Try as we might, we unfortunately can’t wish Downton Abbey back on air. We can, however, plunge into the world of glamour, intrigue, and high-society drama we loved from the show. These exciting books like Downton Abbey are a lush mix of new and upcoming releases set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Publishers’ descriptions included below.
Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson
Frank Malloy’s latest client is the well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie, so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie, but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.
When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off — only to be found dead a short time later. Suspicious, Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman, Estelle Longacre, also recently deceased. Frank can’t be sure if Estelle’s risky behavior and the company she kept was to blame, or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.
Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the wealthy Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate a perilous underground web of treachery to find the truth.
Release date: Out now
Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker
“Reader, she married me.”
For 170 years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece. But his own story has never been told.
Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker’s rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.
But much as he longs to be accepted-and to return to the home where he was born-his father has made clear that Thornfield is reserved for his older brother, Rowland, and that Edward’s inheritance lies instead on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica. That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and not long after his arrival, Edward finds himself entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town’s ravishing heiress, Antoinetta Bertha Mason.
Eventually, after a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain, young governess who will teach him how to love again.
It is impossible not to watch enthralled as this tender-hearted child grows into the tormented hero Bronte immortalized-and as Jane surprises them both by stealing his heart. Mr. Rochester is a great, sweeping, classic coming-of-age story, and a stirring tale of adventure, romance, and deceit.
Release date: Out now
Fortune’s Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr
Faith Simpson is born at the dawn of the 20th century into a dynasty that gives her everything she will ever need — except her parents’ love and attention. Often misunderstood, she trusts few as she grows up on the family’s manicured Long Island estate. Just twenty-nine miles away, on lower Manhattan’s dirty, crowded streets, Hope Lee’s world is one of poverty and desperation. The scrappy child of hard-working Irish and Chinese immigrants has learned to fend for herself, until a terrible disaster thrusts her into a strange, new world of privilege.
When she meets Faith, Hope has faced enough loss to last a lifetime, and, like Faith, she has built an emotional wall to survive. Compelled by the tragic bonds of very different childhoods, they soon forge a strong alliance. But when Faith’s father chooses Hope as his protégé, and, worse yet, both Faith and Hope fall in love with the same man, resentment and betrayal threaten their bond. Caught in the tumult of World War I, Wall Street, union fights, and changing women’s roles, these two extraordinary women find that true fortune can’t be bought or sold.
Release date: Out now
Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh
From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh — and just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Oscar award-winning film, Bonnie and Clyde — Becoming Bonnie is the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!
The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family’s poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her, and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas’s newest speakeasy, Doc’s.
Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school, and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, he embraces it–perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling — she tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. But her life — like her country — is headed for a crash.
Bonnie Parker is about to meet Clyde Barrow.
Release date: Out now
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women — a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 — are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth… no matter where it leads.
Release date: Out now
Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams
The New York Times bestselling author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel — an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.
Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets — secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.
Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.
Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well.
Release date: June 27
The Necklace by Claire McMillan
Two generations of Quincy women — a bewitching Jazz Age beauty and a young lawyer — bound by a spectacular and mysterious Indian necklace.
Always the black sheep of the tight-knit Quincy clan, Nell is cautious when she’s summoned to the elegantly shabby family manor after her great aunt Loulou’s death. A cold reception from the family grows chillier when they learn Loulou has left Nell a fantastically valuable heirloom: a stunningly ornate necklace from India. More than just a piece of jewelry, the necklace links Nell to a long-buried family secret. As predatory relatives begin circling and art experts begin questioning the necklace’s provenance, Nell turns to the only person she thinks she can trust — the attractive and ambitious estate lawyer who definitely is not part of the old money crowd.
Ambrose Quincy brought the necklace home from India in the 1920s as a dramatic gift for May, the woman he intended to marry. Upon his return he discovers May has married his brother Ethan, the “good” Quincy, devoted to their father. As a gesture of friendship, Ambrose gives May the necklace anyway — reigniting their passion and beginning a tense love triangle.
From a robber baron’s Midwestern manor to a maharaja’s palace, from a 1920s gymkhana to a modern-day speakeasy, from a family who feels like the enemy to a stranger who feels like kin, The Necklace is the intelligent, intoxicating story of long-simmering family resentments and a young woman who inherits a secret much more valuable than a legendary necklace.
Release date: July 4
Murder at Chateau sur Mer by Alyssa Maxwell
In the late 19th century, Newport, Rhode Island, is home to some of America’s wealthiest citizens. It’s also the beat of society reporter Emma Cross, a less well-heeled cousin to the illustrious Vanderbilts, who occasionally moonlights in solving murders…
Covering a polo match for the Observer, Emma’s job is to take note of the real players off the field — Newport’s well-bred elite. But the fashionable façade is breached when a woman in gaudy clothing creates a scene demanding to speak to the wife of Senator George Wetmore — until she is escorted off the grounds by the police.
The next morning, police detective Jesse Whyte asks Emma to meet him at the Wetmores’ Bellevue Avenue home, Chateau sur Mer, where the senator’s wife, Edith, has mysteriously asked to see her. Upon entering the mansion, Emma is confronted with a crime scene — the intruder from the polo match lies dead at the foot of a grand staircase.
To avoid scandal, Edith Wetmore implores Emma to use her reporter skills and her discretion to investigate. When Emma learns the victim was a prostitute — and pregnant — she wonders if the senator was being blackmailed. As Emma peels back layers of deception and family secrets, she may have met her match in a desperate killer who will trample anyone who gets in the way…
Release date: July 25
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.
1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.
One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?
Release date: August 1
The Address by Fiona Davis
After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility — no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else… and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.
In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda — Camden’s biological great-granddaughter — will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in… and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.
One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages — for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City — and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich — and often tragic — as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden — and the woman who killed him — on its head.
With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives — and lies — of the beating hearts within.
Release date: August 1
Which of these books are on your reading list? Tell us in the comments!