Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Book of Secrets - Book Review

I was trying think of another book to compare to The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold so I could describe it to a friend. The only book that even comes close (that I've read, anyway) is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield but without the ghosts. Part fairy tale, part an ode to classic literature, The Book of Secrets has family drama, tragedy, mystery and an enduring love story.

Chloe is only eight years old when she meets Nate, Cecilia and Grace Sinclair. The children of a local pastor, they are taught at home by their beautiful but ailing mother who reads to them from the classic stories of C.S. Lewis and Rudyard Kipling. Chloe is enraptured by their beauty and the rich and fantastic worlds she discovers in the stories. Cecilia becomes her best friend and she falls in love with the handsome Nate.

But the sheltered world of the Sinclairs is not as perfect as it appears from the outside. Their mother's health is failing and their father's discipline is cruel. The children continue to escape into literature and their secret friendship with Chloe.

Years later, Chloe and Nate's used book store is failing and their marriage is suffering. Nate disappears suddenly leaving only a brief and cryptic note. Grasping for answers, Chloe starts to investigate and finds a book filled with Nate's diary in a secret language. As she works to break the code, Chloe will discover secrets from their past that she didn't even know.

Completely readable, I found myself entranced by the story. A little long at times and occasionally repetitive, the characters and plot are captivating enough that I didn't mind. At times the children behave or act badly and/or with melodrama but given their love for fantasy stories and their reclusive upbringing, it makes more sense.

The Book of Secrets is well written and captivating. It was easy to keep turning the pages late into the night and become immersed in the unusual world of the Sinclairs.

The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold was published Bantam in July 2013.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Book of Secrets in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.**


Megan said...

All you had to say was Thirteenth Tale. I LOVED that book! I'll definitely be reading this one.

Ashley Walker said...

I will for sure be adding this to my "to read" list!