Before We Were Yours + The Hellfire Club: New paperbacks with New England connections

Among the books with a New England connection out in paperback this week that I’m particularly excited about are one I’ve read and loved, and one that’s getting closer to the top of my #TBR list: Lisa Wingate’s wonderful Before We Were Yours, which I gave five stars on Goodreads, and Jake Tapper’s The Hellfire Club.

Went to college in New Hampshire

I’ll admit that if not written by Tapper—one of my favorite CNN reporters—The Hellfire Club would probably not be a book I’d be excited about right now. A news and political junkie, I find my brain going into overload these days when it comes to Washington lies, scandals and wrongdoings. Whereas I used to binge watch CNN for hours a day, I now take it smaller bites. So the idea of plunging into a lies-full, White House-related political thriller set in Washington, DC—the center of my current daily angst—does not necessarily appeal.That said, I love Jake Tapper and the thoughtful, straight-forward reporting and commentary he brings to CNN and his weekday and Sunday morning shows. A huge historical fiction fan, my interest is also piqued to see how he brings 1950s DC to life as he tells the story of Charlie Marder—an unlikely Congressman who discovers a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of governance. So I’m giving it a go.

Tapper’s New England connection? He earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth in New Hampshire, graduating with a BA in history in 1991.

Like The Hellfire Club, Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours is historical fiction. Alternating between 1930s Tennessee and present-day South Carolina, it flips between the story of five siblings taken from the shanty boat their family lives on and put into an orphanage, and the journey of a Congressman’s daughter to discover her family’s history while nursing her father back to health. (There’s also some political grooming involved.)

Went to elementary school in Massachusetts

I read Before We Were Yours in hardcover. And now that it’s out in paperback, I just might read it again. You should too. Based on a real-life orphanage director who stole poor children and then placed them for adoption with wealthy clients, it’s engaging and compelling from page 1. I’d actually rate Before We Were Yours as one of the most-memorable novels I’ve read in the past few years.

Wingate, who now lives in Texas, spent several years growing up in Massachusetts. She credits her first-grade teacher Mrs. Krackhardt at Peasley School in Northboro with giving her the confidence she needed to eventually pursue a writing career. Said Wingate: “Mrs. Krackhardt wrote on my report card that she expected to see my name in the pages of a magazine one day, and I suddenly felt incredibly special. She started reading my stories to the class, and I was hooked. I quickly discovered the joy of having an audience, and set out on many, many writing projects.”

Mrs. Krackhardt deserves our thanks!

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