If you need a book to give you a real pick-me-up just now, then look no further than Phaedra Patrick’s latest novel, The Secrets of Sunshine. It’s as cheerful inside as that bright cover suggests. The author’s last novel, The Library of Lost and Found was one of my top reads last year so I had high hopes for this novel and I wasn’t disappointed.
Mitchell was an architect who designed bridges but following the death of his wife, he gave up his job and now works for the council cutting love-locks off bridges instead. One day, a woman falls off the bridge and Mitchell jumps in to save her. It’s fair to say that this changes his life in ways he could never have imagined.
I loved the way that Mitchell began the learn about the stories behind the love locks and to appreciate the significance of them. I’m not going to tell you how this came about as I don’t want to spoil the story for you. Rather than seeing them as an act of vandalism to be removed, he could see the people behind the messages on the locks. There were lovely stories shared some of which brought a lump to my throat I must admit.
As with Phaedra Patrick’s previous novels, the characters in this book are what made it so appealing to me. Mitchell himself although sad and grieving was clearly a man who had a big heart, shown not least by his love for his small daughter Poppy. The family of the woman he saved were all really fascinating to read about too, particularly quirky Auntie Jean. Then there’s Carl the concierge in Mitchell’s building, trainee newspaper reporter Susan, his boyhood friend Graham (who has some rather useful friends) and his workmate Barry. Each character added so much to the story for me, and the author brought them colourfully to life.
The Secrets of Sunshine is a gorgeous story about second chances and living life to the full. It’s such an uplifting and hope-filled book that I can’t imagine anyone not finishing it with a huge smile on their face.
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book via Netgalley. The Secrets of Sunshine is available now in ebook, paperback and audiobook formats. If you are able to support an independent bookshop in these strange times, please do. Otherwise, you will find buying options for various retailers on the publisher’s website here: The Secrets of Sunshine
From the back of the book
A single father gets an unexpected second chance at love in the heart-warming new novel from the bestselling author of The Library of Lost and Found.
Only his daughter Poppy knows that behind his prickly exterior, Mitchell Fisher is deeply lonely. He may have sworn off romance, relishing his job cutting off the padlocks that couples fasten to his hometown’s famous ‘love story’ bridge… but underneath it all, he’s still grieving the loss of Poppy’s mum.
Then one hot summer’s day, everything changes when Mitchell bravely rescues a woman who falls from the bridge into the river. He’s surprised to feel an unexpected connection to her, but then she disappears. Desperate to find the mysterious woman, Mitchell teams up with her spirited sister Liza to see if she’s left any clues behind. There’s just one – a secret message on the padlock she left on love story bridge…
Brimming with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and a sparkling cast of characters, The Secrets of Sunshine follows one man’s journey to unlock his heart and discover new beginnings in the unlikeliest places.
About the author
Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival organiser and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full time in Saddleworth where she lives with her family.
Her debut novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, was translated into over twenty languages worldwide and has been optioned by a major Hollywood film studio. Her second novel, Wishes Under the Willow Tree, is also under option in the US as a TV movie. Her third novel is The Library of Lost and Found, and the fourth one is titled The Secrets of Sunshine.