Five Fall Reads: History, Mystery & the Warmth of Love

by Elysian Magazine

This fall, gather your book club on the porch and cozy up to Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan. This funny and charming new novel tells the story of a divorced screenwriter who pens a script about her failed marriage and finds that it might just provide the fresh start she’s looking for. Warm, witty and wise, Nora Goes Off Script tells the truth about all of love’s ups and downs: family love, friendship love, romantic love that comes to a wrenching end — and love that triumphs so beautifully, you’ll still be smiling over it long after you’ve put the book down.


Cradles of the Reich by Jen Coburn tells the story of the top-secret Lebensborn Nazi breeding program that was central to Hitler’s plan to create a “master race” of pure-blooded Aryan babies. Sexual liasons between SS officers and Aryan women were encouraged in “maternity homes,” where the babies were immediately taken from the mothers then adopted by families loyal to Hitler. This well-researched history lesson is delivered through the story of a Nazi breeding home in Bavaria, where three women’s fates are irrevocably intertwined. Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. An Aryan beauty, she’s secretly a member of a resistance group. Hilde, only 18, is a true believer in the cause and is thrilled to carry a Nazi official’s child. And Irma, a 44-year-old nurse, is desperate to build a new life for herself after personal devastation.

My grandson’s fall break is this week, so we’re headed to Rosemary Beach with all my children and their growing families, and I’ve got books packed for everyone to enjoy during our respite. I’m taking Search for Treasure with me to read together as a family. It debuted as a No. 3 New York Times bestseller this summer, and it’s a middle-grades book that I’m seeing every generation enjoy — from emerging readers who like to hear stories at bedtime to teens, parents, and even grandparents. Mary Alice Monroe and Angela May set their adventurous tale on a remote private island and nature sanctuary off the coast of South Carolina. Twelve-year-old Jake Potter is back for the summer, staying with his quirky nature-loving grandma, and this time he’s joined by his dad who is adjusting to life as an amputee. When a storm unearths an old gold coin, Jake launches a treasure hunt with his two best friends, Lovie and Macon. It’s a summer of wild encounters, island invaders, a mysterious treasure hunter, and a journey that leads them all to discover that the treasure they really seek was with them all along.

A perfect read for fall, when Asheville, North Carolina, is in its full glory, is The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey. Four generations of women, a famous family heirloom that bonds them, and a peek inside the glitz — and sometimes faded-glamor — of Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt’s dazzling Biltmore Estate make for a page-turning jewel. Readers will fall in love with the Vanderbilt women and the fictional modern-day grandmother-granddaughter duo, Julia and Babs. This beautiful novel from one of the South’s most lauded voices tells a story that resonates with any family looking to delve deeper into its history — no matter how complicated it might be.


To round up our pitch for fall reads, you will want to begin with a great cup of coffee then devour The Lost Summers of Newport by Karen White, Lauren Willig and Beatriz Williams. Read the last chapters with a glass of wine at the end of the day! In what Publishers Weekly called a “clever and stylish tale of murder and family lies,” The Lost Summers of Newport is a novel of money and secrets set among the famous summer mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, spanning over a century, from the Gilded Age to present day. The story is told in three alternating points of view (1899, 1958, and 2019) by three vastly different women, each with a connection to the wealthy Sprague family and Sprague Hall, and each with her own devastating secret. When a reality show Makeover Mansion begins filming inside the walls of the now crumbling mansion, the house begins to yield up the dark secrets the Spragues thought would stay hidden forever.

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