My huge thanks to Bookbridgr and Georgina Moore at Headline for my limited edition signed Advanced Reader Copy of this tenth anniversary edition of ‘The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets’ by Eva Rice. This version of the book is published on 1st July 2015 and is available on Amazon and from all good book stores.
In that tricky time after the war and before the swinging 60s Penelope Wallace finds herself unexpectedly taking tea with Charlotte and Aunt Clare. After that, her life will never be the same as she struggles to deal with her young widowed mother, her younger brother Inigo, a crumbling family home and Charlotte’s odd eyed cousin Harry.
If enjoying ‘The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets’ isn’t enough in its own right, this anniversary edition comes with a foreword by comedian, actress and writer, Miranda Hart and a bonus short story, ‘The Moth Trap’ (the title of which has a multitude of meanings) which prequels the main narrative. ‘The Moth Trap’ can be read as a stand alone story.
It was an absolute pleasure to read ‘The Lost Art of keeping Secrets’. I can’t believe it took me until its 10th anniversary to find this book.
Written in the first person from Penelope’s point of view it is as if she is explaining to you as a friend what has been happening in her life. I loved her as a character, partly because, as Miranda Hart says, she’s tall and generally slightly awkward, like me and partly because she seemed to live every emotion I ever had as a teenager. Even her crush on singer Johnnie Ray echoed mine on Bryan Ferry! Reading ‘The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets’ was unnervingly like reading my own diary.
The plot rattles along at a hugely entertaining pace and really evokes life in 1950s England. Admittedly, the characters live in a privileged upper middle class world, but this is part of the appeal of the novel. Their world does have glittering parties and champagne, but it has endearing mundanity and insecurity too, making it all the more believable.
The writing is humorous and lively. Even the chapter headings are entertaining and it is often very funny. I loved the idea, for example, of a someone being described as a trifle – ‘irresistible, but too much made one feel distinctly queasy’. There are convincing but subtle cultural references throughout of literature, theatre, film and music so that the era and setting are thoroughly convincing.
I found ‘The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets’ a brilliant read. It is perfect summer reading.