Published: August 4, 2015
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…
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.