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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets (edition 2007)

by Eva Rice

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7964011,537 (3.87)21
Title:The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets
Authors:Eva Rice
Info:Plume (2007), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:GF, Audio CD (abridged), 2012

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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice


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An enchanting journey through 1950s post-war life as seen by 18 year old Penelope Wallace. Eva Rice's writing style has the same wry wit and humorous observations reminiscent of Jane Austen. This book is a fascinating portrait of the American pop-culture influence creeping throughout Britain after the war and the emergence of the 'teenager'. I enjoyed it very much.

However, the plot felt slightly lacking for me as there didn't seem to be a strong driving force behind the story. There is a romance but it did not feel like the focus of the story, and it sort of emerges as almost an afterthought. There are gorgeous little illustrations on a handful of pages in this edition and I really enjoyed them. I also enjoyed the foreword by Miranda Hart as she is one of my favourite comedians.

The book is no doubt gorgeous looking and the writing style is perfect, I just wish there was a bit more of 'omph' to the story. A 3 star read for me.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an unbiased review. ( )
  KittyBimble | Nov 26, 2015 |
This is the kind of book where you’re surprised to realize you have been sucked into it within a few short pages. There are enough oddities and colorful characters immediately at your fingertips to keep you interested. And yet, I put it down later that day and couldn’t bring myself to pick it back up for nearly a week. That may sound like a lame way to evaluate a book, but it generally speaks volumes (pardon the pun) about my overall enjoyment of the book. The best are the ones that I will read just a little bit more of while brushing my teeth in the morning just because I can squeeze a few more pages in before work.

All that said, when I did pick it back up, I found the same engaging characters and couldn’t put it down until it was done.

So now that my self-indulgence is over, why did I like, but not love this book? It’s another post world war II book, set in England, but its focus is on the very wealthy, elite youngsters of that age and those who are almost in that circle but stay out for various reasons. I generally don’t care about a story of haves and their whining. But this was something slightly more. It was a journey of self-discovery for the main character, who I liked very much. She was just what a young woman should be: a wee-bit on the self-absorbed side but somehow still charming. I hated her mother. I hated how in the end her mother was still being baled out and having her life lived for her by her new “I’m here to take care of you man.”

My primary disappointment was with the title actually–not nearly enough secret keeping or breaking to truly merit such a title. The secrets kept that you discover at the end are just, well, a let down. And one of them sits heavily like the author thought well, what else could I throw in? Ah, yes, that will do! And it didn’t.

I did walk away from this thinking it wasn’t a waste of time and that I’d like to read something else by Ms. Rice. Her characters really do come to life in a delightful way. But I think I am done with post-WWII books for the foreseeable future. ( )
  mullgirl | Jun 8, 2015 |
What a cute book! Very enjoyable read--about a young woman (Penelope) growing up near London around 1955. Her father died in the war, and she and her mother live in their old, huge house that was taken over during the war and is falling apart because they don't have the money to repair it.
The story is also about her friendship with Charlotte, who wants to design clothing, and Charlotte's cousin Harry, who is a magician. The characters were all very interesting and I didn't want the book to end! ( )
  goet0095 | Mar 27, 2014 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it's written wonderfully and I found myself getting lost in it. I can't wait to read more by Eva Rice. ( )
  juniperjungle | Apr 16, 2013 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it's written wonderfully and I found myself getting lost in it. I can't wait to read more by Eva Rice. ( )
  juniperjungle | Apr 16, 2013 |
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She said that we must do something about the rooms. The walls were all damp and fur had settled on some parts of the wallpaper. But we just closed the doors and hurried down to the kitchen where it was warm.

—Edna O'Brien, The Lonely Girl
For Donald "Capability" Rice, who helped me invent Milton Magna
First words
I met Charlotte in London one afternoon while waiting for a bus.
'How tiresome it must be,' I said, 'being in love. I was always led to believe it would be the most wonderful thing ever.'

'Who on earth told you that?' said Charlotte in amazement. 'I've never known it to be anything other than torture.'
Men, I thought, were more trouble than they were worth. Really, one should stick to books where one sees the hero coming a mile off.
It was a funny question. Who was Papa? He was a million things that I would never know, and a million things that I had made him as a result of never knowing.
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THis story is about what happened to me after I met Charlotte, and what happens when you say yes to everything, and how awkward it is when everyone falls in love with the wrong people. It all started on a perfectly ordinary afternoon in November. Charlotte invited me home to tea with Aunt Clare and Harry, and from that moment on, everything changed. At first I don't think I knew it-after all, when I went to bed that night I was still living with my mother and brother in perpetual chaos in a a crumbling estate we couldn't afford to keep, Magna- but the next day, I began to realize that for the first time ever, I had my own life. You see, meeting Charlotte made everything possible. Even being kissed by Johnnie Ray and hanging out with a movie producer named Rocky and believing my brother Inigo could be the next Elvis Presley. And missing people begore they've even gone. This story is what happened when we war babies grew up and needed answers. When we got them, they weren't what we expected at all.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0452288096, Paperback)

Set in 1950s London, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope, the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty, Talitha, who lost her husband to the war. Penelope, with her mother and brother, struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home—while postwar London spins toward the next decade’s cultural revolution.

Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love, and when her new best friend, Charlotte, a free spirit in the young society set, drags Penelope into London with all of its grand parties, she sets in motion great change for them all. Charlotte’s mysterious and attractive brother Harry uses Penelope to make his American ex-girlfriend jealous, with unforeseen consequences, and a dashing, wealthy American movie producer arrives with what might be the key to Penelope’s— and her family’s—future happiness.

Vibrant, witty, and filled with vivid historical detail, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an utterly unique debut novel about a time and place just slipping into history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Struggling to preserve her family's crumbling estate as well as their lifestyle in 1950s London, Penelope endeavors to fall in love, participates in a plot with her best friend's brother, and finds herself falling for a wealthy American movie producer.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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