver the final letter, old grudges threaten their reconciliation again. As political tensions rise, and Europe feels increasingly volatile, the pair are glad to head home on the Hindenburg, where fate will play its hand in the final stage of their journey.
Purchase Three Words for Goodbye s at an independent bookstore near you.
Purchase Three Words for Goodbye s online at www.bookshop.org.
A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.
Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.
Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit. With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters?
Purchase Band of Sisters at an independent bookstore near you.
Purchase Band of Sisters online at www.bookshop.org.
The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne
From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Marsh King’s Daughter comes a startling novel of psychological suspense as two generations of sisters try to unravel their tangled relationships between nature and nurture, guilt and betrayal, love and evil.
You have been cut off from society for fifteen years, shut away in a mental hospital in self-imposed exile as punishment for the terrible thing you did when you were a child.
But what if nothing about your past is as it seems? And if you didn’t accidentally shoot and kill your mother, then whoever did is still out there. Waiting for you.
Purchase The Wicked Sister at an independent bookstore near you.
Purchase The Wicked Sister online at www.bookshop.org.
We all have our reasons for being who we are―but what if being someone else could get you what you want?
After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know―she isn’t the only one plotting revenge. An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who has to choose her new reality.
Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?
Purchase The First to Lie at an independent bookstore near you.
Purchase The First to Lie online at www.bookshop.org.