My grateful thanks to Lorna Gray for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for Mrs P’s Book of Secrets and including me in her #30DaysofBookBlogs.
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets will be published by Harper Collins’ imprint One More Chapter on 14th December 2019 and is available for pre-order here in the UK. In the US Mrs P’s Book of Secrets is published as The Book Ghost and is available here.
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets
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…
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets will be published in the US as The Book Ghost.
My Review of Mrs P’s Book of Secrets
Working in her uncle’s publishing company after the war entails more than Mrs P might imagine.
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets confounded me as it wasn’t quite what I was expecting from the blurb and opening. It’s not the fast paced supernatural thriller I imagined, but rather a quiet book that grows on the reader and needs quite careful and focused reading to appreciate fully. I confess I did find some of the structure a challenge but I think this is deliberate obfuscation on the part of the author to help create the mystery within the story. I certainly found the hints at the supernatural equally as effective as any more direct approach.
The narrative voice is strong and carefully attuned to the era, the book publishing setting and the social background of the characters so that I had a clear understanding of Mrs P, or Lucy. I felt I knew her far better than she knew herself for much of the book and I felt quite sorry for her and admired her in equal measure. I enjoyed the clues about Robert scattered throughout so that I felt I was involved in finding out about him at the same time as Lucy, adding to the sense of mystery.
Whilst the plot is perhaps a little more measured that I expected, I really appreciated the themes in Mrs P’s Book of Secrets. The post-war era is explored thoroughly, making for a thought provoking read. Secrets, grief, PTSD, suspicion and identity that were so important at the time, weave through the pages, making the reader ponder and think because these are issues that still resonate today. There’s a real sense of time and history here too. The concept of family is also important and I liked the way in which Lorna Grey challenges the definition of family and belonging through her story. I also appreciated the insight into the machinations and rivalries of a small publishing company. What touched me most, however, was Lucy’s sense of loss for a child she’d never had.
I thought the Cotswolds setting was absolutely right for Mrs P’s Book of Secrets. Indeed, I could see this becoming serialised as an afternoon television programme in the style of Father Brown or Shakespeare and Hathaway. The sense of place is clear and effective.
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets is a book that rewards the close attention of the reader and illustrates the important message that who we are is as important as what we do.
About Lorna Gray
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.