First: Susan Wittig Albert.
I discovered Susan's China Bayles series about 20 years ago? I was a few years new to Texas. My kids were old enough that I was getting back to reading books for adults. I liked mysteries. A coworker recommended the China Bayles Series. Then one day I think I was renewing my library card and the librarian helping me was (tada!) the leader of the Mystery Book Club, Kay. She told me about the book club (I was so excited). I don't know if it was that same visit, but I found out Susan was going to be their guest speaker. (How could I be so lucky). A lot happened in that visit to renew my library card. I am only going to show 1 book cover from each series or a stand alone. You will see why.
"Susan has been a fulltime novelist since she left her career as a university English professor and administrator in 1985. A New York Times bestselling author, her books include biographical fiction (A Wilder Rose) and mystery and historical fiction: the bestselling China Bayles mysteries; The Darling Dahlias; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and the Robin Paige Victorian/Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert. Working together, the Alberts have also written over 60 young adult novels.
Susan's earlier nonfiction work includes Work of Her Own, a study of women who left their careers, and Writing From Life: Telling Your Soul's Story, a guidebook for women memoirists. That book led to the founding of the Story Circle Network in 1997. She has edited two anthologies for the Story Circle Network: With Courage and Common Sense (2004) and What Wildness Is This: Women Write about the Southwest (2007).
Susan's most recent nonfiction work includes two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. She serves as a co-editor of StoryCircleBookReviews.
Susan says that she "grew up rural" and is proud to claim farming in her family heritage. She continues to live the rural life with Bill in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes, gardens, and raises a varying assortment of barnyard creatures. She has three children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren."
1.The China Bayles Herbal Mysteries: 26 books (I have read all but the most recent 2)
About the series:"China Bayles is the central character in this series of cozy mystery novels. China is an ex-lawyer who now works as a herbalist based out of Pecan Springs, Texas. There, she prefers to live a quieter existence with close friends and family." Each book features a specific herb. There are lots of references to local places which makes it fun to read, if you are familiar with the area.
2. The Darling Dahlias: I have read 6 of the 7 books. There are recipes in each book. Always fun. I tried a few.
About the series:
"New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert takes readers back to a small Southern town in the 1930s, where the ladies of the Darling Dahlias garden club double as Depression-era amateur sleuths."
3. The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: There are 8 books in this series. I have not read any of these books. I love the covers though.
About: "The series is based on the life of author/illustrator Beatrix Potter. In 1905, she bought a farm in the Lake District of England and it follows her as she moves away from the big city life to a new life in the country. The series is written for readers of all ages."
4. A Wilder Rose: a stand alone. I did read this. I liked it. I of course, read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was a child. Rose was Laura's mother and actually wrote the books.
About: "Laura’s stories were publishable only with Rose’s expert rewriting. Based on Rose’s unpublished diaries and Laura’s letters, A Wilder Rose tells the true story of the decade-long, intensive, and often troubled collaboration that produced the Little House books—the collaboration that Rose and Laura deliberately hid from their agent, editors, reviewers, and readers."
The notes have been woven into this story. Very interesting.
5. Loving Eleanor: I have not read this book.
"When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1932 campaign, the two women become deeply involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship documented by 3300 letters.
Set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War, Loving Eleanor reveals Eleanor Roosevelt as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation's First Lady. Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see, celebrating the depth and durability of women's love."
6. The General's Women: I have not read this book, but it looks interesting to me.
"Set during the chaotic years of World War II, The General's Women tells the story of the conflicted relationship between General Dwight Eisenhower and Kay Summersby, his Irish driver/aide, and the impact of that relationship on Mamie Eisenhower and her life in Washington during the war. Told from three alternating points of view (Kay's, Ike's, and Mamie's), the novel charts the deepening of the relationship as Ike and Kay move from England (1942) to North Africa (1942-43) to England, France, and Germany before and after the Normandy landing (1944-45). At the end of the war, Ike is faced with the heart-wrenching choice between marrying Kay and a political future."
7. Non fiction: Susan has written several non fiction books also as mentioned above:
Work of Her Own, a study of women who left their careers, and Writing From Life: Telling Your Soul's Story, a guidebook for women memoirists. That book led to the founding of the Story Circle Network in 1997. She has edited two anthologies for the Story Circle Network: With Courage and Common Sense (2004) and What Wildness Is This: Women Write about the Southwest (2007).
Susan's most recent nonfiction work includes two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place.
As I recall, when Susan spoke to the Mystery Book Club, she also wrote for the Nancy Drew stories many, many years ago and for magazines when they had weekly serial installments.
I have like all of the books I have read by Susan Wittig Albert. There is a lot to choose from.