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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  717 ratings  ·  347 reviews
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 cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 9th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  717 ratings  ·  347 reviews

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Mary Beth
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up

I first want to say that I have not been on here for six weeks due to severe migraines and I am behind on all of my reviews. I am finally back. I wasn't able to read at all. I am so happy that they went away.

Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It also is about family life, sacrifice and lots of love in different forms.

I really struggled in the first half of the book. I think that the first ha
It takes some perseverance to get to the heart of the story because there are so many characters to remember, with their formal names and their nicknames. There is also the background information, with a bit of the history of Bethlehem and the steel industry thrown into the mix. But I think it can be misleading to see this as a historical novel since the story could really take place anywhere. It is the relationships between the women, mothers, daughters, and sons, that interested me most.

As I
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Bethlehem is a carefully written, touching and moving family saga that takes a different approach here to those buried family secrets. The story explores temptation, regret, cost of carrying those secrets and how it changes the people who do.

Things start off slow here or better described as quietly as we see the relationships between the characters develop and get a strong sense of how they care for each other. It takes some patience here and comes at risk here with reviewers as we are often rus
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I was offered this widget many months ago from one of my favorite publishers, St. Martin's Press. Otherwise, it wouldn't have caught my eye to procure for a read. Still, I accepted the option to read it, and it languished on my "Want to Read" shelf waiting for its turn (in publishing date order). In the meantime, I'd read lukewarm to failing reviews, already building up a resistance in my mind to reading it. However, as I delved into it with trepidation, the pages gently turned in a quiet fashio ...more
Angela M
At 46%, this will be a dnf for me . Slow moving and not much happening. I expected something different, more of a reflection on the time and place , but it was more a family saga that I would categorize as women’s fiction. If you’re considering this one, you should read the reviews of those who finished it for a fuller perspective. No rating since I didn’t read it all.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity through NetGalley.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Karen Kelly presents a budding novel that arrives on the first chapters with wiggling toes that barely seem to cause a ripple in the tide. I must tell you that I felt its initial stages to be slow going. There were so many, many characters to keep track of with the elbowing in of a time warp from 1960 back to the 1920's. I was ready to set it aside for a bit. But it was then that Karen Kelly deepened her characters with sharp ed
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Bethlehem is a saga about two families during the heydays of Bethlehem Steel. Beginning in 1918 and taking us up,through 1962, the book covers the Colliers, the family of the Chief engineer, and the Parrishes, the family of the president. I will admit to struggling at the beginning with all the various children and trying to keep them straight.

This ranks more as women’s fiction than historical. I expected there to be more about Bethlehem Steel when there is hardly anything. To be honest, the bo
Joanna Collier is the mother of two young children and married to Frank, an engineer working for his family’s business...Bethlehem Steel. After his father’s death, Frank’s responsibilities increased dramatically and felt the pressure to move his family to the headquarters in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. And, he needed to be closer to his aging grandmother and mother, both living alone in their ancestral home. Joanna doesn’t mind the move but reluctantly agrees to live in the mansion. The divide betw ...more
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Thanks to St. Martin's Press for a widget of this book via Netgalley

Happy Pub Day

A family drama, Bethlehem follows Joanna, a young mother of two and wife to a man whose family has made their riches from steel; and her mother in law, Susannah in the 1920's. Similar to other women's fiction, this book explores the bonds between mothers and daughters and the trials and triumphs of marriage. I don't want to say more about the plot because any hint could be too spoilerish.

I felt it did take a
¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪
I want to thank NetGalley for providing an advanced digital copy of this book.

I don't always read historical fiction, but when I do, I usually enjoy it. This was the case for Bethlehem. The story revolves around two generations of women, which unfold in two distinct timelines: in the 1960s we follow Joanna, a lonely wife who is forced to leave her home for her husband's mansion with her two children, and in the 1920s we follow her mother-in-law, Susannah.

The stories of these two women and their
Katie B
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
This was one of those simple but enjoyable comfy type reads. I'm in the middle of moving and it was nice to sit down and relax and read a few chapters here and there. I really loved the last few chapters of the book as everything came together and there were some good, emotional moments.

One of the reasons I chose to read this book is because it featured a big, old house with multiple generations of a wealthy family living it. That's right up my alley because it usually involves long-he
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This was a book that I liked overall, one that I finished quickly and I felt kept me engaged throughout, even though the story itself was relatively predictable and the characters weren’t necessarily memorable. While I did like reading about the Collier and Parrish families and especially enjoyed the camaraderie between the siblings, I did find (as many other readers did) that there were way too many characters to keep track of – which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but in this case,
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I normally don't write reviews, but I loved this book so much, I had to.

It's incredible how the author seamlessly intertwines the characters lives with one another in a way that is rivetingly unique, and has you hooked page by page as you try to understand the mystery of how the characters stories will collide.

You know it's a beautifully written book when, as the reader, you're emotionally attached to the characters by the end of the first chapter....

Highly recommend.
This family saga was a 3/5 star read for me, so I'm going to do things a little differently and list what worked and what didn't:
- Isn't that cover just gorgeous? I absolutely love the cover and honestly chose to read this for the cover before reading the synopsis.
-Kelly is an eloquent writer and paints a vivid picture of the time periods, the 1920s and 1960s since the story is told in dual timelines.
-She really excels at her characterization of Susannah, or "Sassy" as she's called. I felt
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I suspected from the first page, and knew by the second, that I liked Karen Kelly's writing style. At that point, it remained only to know how well she could tell a story. She does so very well indeed.

I do not always enjoy bouncing back and forth from the past to the future when reading stories. But Karen's story lends itself to the process, forming riddles in the future and slowly, carefully, building the story that brings answers from the past to those riddles. It is very well done, not revea
I enjoyed this one, right from the start. I have a thing for interesting cemeteries and their caretakers (my grandfather was one after his retirement and he sometimes took me, age 7 or so, to run around while he did his thing) so the first chapter sucked me in.

The cemetery was only one part of the story, but it's where a mysterious headstone is found and imparts some intrigue. A work of fiction about the Bethlehem Steel company in Bethlehem PA and the families behind it, I am not sure now if th
debbicat *made of stardust*
4 solid stars! This one starts out oh so slow, but it is very satisfying as the story unfolds. I admit to being pleasantly surprised that I liked it so much. There are a lot of characters to place and who fits into whose family, who is in love with who, who are sisters, and who are brothers. I had to take notes to keep up with everyone. The second half was much easier and I really began to enjoy the plot and where it was going; or the guessing of where it was going. The blurb is spot on when it ...more
Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
I had high hopes for this book, but I just didn't love it... I didn't even particularly like it. It was just so predictable. The writing was decent, but I feel like she tossed in big, typically unused words just because she could.

All the characters were thrown at you at the beginning... and not only do some of the characters share the same name, they ALL have nicknames. So the dialogue uses their nicknames and the author uses their given name. It was WAY more confusing than it needed to be. Giv
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
BETHLEHEM is the story of Joanna - a young woman that, together with her husband Frank and children, moves back in the ancestral home because it will be closer to Franks's work. Frank's father has just died, he's has taken on much more responsibility, and he's gone a lot. This bothers Joanna quite a lot. The situation is made worse since she is not only sharing the house with her mother-in-law, but also Frank's grandmother. Not that the women are horrible or wicked, but Joanna does feel like an ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

This story grabbed me a little way in and wouldn’t let go. A family saga covering three generations in one house, Brynmoor manor, Karen Kelly tells a wonderful tale of the Parrish clan and their best friends, the Colliers. Subtle humor is everywhere, so don’t miss it.

Taking place alternating between the 1920s and 1960s, you will find the author’s use of language perfect for each era and the times she writes about. Kelly has a sharp perception of human nature as well, so
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I shop for books I never read the jacket. I will often thumb through the pages and see if there is a paragraph that excites me. I always read a book's first sentence. "It's nice to see some live children around here," is the opening for this book and it's one of those sentences that can only hook me.
Also, the cover of this book is so gorgeous that I wish I had it in poster size so I could frame and hang it in my bedroom. I love it that much.
The title of the book instantly made me think of
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: things-i-love, arc
I want to give this book all the stars and shout about it to the world, but simultaneously want to hide it away so it can stay my pure and perfect discovery that no one can ever say a bad word about. (Don’t worry, Karen Kelly, I’m opting to shout about it.)

Bethlehem had the ultimate chemistry for me. It had the period-piece elegance of Rules of Civility, the thought-provoking and nostalgic charm of Station Eleven and Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, and evoked the same level of emotional re
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At first I was stuck on trying to remember the families and their lineage but decided to move on and I’m glad I did. I couldn’t put it down. The story was compelling and I wanted to keep going. You eventually figure out the characters and how they are all connected without missing any details. It’s a great beach read. I can’t say I enjoy historic novels but I was very intrigued learning about Bethlehem steel and the families. you are drawn in quickly and you can’t help but wanting to find out wh ...more
Cheyanne Rash
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won this book from a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to the author, publisher, and Goodreads!
Patricia Romero
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the 1920's to the 1960's, the Collier and Parrish families have been very close. Living a life of wealth and privilege as major players in the steel industry in Bethlehem, PA.

They do everything together. Their children do everything together. Life looks perfect and every thing they touch is good.  

By the time Frank and Joanna Collier and their two small children come to live on the estate his own father has died leaving his mother and grandmother alone. While Joanna isn't at all on board wi
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story. I initially only wanted to read this book because I am from the Bethlehem area, and was pleasantly surprised by how this book took hold of me. It was beautifully written in a way that allowed me to picture everything that was happening, and grabbed my heartstrings without me even noticing.
Bethlehem is the story of two women in two generations who have so much in common, although they do not know it. I don't want to share too much in order to not spoil anything, as there
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*I received an advanced readers' copy in a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.*

A young woman in the 1920s discovers love for the first time. A wife and mother in the 1960s has trouble finding her place in her new home. These women’s lives intertwine in a story of love, regret, forgiveness and family. Through secrets revealed, these women come to understand themselves and each other.

This slow burn story is everything. Tragedy. Beauty. Love. Family. Relationships. I loved it. I fe
David Bartlund
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a five star book. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't couldn't stop turning the pages of this beautifully written story. The reveals in the second half kept surprising, and the beautiful prose seems to have a power of its own. I'm not one to cry with books or movies, but for me it was a magical experience. I had uncontrollable tears at the end. I was astonished. ...more
Myra Sanderson
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
I have found few authors who have the ability to carry two storylines and not frustrate me. Usually, I am overwhelmingly interested in just one storyline and am disappointed, if not outright bored, when the novel returns to the less interesting storyline. Sometimes, also, the storylines are imbalanced, and so much time is spent on one story that I forget details of the other story.

Ms. Kelly’s Bethlehem has two storylines about the same family that take place 60 years apart. Both stories, however
Jul 14, 2019 marked it as didn-t-finish
I have decided not to finish reading Bethlehem after reading just over one third of the book. I have found that neither the characters or setting have captured my attention sufficiently to make me want to continue with this family’s story. It’s almost too quiet. Another problem for me was the quick jumps between the 1920s and 1962. While I usually have no problem with this type of change in other books, here it seemed to occur in brief spurts that felt awkward. Also, this is not an historical fi ...more
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Karen Kelly lives in Edina, Minnesota.

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