Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Book Description:

Published: August 4, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child’s mother, it is wrong…

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother’s belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew – dated after he supposedly died in the war.

Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Yan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later…

Review –

Roberta treasures books so much that she pines away in her beloved job at Old and New Bookshop, watching Philip, her boss and the man she can’t yet admit to herself that she loves, take the beautiful Jenna as his lover. But secrets begin to spill out of the books—secrets that will change her understanding of the past and hopes for the future.

One fateful day, Roberta’s father, John, brings in an old suitcase labeled “Mrs. D. Sinclair,” filled with her grandmother Dorothea Pietrykowski’s old books. Between the pages, Roberta discovers a letter dated Feb. 8, 1941, signed by her grandfather Yan Pietrykowski, warning Dorothea that what she is about to do will dishonor her, imperil her very soul, and wrong some unnamed mother and child. If only Roberta could ask her grandmother or her father about the letter, but at 109, Dorothea has entered hospice care, and John’s health is failing, as well.

Meanwhile, Jenna confesses to a bewildered Roberta that she’s pregnant with a child fathered by her ex-boyfriend and not her current boyfriend, Philip, the owner of the bookstore.

The authors’ debut novel nimbly weaves together Roberta’s and Dorothea’s stories—the reader almost expects to pull a shadowy missive from its spine. Roberta’s life is a mess; she stifles her feelings for Philip, twisting her desires into a sad affair with a married man. But Dorothea’s story is the stuff of films: disowned, disappointed in marriage, crushed by multiple miscarriages—Dorothea rises above it all to manage her own farmhouse, to take into her home two young women, part of the Women’s Land Army, and to find new love with Yan, the dashing Polish Squadron Leader.

I felt so sorry for Yan, because even though he broke Dorothy’s heart saying that he couldn’t offer marriage to her if she was going through with her plan with he baby (you’ll have to read the book so find out which baby) but later, after the war, has a change of heart and tries to find her, but doesn’t succeed. We never find out what happens to him.

A breathtaking, beautifully crafted tale of loves that survive secrets.

Fantastic read!

 

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The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.

1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.

One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself ?

Review –

I would classify book as “historical fiction” because the basic story is true. It’s hard to believe today  in our world of instant gratification, social media, iPhones, and fake news but in 1917 it was a very different time and people needed a distraction from the seriousness of war and hard times and so found it easier to believe in the fairy story and also it happened in England, where fairies, gnomes and “the wee little people” were often discussed.

“In 1917, while the world was in the midst of a war, cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright staged photographs to make it appear that Frances was surrounded by fairies. Although they never intended for the faked photographs to be seen by anyone outside their family, the photos became famous enough that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publicly claimed they were real. With so much attention directed toward them, Elsie and Frances promised to keep the truth a secret. One hundred years later, in the present day, Olivia Kavanagh inherits her grandfather’s bookshop in Ireland. But Olivia’s grandfather didn’t just leave her the bookshop—he also left a manuscript written by Frances, and it details exactly how (and more importantly, why) she and Elsie staged their photographs and maintained their hoax for so many years. Olivia has her own troubles to deal with—extracting herself from an unhappy engagement, caring for her ill grandmother, and facing a diagnosis of infertility—but she soon discovers that, as her grandfather told her, stories choose “the right readers at the right time.” Just as Frances realized that people needed to believe in fairies to find hope during WWI, Olivia finds that believing in a little bit of magic helps her reconnect with the woman she used to be. The insight into the true story of the Cottingley fairies is interesting, and it’s easy to understand why two girls might play along with an innocent trick that became a worldwide sensation. Olivia’s struggles are never quite as compelling, and readers may find themselves eager to slip back into the world of the fairies.” from Kirkus Review

It was a joy to read and if you want to read more about the actual story, here is a link complete with the photographs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies

 

King’s Cage (Red Queen #3) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Published: February 7, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Review –

It’s been almost a year since I read the second book in the Red Queen series so I was afraid I’d have trouble getting back into the story, but it was amazingly simple to pick up the storyline.

The story starts with Mare as Maven’s prisoner, but gets wonderfully complicated as it delves into their twisted relationship. It’s all just SO WELL DONE. Maven’s mother literally molded his mind throughout his life to the point where he’s no longer sure which parts are his own. She even turned his love for Mare into an obsession and erased the love he had for his brother, Cal. And there’s still a small part of Mare that cares about Maven (or is at least empathetic) even though she wants to kill him.

The story never excuses Maven’s actions, by the way.The author is very clear that this is not a relationship that will ever be good (or happen), but  I still LOVE how complicated everything is between them. Stories with black & white characters or shallow villains get old for me really fast because it’s unbelievable. Maven’s character totally worked.

Mare is  totally broken and starts to feel gratitude to Maven for the most basic acts of humanity. Watching her grapple with everything was actually one of my favorite parts. She somehow finds the strength to fight again and is a totally relatable character you WANT to support. All of her thoughts and actions make sense and she has so much growth over the course of the story.

To make a long story short, Mare is finally able to be rescued and a huge battle ensues between the Reds and the Silvers, with both sides having many casualties. “The Lightening Girl” is able to harness her gift and she a Cal, together work for the good. BUT, when push comes to shove and a kingship is offered to Cal, he takes it, knowing it goes against everything Mare believes in. So after barely getting back together, they break up. A bit after that, the book ends, and I CANNOT wait until next year for the fourth book in the series.  Write faster, Victoria Aveyard!!!!!