> The Things You Can Read: Review: The Book of Secrets By Elizabeth Arnold

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: The Book of Secrets By Elizabeth Arnold

The Book of Secrets

“Sitting in our bookstore at night, I can hear the stories.  Or not hear them so much as feel them: the neat, round softness of Austen with its improbable, inevitable love affairs; the sprawl of Dickens with its meandering threads tying into coincidental knots.  All the books have colors and shapes not just from the stories written but from the stories of the authors who’ve done the writing; from Steinbeck’s realism to Murakami’s cubism, a regular art museum of voices.” Enter the world of Chloe Sinclair whose life-long relationship with books has been a centering force.  Chloe’s bond with the characters she meets on the page is just as real as the life-long friendship she shares with Nate, her husband, and his sisters, Grace and Cecelia.  If this strikes a chord then this novel is a must read.
The Book of Secrets is a book lover’s dream.  Elizabeth Arnold has captured the love affair many have with books.  She has found the words to express eloquently the real connections people make with words written on the page.  “So.  Once upon a time there was a girl named Chloe who lived virtually alone, in a cottage by the woods.”  Enter Chloe’s world.  The world she creates on her eighth birthday when according to Chloe “…she was born.”  Join her as her life entangles with that of the Sinclair family, an entanglement that will forever interlace Chloe’s life with that of this eccentric family, a family full of secrets.  As Chloe says, “We think we know our friends, our lovers, but really all we know is pieces of them.  Fragments we learn by watching, sharing time and place, listening to their stories; over the years there are more and more of these fragments and we can draw lines between them, fill them with what we imagine is true.  But of course we only know what they show us; lines we think jig here may actually curl somewhere else altogether.  The lines we draw aren't always real, and often have more to do with our own selves.”  Delve into this work of fiction and immerse yourself in an engrossing portrayal of a family.
The author artfully and repeatedly uses that age-old comforting childhood phrase, Once Upon a Time, that initiates many children into the world of storytelling:  “Once upon a time there was a young man who’d loved a girl so deeply, so truly, that he left his family to be with her.”  Step over the threshold into Elizabeth `Arnold’s remarkable love story to literature.  The Chronicles of Narnia, Where the Wild Things Are, Crime and Punishment, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Road Not Taken are just a few of the chapter titles which allow the reader to establish the mood for events to come or yet to be revealed.   

I found The Book of Secrets mesmerizing.  It is one of those novels that kept this reader up into the wee hours of the morning because I had to know what was going to happen next.  When was the last time you stayed up past your bedtime to finish a book because you just could not stop reading?  If you love books, I mean really, really, really, love books, and you love novels that tackle big themes, such as, Family, Friendship,  Marriage, and Loss then read The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Arnold. 

We want to thank Bantam and Net Galley for providing us with an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of  The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Arnold.

Rating:4 of 5 stars
Summary Courtesy of Net Galley:
At once a captivating mystery, a love letter to classic literature, and a sharp-eyed examination of marriage, The Book of Secrets is a gripping novel of family, friendship, and the undeniable pull of the past.

After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he’s returned to his and Chloe’s childhood town of Redbridge, California—a place brimming with memories of young love and unspeakable loss, and a place Chloe never wants to see again.
Tending to their small bookstore while trying to reach her husband, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside Nate’s ancient copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Written in a code that Nate and his sisters created as children—using passages from their favorite books to scramble hidden messages in the text—the pages contain long-buried secrets from Chloe’s and Nate’s past, and clues to why he’s gone back to Redbridge after all these years. As Chloe reunites with Nate’s family and struggles to decipher the notebook’s hidden messages, she revisits the seminal moments of their youth: the day she met the enigmatic Sinclair children and learned what a magical escape books could be from a troubled childhood; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; the elaborate plan the young couple devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break free from Nate’s oppressive father, and how the thwarted attempt upended their lives forever. And as the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself.

Does this sound like a book for you?  Let us know here at The Things You Can Read!

Happy Reading!
The Things You Can Read
Believe In Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love, and the Power of Books!

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