10 books like A Useful Woman

By Darcie Wilde,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Useful Woman. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Emma

By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Emma

Of Jane Austen’s six completed novels, only Emma made me interrupt my reading numerous times to thump my head with the heel of my hand and groan “Oh, Emma, no!” Emma Woodhouse is a contradiction: a spoiled, well-intentioned, bright, unobservant, sometimes ridiculous, shockingly thoughtless, and yet often attractive young woman. I can’t say I loved her, but she was terrifically entertaining. For its sharp-eyed, diverting take on people and society and for the vivid and wonderful creation of Emma Woodhouse, a young woman so wrong and still so endearingly right, Emma is my favorite of Austen’s novels. I’ve read it more than once and laughed (and head-thumped) each time through.  

Emma

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Emma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Her masterpiece, mixing the sparkle of her early books with a deep sensibility' Robert McCrum, Observer

Although described by Jane Austen as a character 'whom no one but myself will much like', the irrepressible Emma Woodhouse is one of her most beloved heroines. Clever, rich and beautiful, she sees no need for marriage, but loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen's novel of youthful exuberance and gradual self-knowledge is a brilliant, sparkling comic masterpiece.

Edited with an Introduction by FIONA STAFFORD


And Only to Deceive

By Tasha Alexander,

Book cover of And Only to Deceive

I adore Tasha Alexander’s books for their elegance and suspense but most of all for her fabulous heroine, Lady Emily Ashton. I always recommend beginning with And Only to Deceive. Lady Emily isn’t yet twenty when her Viscount husband dies on an African safari in 1887. Having married him only to escape her mother—one of her many questionable decisions—Emily doesn’t grieve. But when she reads his journals, to her surprise, she falls in love with him—after his death, which is a cool twist. With keen intelligence and amazing resolve, she solves the mystery of what really happened on his fatal trip. When she stands up to her mother, declaring she values her freedom too much to marry again, I cheer her on. Yes, she changes her mind.

And Only to Deceive

By Tasha Alexander,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked And Only to Deceive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author Tasha Alexander comes a stunning novel of historical suspense set in Victorian England, meticulously researched and with a twisty plot that involves stolen antiquities, betrayal, and murder

Lady Emily's first mystery . . .

For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was just an easy way to escape her stifling home life and overbearing mother. So when her new husband dies on safari soon after the wedding, she feels little grief. After all, she barely knew the man.

Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different…


The Anatomist's Wife

By Anna Lee Huber,

Book cover of The Anatomist's Wife

Have you ever picked up a historical romance novel, attracted by the era, then read the book and said to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be great to explore other genres in this setting?” Then you need Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby mystery series. I picked up The Anatomist’s Wife at random from the library and was instantly confused. It seemed like the setting for a romance novel—1830s Scotland—but it’s first and foremost a mystery. Her characters are interesting and complex, the mystery is solid, and her beautiful prose elevates the genre.

The Anatomist's Wife

By Anna Lee Huber,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Anatomist's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE FIRST LADY DARBY MYSTERY

“A riveting debut…an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting…a book you won’t want to put down.”—New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own…


Frederica

By Georgette Heyer,

Book cover of Frederica

Georgette Heyer, often called the “Queen of Regency Romances,” was a skilled writer, who crafted nearly thirty Regencies, and her Frederica is not just my personal Heyer favorite but my personal Regency favorite of all time. Bar none. I’ve read it often. It’s literate, entertaining, funny, and satisfying. Romantic, too, but subtle, with only one very gratifying kiss at the end. Yet the slow simmer as Alverstoke shifts first from self-absorbed libertine to a man involved in Frederica’s life and family and finally to a man deeply and selflessly in love is brilliant. Unexpectedly sexy, too.  Dialogue is always intelligent, lively, and authentic. Situations are true to the time. I especially love that Frederica is no great beauty and Alverstoke not very heroic, yet they still end up as the perfect match. And make Frederica the perfect Regency romance.

Frederica

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frederica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Georgette Heyer's beloved tale of an entertaining heroine stumbling on happiness when her marital machinations for her sister go awry.

Determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, Frederica seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke. Lovely, competent, and refreshingly straightforward, Frederica makes such a strong impression on him that to his own amazement, the Marquis agrees to help launch them all into society.

Normally Lord Alverstoke keeps his distance from his family, which includes two overbearing sisters and innumerable favor-seekers. But with his enterprising—and altogether entertaining—country cousins chasing wishes and…


Death Comes to Pemberley

By P. D. James,

Book cover of Death Comes to Pemberley

What do you get when you combine the great 20th-century mystery writer P. D. James and the great 18th-century social commentator Jane Austen? You get Death Comes to Pemberley, that’s what. Austen’s beloved Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice are happily married living at Pemberley with their children until along comes that dastardly George Wickham (also from P & P) who has the nerve to get murdered, leaving it up to Lizzy to figure out the culprit! A Regency whodunit is the best of both worlds.  

Death Comes to Pemberley

By P. D. James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death Comes to Pemberley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem.
 
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic…


A Brazen Curiosity

By Lynn Messina,

Book cover of A Brazen Curiosity

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the imagined food fight in the beginning of this cozy mystery that shines with social satire, witty tongue-in-cheek dialog, and situational humor. The mystery is entertaining and the characters of Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare and the Duke of Kesgrave are both well developed and amusing.  

A Brazen Curiosity

By Lynn Messina,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Brazen Curiosity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nothing ruins a lovely house party like bloody murder.

At the decrepit old age of six-and-twenty, Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare has virtually no hope of landing a husband. An orphan living off her relatives' charity, her job is to sit with her needlework and to keep her thoughts to herself.

When Bea receives an invitation to an elegant country party, she intends to do just that. Not even the presence of the aggravatingly handsome Duke of Kesgrave could lead this young lady to scandal. True, she might wish to pour her bowl of turtle soup on his aristocratic head - however,…


Silent in the Grave

By Deanna Raybourn,

Book cover of Silent in the Grave

The book begins with the death of Lady Julia’s husband at a dinner party at their house. Both Julia and the doctor believe he suffered a heart attack. Only an enigmatic private inquiry agent, hired by her husband, thinks Edward was murdered. When Julia discovers a threatening note to her husband, she determines to find his killer with the help of the inquiry agent. Over the course of their investigation, Julia changes from a naïve young wife to a mature woman, confident in her abilities. I loved the wonderfully eccentric characters in this book. After Edward’s death, Julia’s sister consoles her, “Don’t fret, dearest. You have always looked striking in black.” 

Silent in the Grave

By Deanna Raybourn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silent in the Grave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Go back to where it all began with the original Lady Julia Grey historical mystery series from New York Times bestselling author of Killers of a Certain Age, Deanna Raybourn.

“Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”

These ominous words are the last threat that Sir Edward Grey receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, he collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept…


Why Kings Confess

By C.S. Harris,

Book cover of Why Kings Confess

Unlike my other book choices, Why Kings Confess has a male protagonist, Sebastian St. Cyr. In my opinion, a very good historical mystery series got even better when Sebastian married Hero Jarvis, the brilliant and outspoken daughter of Sebastian’s mortal enemy, Lord Jarvis, a ruthless advisor to the crown. Hero writes searing investigative articles on societal injustice and, despite being heavily pregnant, participates actively in Sebastian’s work. In this book they investigate the brutal death of a man who was part of a secret delegation sent by Napoleon to determine the possibility of peace with Britain. The author is a historian who manages to seamlessly incorporate a lot of fascinating information about Regency England.

Why Kings Confess

By C.S. Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Kings Confess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The gruesome murder of a young French physician draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his pregnant wife, Hero, into a dangerous, decades-old mystery as a wrenching piece of Sebastian’s past puts him to the ultimate test.

Regency England, January 1813: When a badly injured Frenchwoman is found beside the mutilated body of Dr. Damion Pelletan in one of London’s worst slums, Sebastian finds himself caught in a high-stakes tangle of murder and revenge. Although the woman, Alexi Sauvage, has no memory of the attack, Sebastian knows her all too well from an incident in his past—an act of wartime…


Brit(ish)

By Afua Hirsch,

Book cover of Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

Afua’s father is from a Jewish refugee family, her mother is Ghanian. She grows up in an affluent middle-class suburb of London. As she explores her Black and Ghanian identity she looks at what it means to be British; the political heritage, race, and identity from the inside of a loving mix raced family. It is an important commentary on her experience of being in more than one place at the same time.

Brit(ish)

By Afua Hirsch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brit(ish) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Afua Hirsch - co-presenter of Samuel L. Jackson's major BBC TV series Enslaved - the Sunday Times bestseller that reveals the uncomfortable truth about race and identity in Britain today.

You're British.

Your parents are British.

Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British.

So why do people keep asking where you're from?

We are a nation in denial about our imperial past and the racism that plagues our present. Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch's personal and provocative exploration of how this came to be - and an urgent call for change.

'The book for our divided…


Blind Justice

By Bruce Alexander,

Book cover of Blind Justice

Blind Justice, set in 1768, is the first of Bruce Alexander’s 11 Sir John Fielding mysteries. Its hero is the famous blind magistrate of London’s Bow Street Court; its narrator is thirteen-year-old Jeremy Proctor, whom Fielding’s wisdom has saved from an unjust accusation of theft. The pair investigate the death of Sir Richard Goodhope, who has been discovered shot in his library, locked from the inside. Sir John assumes suicide, but Jeremy’s observation of a detail that the magistrate could not see suggests murder. Proof of murder involves following Goodhope’s history through London’s streets, gambling houses, coffee houses, and great houses—to Drury Lane theater and Newgate—in a compelling portrait of eighteenth-century London.

Blind Justice

By Bruce Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blind Justice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first of a series of novels set in 18th-century London and featuring Sir John Fielding - magistrate, detective, founder of the Bow Street Runners, half-brother of Henry, and confidant of such notables as Johnson and Boswell. Sir John is blind, and uses a young orphan as his "eyes".


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