Mrs. P’s Book of Secrets by Lorna Gray

{D3E6AE4E-BE2A-45A4-ADE7-3905C45BE0E6}Img400 Mrs. P’s Book of Secrets is a story which has a little bit of everything…mystery, romance, history and ghosts…which all add up to an intriguing adventure.

Mrs. Lucy Peuse, or Mrs. P. is a war widow in 1946 who has begun to work in her uncle’s publishing business.  She is hired to make coffee and answer phones, but soon is put to work to edit a book.

Robert Underhill is a former doctor, and prisoner of war who was hired by the company.  What exactly he was hired to do is the first mystery.  Lucy is wary of him, at first…

But when Lucy is given the opportunity to assist with edits of a book about a family named Ashbrook, which in the galley seems to be always misspelled, she soon discovers an Ashbrok family mystery.  See what I did there?

Lucy and Robert try to find out what happened the Ashbroke family member thought to have died as a young child, but with no grave or obituary they are at a loss. No one seems to even remember the child, which is strange for such a well-known family.

As the two grow closer, Lucy must wrestle with her own ghosts.  Due to the loss of her husband she is afraid to love again first because she does not want to betray him but also because she fears her new love will be taken away.

This tale is a love story in so many ways…the love between family members, people we have lost, or people we feel we have disappointed, or the love between family who are not blood, but are still bonded as family, and what they will do for each other no matter what.

As a long ago mystery is put to rest, so are Lucy and Richard’s questions as to who and how we love and that sometimes ghosts can give the permission we need to love again.

Thank you #NetGalley #HarperCollins #LornaGray #Mrs.P’sBookofSecrets for the advanced copy.  The book will be available in the United States on January 23, 2020.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

th Trevor Noah should be dead or in jail, period. The South African comedian and host of The Daily Show chronicles an incredibly abusive, unconventional childhood growing up in South Africa during Apartheid.

Born to a black mother and a white father, Noah documents his adolescence which begins with a powerful story of his mother having to push him out of a moving car on the way home from church for fear his light skin and her dark skin would get him kidnapped. And the book ends with an incredibly dramatic narration of receiving a call from his younger brother telling him his mother had been shot by his step-father.

But although this book is filled with tales anyone would look upon as horribly sad, Noah writes with a wit and humor that was the insanity of his life. He relates these incredible stories with a sort of…can you believe this happened? I can’t! and I was there! attitude.

In between are stories of a young boy who grew up with a very strict mother in poverty and always in fear of being taken away from her because of his skin color.  Noah would spend all day Sunday going to three different churches with his very religious mother never understanding where her faith came from. He would endure abuse from his step-father, as well as witnessing the abuse his mother endured from her husband, while calling the police to no avail.

At their lowest he ate caterpillars for dinner and slept in different cars at night while the family lived at their father’s auto garage.  His friends were members of gangs.  Hearing gunshots and watching police cars speed by were nightly occurrences. He was sent to jail for borrowing his step-father’s car.

But there are also funny stories woven into the book.  Stories of his first three girl crushes. His unique high school job.  His first (and last) prom that he somehow never attended even though he was there!

But as much as his life was crazy, filled with confusion as to who he really was and crammed with chaos, there was always a sense of unconditional love between a mother and her son, a sense of determination to break the previous patterns of life as his mother tried to do, and to do better.  And he did.

 

 

Magpie by Sophie Draper

th The Magpie is the twisted, dark, haunting story of a couple whose marriage and world is falling apart around them.  I had already known that a Magpie was a bird, but after I finished the book, my curiosity as to other meanings got the best of me.  I looked the word up in the dictionary and was intrigued to find a few other explanations; someone with mischievous habits, a collector of things.  I had an aha moment!

Claire and Duncan have been married for over 20 years.  Having met in veterinary school they fell in love and immediately married.  While both did graduate, Duncan was the one to pursue the career.  Claire stayed home and took care of their son Joe.  Over time, Duncan was able to open his own practice. To make a good living.

The resentment they have for each other is palpable.  The bitterness in their marriage awful.  The routine of their lives bitter.

Joe was a difficult child from the beginning, always the odd child, prone to tantrums and with not too many friends, and Claire had been the protective parent.  Now that Joe was 18 and not in school any longer his one aspiration was to spend time with his metal detector scouring the ponds and highlands surrounding their secluded house.

Claire knows that Duncan is cheating on her.  This has been the pattern of their marriage. She just can’t figure out who it is this time.  Until she does.  And she decides now is the time to take Joe and their dog and move into a cottage across the pond.

Then Joe goes missing and Claire is beside herself living in the cottage alone with their dog and trying to find her son.  What has happened to her? What has happened to Joe? And what will happen if people find out the secret she and Duncan share?

This is a heartbreaking story of lies, infidelity and sorrow.  But it is also haunting in so many ways. Draper’s scenic writing skills are both breathtaking and grand, perfectly woven into this shocking tale.

Thank you to #NetGalley #Avon #Magpie #SophieDraper for the advanced copy.