THE NIGHT RAINBOW by Claire King
You can read more about The Night Rainbow and how it came into being on Claire's website.
THE PROMISE by Ann Weisgarber
This is Ann Weisgarber's second novel. (The Personal History of Rachel DuPree was long-listed for the Orange Prize.) The story is told from the viewpoint of two very different women and is set in Galveston Texas in 1900. That year, The United States of America suffered its worst natural disaster ever when a violent hurricane swept in to the city, reduces it to matchwood and killed over 6,000 people, including an orphanage. Unimaginable. You can find more information and images on Ann's website.
It goes without saying that both novels are beautifully written with a clear narrative line. But what stands out for me with both Claire King and Ann Weisgarber is the use of Voice. So if you want to understand this essential ingredient of compelling fiction, please read them. It's not only the voices of the actual characters that are distinctive (Both novels are first-person narratives) but the way these two authors use them to tell the story and to give their novels their unique sound and feel.
So if you struggle to understand why publishers reject your manuscripts when your friends say it's well-written, look again at the voice you use. Even third person narrative should be distinctive.