I was delighted to be asked by author Lorna Gray to take part in her 30 Days of Book Blogs, celebrating the publication of her latest novel, Mrs P’s Book of Secrets, by touring around 30 bloggers and finding out more about them. If you have a look at Lorna’s social media feeds, she has been sharing lots of interesting facts about bloggers from various parts of the world. Unfortunately, Lorna’s not feeling too well just now so you’ll have to hold on a while to find out more about me! If you search the hashtag #30DaysofBookBlogs you can catch up on the other bloggers taking part too.
This book is set post World War 2 and shows the difficulties of settling back into a normal life, when life has irrevocably changed for so many and may never be the same again. Lucy, the eponymous Mrs P, is a war widow and trying to get back to normality has meant returning to live in the room above the publishing office, where she lived as a child with her beloved aunt and uncle. Although having worked as an editor herself during the war, there is neither enough work nor money in her uncle’s business so she is employed as a receptionist/clerk, while still carrying out some editing work. The other editor, Robert Underhill, spent almost all the war as a prisoner of war and his experiences have made him understandably quiet and reserved.
In the US, the title of the novel is The Book Ghost. The ghost could refer to a little girl who Lucy comes across through a book she is editing and she, and others, are distressed to find there seems to be little trace of her existence. No grave stone, no line on the family tomb, no mention in any newspapers. Lucy is drawn to this child, perhaps due to her own experiences as a child and in more recent years, and becomes quite obsessive in her quest to find out what happened to her. Many of the characters in the book are haunted by ghosts of the past and themes of grief and guilt are strong.
The book is written very much in the style of the time, you can almost hear the clipped accents of the characters. This added to the authenticity of the book which has clearly been extensively researched. It also means it’s a book you can’t whizz through and that’s fine. There were times when I felt a bit confused about the way the story was going and I did have to take my time to make sure I understood fully. The story demands and deserves your full attention. The author has brought to life the way people lived and behaved in the post war era and I was particularly interested in the workings of a small publishers at this time.
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets is a gentle story of new opportunities, second chances and adjusting to new ways of life. There are several mysteries to be solved throughout the book with the author leaving small clues about characters and secrets which all come together at the end. I found this to be an unusual and quietly compelling read.
My thanks to the author for inviting me to take art in #30DaysofBookBlogs and to the publishers for my review copy from Netgalley. Mrs P’s Book of Secrets (published as The Book Ghost in America) is available now as an ebook and the paperback will follow in March. You can buy a copy from Amazon UK here and from Amazon US here
From the back of the book
The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946
A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.
But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.
For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss…
About the author
Lorna Gray was born in 1980 in Bedfordshire. Her relationship with the glorious countryside of the Cotswolds began many years ago when she first moved to Cirencester. She has been exploring the area through her love of history, adventure and romance ever since.
This is Lorna’s fourth post-WWII mystery. Her three previous novels are In the Shadow of Winter (2015), The War Widow (2018) and The Antique Dealer’s Daughter (2018). She lives in the Cotswolds with her husband.
Follow Lorna Gray on social media