The best books for lovers of French and Italian history with romance and mystery

The Books I Picked & Why

The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern

Book cover of The Night Circus

Why this book?

I so enjoy both mystery and history with a touch of magic thrown in. The Night Circus captured and kept my attention as it drew me back in time to 1886. The scene is set in the Circus of Dreams which customers can only visit at night time. At the heart of the tale is the tangled relationship between two young magicians. Nothing is conventual, everything stimulates the imagination and transports you from reality to a compelling world of color, magic, showmanship. I was so sorry when the journey ended, it left me wanting more.  


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Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War

By Hal Vaughan

Book cover of Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War

Why this book?

I have always adored the Chanel brand and have been intrigued by Coco Chanel’s childhood story and her rise to fame. Then to read the back story of her activities during World War 2 in Paris, I was gutted. The author depicts her as a full-on collaborator. All done in a bid to save her fortune, but at the expense of others. In this explosive narrative the author pieces together Chanel’s hidden years, her relationships with top-ranking Nazis, and her anti-Semitism.  


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The Keeper of Lost Things

By Ruth Hogan

Book cover of The Keeper of Lost Things

Why this book?

I enjoyed the relationship with the two main characters, a man called Anthony who wants to atone for a promise he broke many years before. His time is running out and he must leave all his unfinished work to his assistant, Laura, who runs his house, offers him companionship and above all whom he trusts. This is a real page-turner, as several “actions” trigger a serendipitous string of encounters. I love this story. 


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The Mountbattens: The Lives and Loves of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten

By Andrew Lownie

Book cover of The Mountbattens: The Lives and Loves of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten

Why this book?

My focus often wanes when I am reading a lot of historic facts, but this biography of the British titled Mountbatten couple is a riveting read. Whilst their public lives and public duties brought them accolades and respect, their private lives were totally outrageous, given the time and their close connections to the Queen of England. The book offers a wonderful descriptive prose and informative insight into life around the Royal family. Andrew Lownie is a thorough, brilliant researcher and this book definitely deserves its best-selling status. 


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The Crossing: Blood of the Lamb, Book 1

By Mandy Hager

Book cover of The Crossing: Blood of the Lamb, Book 1

Why this book?

The Crossing is the first book of a trilogy. Many Hager is billed as a young person's author but I just adored this story set in the south pacific on a tiny atoll. The scene is set with a young girl called Maryam who has been raised to believe that she and her blessed sisters are special. Soon they will cross the sea and serve a Lord and his apostles. But Maryam is wracked with doubt. As we read on, we can see she has good reason to be. She is being lined up as a human sacrifice. But she is brave and resourceful, she escapes with 3 companions and takes the reader on a magnificent journey into the void.  


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