Hello Sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this highly original and atmospheric book; Mrs P’s Book Of Secrets by Lorna Gray. This review is also in collaboration with Lorna’s epic #30DaysOfBookBlogs Event which is happening across social media. So grab a cuppa and enjoy!
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.
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 Underhills’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…
I have been really looking forward to reading a new Lorna Gray book, I love her attention to detail, her passion for the era and the stories which she tells radiates off the pages, it’s immersive and atmospheric. I do have to say first that I did feel a little misled when I started reading as the story itself does feel different to what the back blurb hints at. I did expect a bit more of the supernatural feel to it, but I liked how that aspect of the story was hinted at.
The story is written in the first person, through Lucy’s eyes which allows the reader to really see how much of a low patch she is in, unable and unsure of how to move forward after losing her husband who she only really knew for a short period of time, yet that doesn’t diminish her loss. She has sunk into a bit of a depression, her mind is broken and it is actually very uncomfortable reading at times as we get to know her and are privy to her inner thoughts, but also crucial for the story.
It is 1946, Lucy (Mrs P) finds herself not only widowed but unemployed, she has no choice but to go home, back to the relatives who raised her; her aunt and uncle who basically takes pity on her current state and gives her a job as a receptionist in their family-run publishing house. But as with a lot of women in the same situation life just isn’t the same, she feels a little put out she doesn’t feel she belongs there. Once at her aunt and uncles she meets the new editor; Robert Undershill, a former prisoner of war who has shadows that cloud his mind as he too tries to move forward with his life.
The project Robert is working on soon reveals old and hidden secret of an unknown little girl, that little girl is missing and it is a mystery that Lucy feels she needs to uncover, plus she wants to understand the mystery behind where Robert frequently disappears off to, what is he hiding? What are his secrets and how is it all connected? These questions are hidden in the story.
This really is one my favourite period in British history, it is a harsh and yet fascinating moment in history. The war is over, there is a moment of peace, yet the county is still on rations and will be for quite some years to come, life is hard for everyone. The men who survived are now returning and having to find a place in this completely different society, they not only must find their feet again but most have to overcome great trauma, not just physically but mentally they are broken. Most can’t return to their old lives as they don’t exist anymore and when they do everything has changed. Women who have been keeping the country going either in the fields with the land army or in the factories are now being told to return to their homes. Then there are those who a loved never returned to them, young women who may have had only months or weeks with their husbands, never really knowing them are now widows. I have always found stories from this particular era fascinating. Lorna Gray really grasp hold of that uncertainty which people would have been feeling during the time, she writes Lucy’s emotional conflict towards her life, what she starts to feel for Robert with such sensitivity and realism.
This isn’t the type of book that you can settle in to read in a weekend, then put it down and come back the weekend after when times allows, no it makes you take notice you really need to put 100% concentration into this to fully grasp the happenings within the pages, but if you do put all your focus and mind into the story you will be hugely rewarded as this is a beautifully written, complex, poignant and very loving story all about family, finding one’s feet after trauma and how important true friends are to a person. I can guarantee that if you really delve into this one and look past the misleading back blurb you will love it.
This was an Arc copy via the publisher and Netgalley, which I voluntarily reviewed.
As Apart of the 30 days of Book Blogs event, I have also taken part in an exclusive interview with Lorna, which will be shared on Lorna’s social media sites, I hope you all will hop on over and take a peek at my rambling answers to her questions.
About the Author
Lorna Gray is passionate about understanding the past and takes much of her research from spoken history. She loves the fact that writing gives her the excuse to ask people about their memories, and treasures the unique little insights that every new conversation has to offer. She is also a published illustrator and her work has featured in a number of archaeological reports, children’s books and non-fiction titles.
Above all, Lorna loves a good adventure. She doesn’t mind whether it comes in the form of a good book, a film or rambling about the ruins of a castle as long as it is guaranteed to have a happy ending.