Count the Nights by Stars

Tyndale House. Mar. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9781496459930. pap. $15.99. CF
The Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville is past its glory days, and Audrey Whitfield is bored at the front desk. (She also takes care of her brother Emmett.) Audrey’s boredom evaporates, however, when reclusive longtime Maxwell House resident Priscilla Nichols is found barely breathing. Audrey and her friend, civil rights lawyer Jason Sumner, discover a scrapbook from the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, which opens a door into the past that someone will do anything to close again. The historical mystery leads to 1897, when Priscilla, the daughter of a wealthy railroad investor, is expected to marry within her ethnicity and social station. Priscilla, however, is more interested in women’s suffrage and a gallant Italian servant named Luca Moretti. After a tragedy involving Luca’s sister, Priscilla finds her purpose by daring to step outside of what’s expected.
VERDICT Shocklee’s (Under the Tulip Tree) novel is like the coffee at the Maxwell House: good to the last drop. Read-alikes include other exposition stories such as Jocelyn Green’s Shadows of the White City and Kim Vogel Sawyer’s A Silken Thread.
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