Cozy Up With a Good Book This Holiday Season

These fascinating new releases, based on true stories, sweep readers back to another era

Delight the readers on your gift list with two inspiring new women’s history novels — seemingly ripped from today’s headlines —  that will leave them feeling a sense of camaraderie with earlier generations of women. Written by award-winning authors and published by Shadow Mountain Publishing, these timely novels feature intriguing storylines about refugees fleeing a foreign invasion of their homeland, and a free-spirited British royal striving to find a place within the royal family’s rigid rules. 

“The Opera Sisters” by Marianne Monson; release date September 6, 2022 

This new historical fiction novel is based on the true story of the Cook sisters, who ran a daring, secret operation to help Jews escape from Nazi Germany in the days before World War 2.   

British sisters Ida and Louise Cook enjoy their quiet, unassuming lives in south London. Ida writes romance novels, and Louise works as a secretary. In the evenings, the sisters indulge in their shared love for opera, saving their money to buy records and attend performances throughout England and Europe, becoming well known by both performers and fellow opera lovers. 

But when Hitler seizes power in 1933, he begins targeting and persecuting German Jews, passing laws that restrict their rights and their lives. The sisters continue their trips to the German opera houses, but soon, Jewish members of the opera community covertly approach the sisters, worried that they will be stripped of their wealth and forced to leave their homes and the country. Danger looms on the horizon, threatening to spill across all of Europe’s borders. 

Together with their beloved opera community, the sisters devise a plan to personally escort Jewish refugees from Germany to England. The success of the plan hinges on Ida and Louise’s ability to smuggle contraband jewelry and furs beneath the watchful eyes of the SS soldiers guarding various checkpoints. But how many trips can they make before someone blows a whistle? Or before the final curtain falls on Germany’s borders? 

“The Opera Sisters” is a riveting and inspiring novel of two unlikely heroines whose courage and compassion gave hope to many Jews desperate to escape Nazi persecution.

“The story of Ida and Louise Cook shows the power of ordinary people to make a difference,” comments Monson, who grew up listening to her grandparents’ first-hand World War II stories. While unintended, the book’s parallels with today’s events are uncanny. “Readers will also relate to the role art played during this time of crisis, and to refugees bridging cultural and national divides, much as modern refugees are doing today.” 

“In the Shadow of a Queen” by Heather B. Moore, release date October 4, 2022  

This is one of the few historical fiction titles about Queen Victoria’s unconventional, progressive daughter, Princess Louise, who struggled to find her place within the rigid rules of the royal family.

The fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, who had nine children including five daughters, Princess Louise was the first royal family member in more than 300 years to marry a commoner. She was also the first member of the royal family to attend public school.  

As a young woman, Princess Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She is also strong-willed and resists following the queen’s rigid rules and strict protocols for a princess.   

After her father’s untimely death, Princess Louise’s life is upended by the inconsolable grief of her mother and the rippling effect that rocks the British Empire. Captive to the queen’s overwhelming mourning, Princess Louise is forbidden to leave her mother’s tight circle of control, attend balls, or have any kind of relationship outside the royal family. She is relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother, the same position each of her sisters held until they were married.  

Already an accomplished painter, Princess Louise risks the queen’s wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Princess Louise involves herself in the day’s political matters without Queen Victoria’s approval, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy and resources to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter.

“In the Shadow of a Queen” is the story of an epic battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown’s reputation unsullied no matter the cost.

“I am inspired by those who came before me who worked hard to follow their dreams and change the world,” says Moore, a royal aficionado whose husband’s family is distantly related to Princess Louise. “Princess Louise broke the norms of her day. She was the first female sculptor in the United Kingdom to have one of her statues, the now-famous sculpture of her mother, erected outside Kensington Palace. It is ironic that while Queen Victoria was the world’s most powerful monarch for a long time, she was very much against women’s rights.” 

Extensively researched, with fascinating authors’ personal notes providing even greater context to these stories, “The Opera Sisters” and “In the Shadow of a Queen” are published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. 

Author Biographies 

Marianne Monson is an award-winning author of 12 books for children and adults, with an emphasis on frontier-era women’s history. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has taught English and creative writing at a number of colleges and universities. She is the founder of the literary nonprofit, The Writer’s Guild, and has traveled to more than 60 countries. She writes from a 100-year-old house in Astoria, Oregon. 

Heather B. Moore is a “USA Today” best-selling and award-winning author of more than seventy publications, including “The Paper Daughters of Chinatown”. She has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as Hawaii, and attended school abroad at the Cairo American College in Egypt and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research.

Shadow Mountain Publishing is a general trade publisher of fiction and non-fiction. We’re the publisher of the “New York Times” best-selling series Fablehaven and the sequel series Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull. We’re also known for our Proper Romance® line of sweet romances. Non-fiction titles include cookbooks from popular bloggers Six Sisters’ Stuff as well as the “New York Times” best-selling history book “7 Tipping Points that Saved the World”. Finally, our best-selling fiction titles include Jason F. Wright’s “Christmas Jars” —now a major motion picture, and the award-winning “The Rent Collector” by Camron Wright.

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