Find That Book!: Dual Timeline

Ever feel like you’re craving a certain type of book but have no idea where to look?  Yep, me, too.

So I’m starting a weekly Find That Book series!  Send in your book needs and I’ll open it up to everyone for suggestions, and we’ll see what we can come up with together.

Our first book hunt comes from M. Delfino, who writes:

Hello everyone, I just finished Lost Summers of Newport and I’m in a book dry spell 🙁 help! … What I’m really looking for is a historical novel with a modern heroine… you know, one chapter in the present, one chapter in the past. The modern girl maybe found letter, a journal, etc…is there one like that about the disappearance of Agatha Christie??? I’d love that.

Fortunately, what I think of as women’s fiction/historical fiction hybrids, with one chapter in the past, one in the present, had a huge boom a decade or so ago, so there are lots to choose from.  The ones that leap to mind are:

— Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden or The House at Riverton.   The Forgotten Garden follows present day Cassandra as she tries to untangle a mystery about a Victorian children’s book writer, while The House at Riverton follows a film director uncovering the secrets of the inhabitants of an English stately home through interviews with a one of the former members of staff.


— Christine Wells’s The Traitor’s Girl or The Wife’s TaleThe Traitor’s Girl follows Australian teacher, Annabel, as she goes to the Cotswalds to find her long lost grandmother and is plunged into a tale of intrigue from the 1930s and 40s, while The Wife’s Tale goes back and forth between modern lawyer Liz and 18th century scandal.

— Laura Anderson’s The Darkling Bride zigzags between the present day and a 19th century tragedy in an Irish castle.

— Susanna Kearsley’s weaves between a modern novelist and the early days of the Jacobite movement in 18th century Scotland.

— If you like a touch of the supernatural, Simone St. James’s The Broken Girls follows a modern journalist trying to solve the murder of her sister and another unsolved murder at a sinister girls’ boarding school two generations earlier.

— And then there’s my own That Summer, which goes back and forth between the present day, when an American inherits her great-aunt’s house in London, and a doomed affair between a housewife and a Preraphaelite artist in 1849.

On the Agatha Christie front, there are two recent novels about Mrs. Christie, but neither of them have a modern frame: Marie Benedict’s The Mystery of Mrs. Christie and Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair.

What would you all recommend?  Hit me with your favorite dual timeline/modern-woman-discovers-past stories!


  1. Janet Picano on September 22, 2022 at 10:54 am

    The Huntress by Kate Quinn. The “past” part includes a heroine of WWII that you won’t be able to forget. The “present” is 1950’s Boston where a young aspiring photographer gets involved with post-war Nazi hunters.

  2. Jean Falls on September 22, 2022 at 11:09 am

    Anything by Barbara Erskine or Susanna Kearsley.

  3. Becky on September 22, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    Any Kate Morton. Also The Last Tiara, Surviving Savannah, anything Susan Meissner!

  4. Lissa on September 22, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    Kennedy Ryan’s Reel goes between a current film about a Jazz age singer and the story of the singer herself. Kennedy books are very emotional but amazing. Emily Henry recommended the book on Good Morning America. The audio book won Audie award in romance category

  5. Anita on September 23, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    So many great possibilities, but a couple of recent reads that come to mind are Karen White’s The Last Night in London. I’m still thinking about the ending of this one! And another dual time line historical fiction that I loved reading is The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis. Truly enjoyable history mixed with mystery. And another that I absolutely loved reading is The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight, which includes two timelines, one set in a London bookshop in the 1930’s when author Nancy Mitford worked there; and a present day bookish character named lucy who has a mysterious connection to Nancy Mitford. Great story and perspectives in this one.

  6. Tracy on September 30, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    I highly recommend Juliet by Anne Fortier. It’s one of the best dual time line books in existence!!

  7. Maria Carla Delfino on October 5, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Oh wow, thank you everyone! I have read a bunch of those but not all, so I will get my hands on them right now! Hurray and thanks for the suggestions 😊

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