Book Recommendation: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

These dresses look like candy

I don’t really have a new release to recommend this week (currently juggling Megan Abbott’s Fever and Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising while attempting to maintain a social life (a small one)) so I’m pulling out a book I stumbled on when I was in high school and am surprised that more people haven’t read–or heard of–it.

Eva Rice’s The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is the story of Penelope, a young woman living with her mother and brother in the crumbling remains of the family fortune in 1950s London. She befriends a free spirited girl named Charlotte (who is really more of a Samantha) and her aspiring magician brother, Harry (who really does sound a lot like Harry Potter). There’s classic rock and roll, crushes on Elvis-like singers, champagne, parties, and a lot of flirting. Which is all how this one girl deals with loss and recovery post-WWII.

In a very, very small way, it’s like a British 1950’s version of Sex and the City.

Sort of.

Very strained metaphor.

I’m probably the only one who thinks this.

What Intrigued Me: It was a Barnes & Noble recommendation, which was how I noticed it in the first place. But that cover! It’s like candy! Elitist, secretive candy.

What Hooked Me: I have always loved reading about British high society. Blame it on all the Austen I read, but I just find it fascinating. A little romantic, but not that much, because I probably wouldn’t enjoy how confining it is, but a teensy bit romantic. And I loved the idea of vintage dresses and parties and PYTs with too much money drinking too much champagne. Kind of like a Bravo show.

What Made Me Fall In Love: All the mistakes.

Penelope and Charlotte (and Inigo and Harry) are young. They mess up. A lot. And not in a funny-sitcom mess up. More in a cringing-why-aren’t-you-thinking-of-consequences-this-can-only-bring-misery mess up. The story isn’t over the top. It’s quiet and sweet and should probably be made into a BBC miniseries starring a Carey Mulligan-esque pixie.

Actually, just bring back the cast of the BBC version of Northanger Abbey. Especially JJ Feild.

Yum

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is available now on Amazon and at your local bookstore. Go read it!

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