It’s a pleasure to be bringing you my review of Mrs P’s Book of Secrets by Lorna Gray (published under the title The Book Ghost in the US). Thanks to Lorna for inviting me to mark publication of her book by taking part in her month long celebration of book bloggers, #30DaysOfBookBlogs.
About the Book
The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946: A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.
But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhill’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.
For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss.
There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself.
Format: ebook (400 pages) Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication date: 14th December 2019 Genre: Historical fiction
Find Mrs P’s Book of Secrets on Goodreads
I really enjoyed how the author conjured up the slightly antiquated atmosphere of the bookshop, publishing office, print room and attic which are the main settings for the story.
The story progresses at a gentle pace with the occasional moment of melodrama but a lot of the reader’s time is spent inside the head of Mrs P as she continually seeks to interpret other’s words, actions, gestures and emotions, particularly those of the new editor, Robert Underhill. Whilst much personal interaction is, as the author so aptly describes it, ‘an endless dance around the edge of misunderstanding’, at times this introspection and constant second-guessing risked distracting from the story. However, I can also see it reflected Mrs P’s own uncertainty about her position, how others regard her and her abilities, and the general reluctance of many to talk of things related to the war. So many questions that can’t be asked for fear of touching on some hidden trauma.
The mystery surrounding the young girl mentioned in the book Robert Underhill is editing reflects one of the underlying themes of the book, that the dead still ‘exist’ as long as someone remembers them or their presence is recorded in some way, whether through stories, artefacts or even the places they lived. ‘The ghosts of this world are all around in the words and actions of those who have gone before.’ Eventually Mrs P reaches a point where she can reconcile herself to the loss of her husband and the life they might have had, and to begin to see another fulfilling future for herself.
Mrs P’ s Book of Secrets is a thoughtful, tender exploration of the legacy of war and how people face the challenges of making new lives for themselves.
I received a review copy courtesy of One More Chapter via NetGalley.
In three words: Gentle, reflective, insightful
Try something similar: A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier (read my review here)
About the Author
Lorna Gray was born in 1980 in Bedfordshire. Her relationship with the glorious countryside of the Cotswolds began many years ago when she first moved to Cirencester. She has been exploring the area through her love of history, adventure and romance ever since.
This is Lorna’s fourth post-WWII mystery. Her three previous novels are In the Shadow of Winter (2015), The War Widow (2018) and The Antique Dealer’s Daughter (2018). She lives in the Cotswolds with her husband.
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