Lisa Wingate is an award-winning and bestselling American author known for her inspirational historical and contemporary fiction novels. Some of her most popular books include Before We Were Yours, The Book of Lost Friends, and the Tending Roses series.
If you’re looking to get into Wingate’s books, you may be wondering where to start and which of her titles are must-reads. That’s where this guide comes in! Below I’ll walk through the ultimate Lisa Wingate reading list, provide an overview of her different series, and answer frequently asked questions to help you pick the perfect Lisa Wingate books to add to your shelf.
The Book of Lost Friends
Looking for an emotionally compelling historical fiction novel? The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate is a must-read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page.
Wingate masterfully weaves together two storylines that take place decades apart but are connected through the power of family and friendship. In 1875 Louisiana, we follow the journey of Hannie, an ex-slave searching for her long lost mother and siblings. In 1987 Louisiana, young teacher Benny strives to motivate her underprivileged students by having them investigate their town’s history, leading to profound revelations for all.
You’ll be instantly drawn into this captivating dual narrative that highlights an important but little-known piece of history – the Lost Friends classifieds that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War as formerly enslaved people desperately tried to reconnect with loved ones who had been sold away.
Prepare to go on an unforgettable, emotional ride as the two timelines eventually converge in a beautifully crafted, satisfying way. Wingate’s exquisite prose and vivid descriptions will make you feel like you’re right there with the characters. You’ll root for them, ache for them, and rejoice with them.
The themes of enduring friendship and the power of community resonate deeply throughout this haunting yet ultimately uplifting novel. The Book of Lost Friends highlights the human connections that unite us across different backgrounds and time periods. You’ll close the book with a greater appreciation for those that shaped our pasts.
The Prayer Box
The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate is a poignant story that will gently grab your heart from the very first chapter. It’s a tale of love, tragedy, faith, and new beginnings.
When young single mom Tandi takes refuge in a small North Carolina seaside town, she has no idea how much the discovery of a deceased tenant’s lifetime of prayer letters will transform her life. As the elderly Iola’s powerful words help heal Tandi’s wounded soul, you’ll be mesmerized by the peeks they provide into Iola’s own extraordinary life story.
Wingate’s exquisite prose shines as she describes the calming beauty of the sea and quaint coastal community. You’ll find yourself longing to stroll along the docks and have heart to hearts with the charming locals yourself.
The themes of faith, hope, and resilience will inspire you as Tandi learns to let go of past hurts. At its core, The Prayer Box is about the connections between people, generations, and faiths that give our lives meaning.
Wingate skilfully weaves lines from old hymns and scripture into pivotal scenes. Biblical references and metaphors, including those relating to Esther and the Prodigal Son, add poignant symbolism. The story will appeal to readers of faith while remaining accessible to all.
Pick up this gem of a novel when you need a thought-provoking but comforting read that speaks to the heart. Let the healing words of Iola’s prayer letters lift your spirit.
Before We Were Yours
A heart wrenching yet ultimately uplifting tale, Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours is a gripping work of historical fiction that will stay with you forever.
Alternating between the dramatic story of the Foss children growing up on a Mississippi shantyboat in the 1930s and modern day Avery Stafford’s surprising family history discoveries, this beautifully crafted novel highlights a real-life scandal involving the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.
Director Georgia Tann orchestrated the kidnapping and illegal adoptions of thousands of poor children, tearing families apart simply to profit wealthy would-be parents. The agonizing consequences still echo generations later. Wingate humanizes this appalling piece of America’s past through the unforgettable Foss siblings while seamlessly tying their plight to Avery’s present discoveries.
The lush Southern settings, from the languid river to the grand Stafford estate, come alive through Wingate’s exquisite prose. The characters’ unique voices and emotional journeys will captivate you. Scenes depicting the Foss children’s close bonds and innocence despite poverty tug at the heart strings.
While this poignant tale addresses weighty themes like privilege and grief, Wingate leaves us with hope, redemption, and the enduring power of family. The importance of uncovering the past to understand the present resonates deeply.
Powerfully written and incredibly impactful, Before We Were Yours sheds light on the families torn apart by Tann’s horrific practices and Georgia’s failure to protect innocent children. Their stories – and their hope – will stay with you long after the book ends.
A Thousand Voices
In the moving novel A Thousand Voices, bestselling author Lisa Wingate concludes her compelling Tending Roses series while taking readers on 19-year-old Dell’s journey to uncover her Native American roots.
Having been adopted as an infant by a loving family, Dell is now yearning to find her birth father and connect with her Choctaw heritage. Her quest takes her from her home in Texas to relatives and new friends living deep in the wooded Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma.
Wingate vividly brings the quaint village of Tuskahoma and its surrounding natural beauty to life as Dell immerses herself in Choctaw history and culture while searching for answers. The wise residents, rich traditions, and strong sense of belonging Dell experiences will warm your heart.
Touching scenes capture the initial awkwardness Dell feels as an outsider longing to fit in, followed by the joy of forging meaningful relationships and finding her people. Many characters add charming warmth, but the irrepressible 93-year-old matriarch “Granny” T. will steal your heart as she dispenses wit and wisdom while taking Dell under her wing.
Dell’s emotional journey as she explores her identity will resonate with adopted readers or those with unknown parentage. Wingate sensitively portrays Dell’s complicated feelings about both her adoptive and birth families.
Ultimately A Thousand Voices is about finding one’s place in the world. Let Wingate take you on Dell’s journey as she discovers that home is where love is, bloodlines aside. You’ll find yourself reflecting on the power of community in shaping our lives and identities.
The Sea Keeper’s Daughters
In The Sea Keeper’s Daughters, master storyteller Lisa Wingate returns to the captivating Carolina coast of her bestselling novels The Prayer Box and The Story Keeper.
At age 70, legendary local eccentric Whitney Monroe has decided it’s finally time to clean out her decaying family manor turned storage warehouse on the Outer Banks island of Roanoke.
Whitney’s estranged daughter Linnette is reeling from a divorce when she returns to the Carolina coast of her childhood determined to start over. She gets far more than she bargained for when Whitney tasks her with salvaging contents from the crumbling family home on the remote island.
As long buried secrets rise to the surface, Linnette and Whitney wrestle with the mysterious fates of Whitney’s two sisters when they vanished from Roanoke Island in the 1940s.
Meanwhile, restaurant owner Wendell Quinn is desperate to unlock the manor’s secrets before his island history is lost forever. He enlists a charming boat captain with a personal connection to the property to help investigate.
With her signature “intricate plotting and lyrical language” (Library Journal), Wingate gradually unfurls several engaging mysteries against the backdrop of the storied North Carolina coastline. A rich sense of place and complex familial drama come to life through the author’s vivid descriptions of windswept beaches, salt marshes, and crumbling Southern mansions.
If you enjoy sweeping family sagas, strong women characters, buried secrets, and touching second chance romance, dive into The Sea Keeper’s Daughters. The intriguing twists will keep you guessing as Wingate explores themes of trust, reconciliation, and discovering truth.
Seeking solace and purpose, you’ll find yourself drawn into the heartwarming tale of Tending Roses. As Kate takes on the task of convincing her grandmother, Rose, to move into a nursing home, she uncovers her family’s poignant history. Rose’s journal transports you back through generations, weaving stories celebrating kinship and redemption. You’ll laugh and cry with the characters, gaining perspective on what truly matters. Tending Roses tenderly explores complex family bonds, reminding us that love and forgiveness can overcome painful secrets. Let this book open your eyes to little daily miracles. Rediscover precious moments with loved ones in Lisa Wingate’s lyrical prose. Tending Roses will replant your roots in wisdom and hope. This inspiring novel makes a wonderful gift, sure to blossom joy in every reader’s heart.
A Month of Summer
Immerse yourself in the transformative power of family and new beginnings with A Month of Summer. Successful lawyer Rebecca returns home to care for her ill father, confronting lingering pain from her childhood. Yet as she cares for her eccentric grandmother and disabled brother, Rebecca begins to heal. With compassion and humor, this book captures the messiness of real people struggling to reconnect. You’ll fall in love with charming characters like big-hearted Teddy and sage Mrs. Doyne. Their warmth helps Rebecca embrace second chances. With lyrical descriptions of Michigan lakes and cozy cabins, A Month of Summer envelops you in the nostalgia of long summer days. As Rebecca relinquishes old hurts, you’ll be inspired to do the same. This poignant story reminds us to appreciate each fleeting moment with loved ones. Let go of grudges and see your family with fresh eyes.
The Story Keeper
Immerse yourself in a captivating tale of history, family, and the power of forgiveness with The Story Keeper. Successful editor Jen Gibbs discovers a mysterious, enthralling manuscript about a girl in early 20th century Appalachia that compels her to confront her painful past. As Jen pieces together the identity of the anonymous author, she revisits her tight-knit mountain community and the dysfunctional relatives she fled from. With lyrical prose and skillful plotting, The Story Keeper braids together two compelling narratives across time. You’ll be drawn into the vivid setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains and invested in seeing Jen make peace with her roots. This insightful book explores how embracing our personal and collective histories can set us free. Let it inspire you to show more grace to yourself and loved ones. Healing often comes when we least expect it.
Drenched in Light
Reignite your passion and purpose with Drenched in Light’s stirring narrative about second chances. Gifted dancer Julia Costell lost her way after an injury, accepting an unfulfilling job as a school counselor. Then she meets a troubled student, Dell, whose raw talent as a writer rekindles Julia’s own artistic spirit. As Julia mentors Dell, she rediscovers her sense of purpose. But disturbing undercurrents at the elite arts academy threaten to undo their progress. Drenched in Light illuminates how giving back can transform our own lives for the better. You’ll be moved by the authentic, complex characters and themes of overcoming adversity. Wingate’s elegant prose and subtle spiritual threads will speak to your soul. Let this uplifting book open your eyes to the beauty around you. Believe you have gifts left to share with the world.
Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate
Discover the riveting historical fiction novel Wildwood Creek by bestselling author Lisa Wingate. This engaging book masterfully weaves together a mysterious tale set in two different time periods that will keep you hooked from beginning to end.
As the reader, you are transported back and forth between the past and present, slowly unraveling the perplexing secrets surrounding the abandoned town of Wildwood Creek. In 1861, young Bonnie Rose arrives in the bustling Wildwood Creek, where eerie events soon begin to unfold. Jump ahead to modern day, where a Hollywood film crew descends upon the deserted town, determined to uncover its dark history.
The parallels between Bonnie Rose’s experiences and the film crew’s dangerous mission are artfully drawn. Wingate’s vivid descriptions truly bring both eras to life. You can’t help but feel invested in the fates of the characters, desperately hoping they emerge unscathed. This novel has something for every reader – romance, adventure, and thought-provoking themes.
Fans of historical mysteries will be enthralled by the haunting atmosphere and shocking twists that Wingate expertly delivers. If you enjoy getting pulled into an absorbing, atmospheric tale filled with rich historic details, Wildwood Creek is a must-read.
Lisa Wingate Books Buying Guide
When it comes to selecting the best Lisa Wingate books, her novels can largely be divided into two categories – standalone historical fiction and series books. Here’s an overview of both types, along with the most recommended titles in each category:
Standalone Historical Fiction
Many of Wingate’s most popular titles are sweeping standalone works of historical fiction. Her books in this category are extensively researched and bring to life little-known stories from America’s past. Must-read picks include:
Before We Were Yours – This 2017 bestseller follows the story of a modern-day young woman and an elderly woman in a nursing home who realize they are connected by a dark history at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage. Deeply moving and eye-opening, this novel is inspired by the real-life scandal around Georgia Tann’s black market baby adoption service.
The Book of Lost Friends – Set in 1875, this 2020 novel weaves together the stories of three women searching for connection, redemption, and truth in the tumultuous aftermath of the Civil War. From a freed slave looking for her lost family to a displaced teacher establishing a new school for the emancipated, this book highlights lesser-known aspects of Reconstruction.
The Sea Glass Sisters – Wingate’s 2022 release returns to the North Carolina coastal setting of her Carolina Chronicles series. It focuses on twin sisters coming to terms with the secrets of their mother’s youth in the 1930s as a cousin they never knew existed appears in their lives. Filled with mystery and family drama.
In addition to standalones, Wingate has authored several interconnected series that let you follow the trials and triumphs of memorable characters across multiple books. Notable series to read include:
The Moses Lake Series – Set in a quaint Texas town, this trilogy kicks off with Talk of the Town about a scandal involving the town’s new doctor. The stories continue in Word Gets Around and Never Say Die. Read them in order for the full experience.
The Carolina Chronicles – Jumping back in time to Depression-era North Carolina, these books begin with Tending Roses, about three very different sisters facing challenges at their family-run boarding house. Other entries like The Sea Glass Sisters revisit this setting.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Series – Take a trip along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway with this 3-book series about travelers finding love and new adventures. It includes A Thousand Voices, The Mountains Between Us, and Roanoke Road. The books work well together or separately.
Other Notable Works
Along with her major series and popular individual titles, other Lisa Wingate books worth checking out include:
- The Prayer Box – standalone 2013 novel about a woman uncovering family secrets on a North Carolina island
- The Story Keeper – 2014 standalone set in Appalachia with a dual narrative about the past and present
- The Sea Keeper’s Daughters – 2015 Depression-era story about two sisters and a 70-year family mystery
- The Tenth Muse – Historical fiction from 2021 following a woman mathematician’s journey for education and acceptance
- The Judge’s List – Wingate’s 2022 thriller collaboration on this continuing John Grisham series
Lisa Wingate Writing Style
As you explore Wingate’s bibliography, you’ll notice certain hallmarks of her writing style. Here’s what you can expect:
- Extensive historical research into little-known true events and time periods
- Dual timelines that artfully weave together past and present narratives
- Strong female protagonists overcoming challenges
- Moving coming-of-age journeys and self-discovery
- Complex family relationships and generational connections
- Southern settings like the Carolinas, Louisiana, and Texas
- Themes of faith, forgiveness, belonging, and life purpose
Full of heart and rich historical detail, Wingate’s novels sweep you away to the past while speaking to universal human experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re new to Lisa Wingate’s work, you likely have some questions as you get started exploring her books. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from readers:
Which Lisa Wingate book should I read first?
Many readers recommend beginning with Before We Were Yours since it’s arguably Wingate’s most popular standalone novel and requires no prior familiarity with characters or settings. The Prayer Box is another good entry point into her historical fiction. For a series starter, try Talk of the Town from the Moses Lake trilogy.
Are Lisa Wingate’s books connected?
While most of her novels can be read as standalones, some feature interconnected characters across multiple books. The Moses Lake trilogy, Carolina Chronicles, and Blue Ridge Parkway series have direct character and setting connections between each installment.
What is Lisa Wingate’s most popular book?
Without a doubt, Before We Were Yours is Wingate’s top bestseller to date. This blockbuster hit remained on the New York Times best seller list for over a year. It has sold over 2 million copies and counting. Other favorites include The Book of Lost Friends and the Moses Lake series opener Talk of the Town.
What genre is Lisa Wingate?
Wingate writes primarily historical fiction and contemporary/modern fiction aimed at adult audiences. Her books often blend women’s fiction and mystery elements as well. While containing serious themes, her stories are not overly dark or violent.
Do you have to read Lisa Wingate’s books in order?
For standalone books, you can read the novels in any order you like. But for Wingate’s series, it’s best to start with the first book and read each installment sequentially to follow character timelines and relationship developments. The Moses Lake, Carolina Chronicles and Blue Ridge Parkway books are all interconnected chronologically.
How many books has Lisa Wingate written?
As a prolific writer, Wingate has published over 30 novels to date across her various series as well as standalone works. She continues releasing new books regularly, averaging about one per year.
Are Lisa Wingate books based on a true story?
While fictionalized, Wingate’s historical fiction books are extensively researched and inspired by actual people and events, especially lesser known stories she wants to bring to light. For instance, Before We Were Yours stems from the horrifying true history of Georgia Tann’s corrupt Memphis adoption business.
From page-turning historical fiction to poignant family sagas, Lisa Wingate’s books deliver compelling stories along with richly drawn settings and characters. For an emotional journey you won’t soon forget, pick up any of the must-read titles discussed in this guide. From longtime bestseller Before We Were Yours to the Carolina Chronicles series and beyond, you have lots of amazing reading ahead with Wingate’s extensive bibliography.
- Lisa Wingate’s official website – This website provides information about Lisa Wingate’s background, her books, and upcoming events.
- For Book Clubs – Lisa Wingate – If you’re reading one of Lisa Wingate’s books with your book club, this page provides resources, activities, recipes, and more to enhance your reading experience.
- About Lisa – Lisa Wingate – This page provides more information about Lisa Wingate’s background and her writing career.
- Lisa’s Bookshelf – Lisa Wingate – This page allows you to view and purchase books from Lisa Wingate’s Carolina Chronicles and Carolina Heirlooms Novels and Novellas.
- Lisa Wingate | Penguin Random House – This page provides a list of Lisa Wingate’s books published by Penguin Random House, including A Thousand Voices, The Book of Lost Friends, Drenched in Light, Before and After, and Before We Were Yours.