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Ellen Baker Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Keeping the House (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
I Gave My Heart to Know This (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Ellen Baker is a literature and historical fiction author born in the Upper Midwest. She has also worked as a bookstore coordinator, a bookseller, and a museum curator. Her works include The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson, I Gave My Heart to Know This, and Keeping the House.

In the novel The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson, the story starts in 1924 when four-year-old Cecily Larson’s mother takes her to an orphanage in Chicago with a promise to return once she makes enough money. However, years pass, and she never comes back. Just after Cecily turns seven,

she is sold to a travelling circus to play the ‘Little sister’ role to a bareback Rider, Isabelle Dumonde.

Cecily finally feels she’s found the family she has always wished for in the circus crew. She soon realises that the man who purchased her isn’t answering her and starts worrying that her mother might not find her if she looks for her at the orphanage.

The innocence in Cecily's heart believes that her mother will keep her promise. Her buyer owns half the circus, and when they finally arrive at their destination, she is surprised by the sight of many animals, clowns, and more than enough food that she doesn’t have to worry about what
to eat.
She wonders whether she’ll still be expected to perform even when she has a knee injury. To her relief, Cecily is taken under Isabella’s wing, and they act while riding a horse; she doesn’t hurt her knee further.

As time passes, Cecily becomes more attached to her horse. She can still see the good in people until, one day, Isabelle becomes jealous of her. Isabella is witnessing the man who bought Cecily, and as she becomes a teenager, the man starts gaining interest in her. This makes
Isabella furious, and the sisterly bond that they have formed is replaced by hatred and brutality towards Cecily. Cecily is left with the horse, and soon, she finds herself gaining feelings for one of the

teenagers, who helps her with the injured knee. As the chemistry between the two builds,

Cecily discovers that she is pregnant and her boyfriend is nowhere to be found. She ends up being put in a reformatory and is more than determined to keep her baby. Soon, she is taken to a better home and hopes to get a chance to stay and deliver her baby. Cecily prays that she will find her baby’s father and become a family someday. As years pass, the gaps in her world start to show, and when she meets and falls in love with a young deckhand named Lucky, her life takes an unexpected and dangerous path.

The story switches to 2015 when Cecily is 94 years old and lives peacefully in Minnesota with her daughter, grandson, and granddaughter. Her grandson has a DNA project in school, so his mother and grandmom help to get great-grandmom’s DNA and take the results to her as a
surprise since she has always been told she is an orphan. However, when her family discovers it is not what they expected. The test reveals the tragic love story that Cecily had kept buried for many decades and questions everything the family she’s raised and claimed to own for over
seven decades.

Cecily and everyone has to decide who they indeed are and what family and forgiveness mean. The story is narrated in alternating timelines from Cecily’s young age to when she is 94. There is also a story of another family of Kate, a widow and currently recovering from alcohol abuse. She’s picked by her sister, Lana and taken to pay their mother a visit in North Carolina. Gradually, all their backstories are brought to light, and all are sad.

Lana is dark-skinned, and after she was born, her father took a single look at her and abandoned the family. These are the kinds of stories where the father requests paternity tests, and later, secrets resurface because a parent or grandparent had marital affairs.

The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson is an entertaining and compelling family drama about a strong woman and her drive to survive. It’s a story filled with trauma, loss, and love.

Keeping the House is a novel set in the 1950s, between the two world wars. It’s the story of a newlywed who falls in love with a big abandoned house, where secrets soon unravel through the family generations.

When Dolly Magnuson relocated to Pine Rapids, Wisconsin, in 1950, she realized too soon that making a marriage work is more work than what we read in magazines. Her new life involves managing the house, supporting his husband’s career and looking for new dinner recipes. She
has even given up her dream job to become a pilot and instead decides to join a quilting circle. Before long, her loneliness and imagination end when she sees a vacant house on the hill. As her life and marriage become hard, Dolly starts piecing together the generations of Wilma Mickelson, moved to Pine Rapids in 1896 as a new bride and unexpectedly fell in love with a different man. When her eldest son, Jack, an ex-marine in World War I and JJ, Jack’s son, a

traumatised ex-soldier of World War II, returns home to find Dolly in his grandparents' house. As Dolly's marriage is in crisis, she digs deep into JJ’s family's past but is surprised to find their life resembling hers. Their lives are majorly shadowed by grief and betrayal.

The novel moves back and forth in time, exploring the themes of wartime heroism and passionate love. It also highlights men’s struggles with fatherhood and war and women’s conflicts with issues of love, forbidden dreams, and identity.

The story is beautifully written, illuminating the courage it takes to restructure a life. Keeping the House is an engaging story on a family saga and a romantic page-turner. Ellena Baker portrays America’s housewife in a heartbreaking yet hilarious way. She has weaved an enthralling family saga consisting of three generations of unique characters.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Ellen Baker

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