I always think one of the signs of a great book is when you are thinking about the characters even when you aren't reading the book. I would have read this book in one setting, if given the chance. I found myself waking up at night wondering what was going to happen to all the interesting characters in The Kitchen House. The story is told from alternating viewpoints of Lavinia, a 6 or 7 year old white indentured servant who is brought to Tall Oaks from Ireland and Belle, who runs the kitchen house for Tall Oaks. Lavinia is given to Belle to assist in the kitchen house and Lavinia quickly is taken in by the other house servants Mama Mae, Papa George, Dory, Ben and six year old twins Fanny and Beattie. The characters in this book are richly developed and their voices are very authentic. While the storyline isn't always pleasant to read, it brings continued awareness to the plight of slaves and all that they endured. I would recommend this book for anyone that enjoys historical fiction.
I have been a Lisa Gardner fan for many years and Love You More was yet another page turning mystery that kept me reading late into the night. Love You More introduces Tessa Leoni, a state trooper who appears to have murdered her husband and her six year old daughter Sophie is missing as well. D.D. Warren and Bobby Dodge are on the case. D.D. has just recently learned she is pregnant. She isn't sure how she feels about being a mother and it certainly seems out of character for her. With a six year old missing and possibly murdered, D.D. is determined to save her or at least have the case resolved as quickly as possible. Bobby and D.D. quickly realize that things with State Trooper Tessa Leoni aren't what they seem. This is fast paced mystery with many twists and turns. One good thing about the D.D. Warren series is that you wouldn't necessarily have to start with the first book in the series as they are each stand alone novels, in my opinion. I would recommend Lisa Gardner novels to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.
"Dollbaby" begins in 1964 introducing us to Liberty "Ibby" Bell, who has just tragically lost her father and is being left by her mother in New Orleans, a city Ibby has never visited before, to stay with a grandmother Ibby has never met before. Fannie is certainly not the typical grandmotherly type and has several skeletons in her closet. Ibby becomes close with Queenie and her daughter Dollbaby, who have run Fannie's household for many years. The story follows Ibby, Fannie, Queenie and Dollbaby through the Civil Rights movement as well as protests over the Vietnam War and the other highs and lows of everyday life.
The author does an excellent job of capturing the culture and ambiance of New Orleans. We visited New Orleans over the summer and "Dollbaby" brought back wonderful memories of the unique city. I appreciated the map noting various locations in New Orleans which are discussed in the novel.
Dollbaby is Laura Lane McNeal's first novel and I definitely look forward to her next novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to book clubs. If you enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett or Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall or Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, put this book on your "to-read" list.