With the atmospheric storytelling of Kate Morton and Lisa Wingate, Karen Kelly weaves a shattering debut about two intertwined families and the secrets that they buried during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA.
A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her deteriorating marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.
Bethlehem is a multigenerational saga that weaves together the lives of two prominent families during the historic steel boom era of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Inspired by the true titans of the industry, Bethlehem is a mystery, a love story, and a tragedy. It is a story of temptation and regret; a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them; a story of forgiveness. It is the tale of two complex women: the dynamic and beautiful Susannah Parrish Collier and her daughter-in-law, the outsider Joanna Rafferty Collier. Thrown together in the name of family, they will unravel mysteries long hidden and complex that have threatened to tear apart a dynasty.
About the Author
Karen Kelly has a BA in English from Vanderbilt University, and lives in Edina, Minnesota. She is the author of Prospice and Bethlehem.
“This propulsive novel from Kelly pulls the reader in with a gripping multigenerational tale of two families led by strong women. [An] evocative, startling story.”—Publishers Weekly
“A satisfying read awaits.”—Booklist
“Bethlehem has stories to tell, and even those stories carefully hidden generations ago eventually resurface. Mystery, first love, and long-held secrets fold together in this atmospheric tale of a family coming to a long overdue reckoning… and finding a way to rise from the aftermath.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
“With delicate and insightful prose, Karen Kelly sweeps us into the psyches of two deeply entwined families as their lives—and secrets—unravel. A haunting debut, Bethlehem will pull you in from start to finish, and leave you grappling with the timeless quandary of when to bury the truth, and when to confront it.” —Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones
“Bethlehem is an extremely deft first novel about the love that is lost and found when family secrets are kept for generations. Karen Kelly is the real deal.” —Mark Sullivan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky
“A stirring tale of the strength women conjure and the secrets they cling to when youthful joys fade and heartache takes hold. Set against the backdrop of the Pennsylvania steel industry in the 1920’s and 1960’s, Bethlehem explores how far mothers will go to protect their families, and how far wives can be pressed before they push back. With passion and insight, Kelly has crafted a deeply moving story of empathy and forgiveness.” —Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of the Goodreads Choice Finalist The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters
“Bethlehem is a slow burn of a novel, starting out with simple tales and quiet details that build to a rich and touching and moving tale. Generations of family secrets come unburied in the course of this novel, in ways that show how large the heart can be, and how healing the truth can be. The prose is vivid, the characters crackle with life, and the story of these two families will capture you. I read the last fifty pages with a continuous lump in my throat.” —Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Baker’s Secret and The Curiosity
"Kelly is adept at showing the hidden parts of people’s lives and revealing how the pain of the past can ripple through the present...she also shows how brave people can bring healing by refusing to hide their true selves and histories."—Chapter16.org
"I could not put down this book, brimming with history, romance, and mystery."—First for Women
"A story of two complex women learning to understand each other and ultimately themselves. Dive into a novel of family dynamics and discover how powerful, lifelong secrets can shape our lives.—Lehigh Valley Style