THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS by Eva Rice
24th October 2005, Plume Books
Set in 1950s London The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty Talitha who lost her husband to the war. Penelope with her mother and brother struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home while postwar London spins toward the next decade’s cultural revolution.
Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love and when her new best friend Charlotte a free spirit in the young society set drags Penelope into London with all of its grand parties she sets in motion great change for them all. Charlotte’s mysterious and attractive brother Harry uses Penelope to make his American ex-girlfriend jealous with unforeseen consequences and a dashing wealthy American movie producer arrives with what might be the key to Penelope’s and her family’s future happiness.
Vibrant witty and filled with vivid historical detail The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an utterly unique debut novel about a time and place just slipping into history.
Sometimes you buy books that you think look and sound interesting and that you would enjoy, you take them home put them on your shelf and then look at them occasionally before choosing something else to read. This was the case for me with THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS. I bought it years ago and it has done 7 house moves with me and still I never got around to reading it. Until the Beat the Backlist challenge that we were set for the blog. I finally picked up this book and BOY am I glad I did!
What a wonderful, cute story. Penelope is a shy girl of 18 trying to adapt to life in a big house after the war which caused the family to lose the head of the household and Penelope’s mother’s reason for living. Penelope’s life is pretty boring until Charlotte comes along and picks Penelope out of a line of people at a bus stop. When Penelope and Charlotte take tea with Charlotte’s aunt a friendship is formed and Penelope’s life goes in a direction she never imagined.
We are introduced to lots of different types of characters. There is Charlotte’s cousin, magician Harry, head over heels in love with an American socialite who is just a little out of reach, Penelope’s brother Inigo who is so music obsessed it is all he lives and breathes as well as Penelope’s beautiful mother who is struggling to adapt to life without her husband in a house falling to pieces around her.
As Penelope sets on a path full of adventure, we get to go along for the ride. Penelope discovers lots about herself, love and music as she embarks on a new journey. I loved how Penelope developed from a shy unsure girl into a beautiful confident woman. Watching her grow was like seeing a flower bloom throughout the seasons. Penelope was easy to like and exactly how you would imagine a girl of 18 to start out as a grown up.
I did keep having to remind myself that the book is set in the 1950s and not earlier as the description of the house and the manners of the people reminded me of what I have read about in the 1930s. I love the way that Elvis Presley is just starting out on his career and that was interesting for me to read about.
I loved how the story ended with Penelope finally admitting her feelings for a certain boy but left open ended for the reader decide where they go from here. I imagine that Penelope got a happy ending and became a well known writer.
I adored this book, it was such a cute lovable story and I highly recommend for people looking for something to the usual romance type of book. Me enjoying this book so much has reminded me that I need to read more of the books sitting on my shelf, who knows what other gems are hiding there!
You can buy THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS from the following booksellers (and obviously many more! Support your local booksellers where you can!)