I keep saying it’s no secret that I love Historical Fiction. I’ve written about my love of it here and here. I’ve also written about my love of historical fiction set in America. I love the WWI and WWII eras, and I’ve read many books set in both, but most take place outside the US. Sometimes I need an escape from the European location, but I still want to read historical fiction. Kristina McMorris is an author I discovered a few years back, and she writes historical fiction set in the USA. I first read Sold on a Monday as an ARC and was hooked, and I’ve gone on to read all five of her novels, the novella, and the anthology. I really enjoyed the anthology as the setting takes place at the Grand Central Terminal, which I wrote about in this Fiona Davis post.
Kristina McMorris took a little different path to become a novelist than most writers do. At nine, she became the host of an award-winning kid’s TV show. She followed that as an adult by becoming an actress in independent and major films in Los Angeles. Later, she created a wedding and event planning company and, through that, became the host of a local TV program, Weddings Portland Style. In 2001, she compiled hundreds of her grandmother’s recipes into a self-published cookbook that she sold locally and donated the proceeds to the Food Bank. While gathering information for the cookbook, she discovered her grandparent’s courtship letters which inspired her first historical fiction novel, Letters From Home. She lives in Portland with her husband and kids.
Two of her historical fiction novels have dual timelines, and that is the format that I enjoyed the most. Let’s dive into a brief look at her novels below:
Historical Fiction Novels
Letters From Home - Her first novel, inspired by her grandparent’s courtship letters, tells the story of a young woman, Liz, falling for a man that is leaving for the war, and he only has eyes for her best friend, Betty. To help Betty out, Liz pens her letters to him, and she and Morgan fall in love, but who is it he really loves, Betty or Liz, the letter writer. Even though there are letters involved, it is not an epistolary novel; it is told from the different perspectives of the women. This is a worthy effort for her first book.
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves - A story that follows two young lovers, Maggie & Lane, of different races that fall in love and marry in secret. Then the attack on Pearl Harbor happens and turns everything upside down. Lane is Japanese, and Maggie has to stand by and watch the atrocities that happened to Japanese-American citizens after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Maggie is left trying to find acceptance with her new family. Lane is trying everything to prove his loyalty to America. This is a beautiful novel that sheds insight on that time in America.
The Pieces We Keep - This is the first of her dual timeline novels that tells the story of a young widow trying to start over after her husband’s death. Audra and her son move across the country, but his anxiety and nightmares consume them both. With the help of the boys’ dreams and an Army veteran, Audra learns of a family secret that can heal them if they allow it to. This novel shows the depths of a mother’s love and what she will do to help her child regain his life.
The Edge of Lost - The second dual timeline novel takes place on Alcatraz Island in the 1930s as a prison guard’s daughter goes missing. Two decades earlier, a young boy in Dublin dreams of going to America to find his real father but sadly ends up as a prisoner on Alcatraz. This story of family, tragedy, second chances and redemption is woven together seamlessly for a brilliant look at some of the more unsavory parts of life.
Sold on a Monday: A Novel - Seeing a picture of a sign from the 1940s with a woman trying to sell her four children, McMorris wonders what could have pushed a mother to this desperate place. She writes this novel to explore the desperation parents must have felt in the 1930s at the height of the depression. Ellis, a photographer for a newspaper, and Lillian, a secretary at the same newspaper, use a photo he took of a mother trying in desperation to sell her children to write an article that exposes the cruelties of the depression. This leads to their own shame and their desire to make up for what they’ve done. Heartbreaking at times with glimpses of what people went through during the depression, this story is one that stayed with me for a long time.
Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion - I enjoy anthologies, and I adored this one. Grand Central tells ten stories set in the Terminal in the same 24 hour period as servicemen come home from the war. The stories tell of the hopes, dreams, and resilience of the servicemen and those waiting for them to come home. While they can be read in any order, it’s best to read them in the order they are presented in the book, as some characters do cross paths with others. The authors all write similar books in their own careers, making these stories feel like the same person wrote them. I really enjoyed this format, and I especially enjoyed all the stories happening in just 24 hours.
The Christmas Collector - At only 127 pages, this romance novella is about an estate liquidator that runs headlong into her client's grandson. He thinks that she is just a vulture going through his grandfather’s treasures, and even though sparks fly, he treats her as such. In going through the treasures, she learns their history and learns more about him in the process. Nostalgia and the stories bring these two together but is it enough?
Friends & Fiction weekly video with Kristina McMorris
Early author interview about the first novel, Letters From Home
Just One More Chapter podcast interview with Kristina McMorris, click on season 1 and scroll down
You can find more about Kristina McMorris on her website
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Kristina McMorris and her historical fiction novels. If you like historical fiction, you can start with any of these books. My library has all of these; hopefully, yours will too. If I had to name a favorite, I’d have to say it is Sold on a Monday. However, I enjoyed all of these books, and I am looking forward to her next one, whenever that is.
Have you read any of her books? Which ones did you read and did you enjoy them? If you know of other authors that write HF primarily set in the US, I’d love to know who they are so I can add their books to my TBR. Happy reading!