The Book of Secrets – Elizabeth Joy Arnold.
This was an ARC from Netgalley that I picked up for two reasons. First being the fact that I too have written a book called The Book of Secrets and I wanted to see how someone else would have worked with that title, and also because of the cover. LOOK AT IT. IT’S SO PRETTY I COULD DIE.
Anyway, I am pleased to say that Elizabeth Joy Arnold and myself went in very different directions with our secret books. I’ve not read any of her books before but I think I might give a couple of them a go now that I’ve read this one.
Here’s the blurb:
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 their childhood town, a place Chloe never wants to see again.
While trying to reach Nate, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside his antique copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Written in code, the pages contain long-buried secrets from their past, and clues to why he went home after all these years. As Chloe 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 the increasingly dangerous games they played to escape their troubled childhoods; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; and the elaborate plan she and Nate devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break away from his oppressive father. As the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will forever shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself
If you love books, this is kind of the book for you. Each part is named after a different book from Chloe and Nate’s childhood, they run a bookshop and were, in fact, bought together by the Chronicles of Narnia. Also, Nate has a secret code that he leaves in a notebook that is cracked by using different books that mean something to him. It’s kind of the perfect book lovers book.
There were some really beautiful and unique descriptions in this book, so much so it was like following the story along a painted canvas than words on a page. Having said that, there were a few bits of narration that irritated me, for instance, huge plot points were mentioned in an almost incidental way sometimes. Like, there is this moment towards the beginning of the book, where Chloe is talking about how much she loves Nate and their relationship which could have come from a book itself, and then almost randomly, she mentions the Daniel thing (which I won’t just in case…) and I was like, what? How can you just drop that in incidentally? Some of the pacing got a bit annoying for me too at times. There is a lot of tooing and froing between different stages of the character’s lives because Chloe is reliving so much of their childhood by reading Nate’s notebook and deciphering the codes inside, this is mainly due to my own impatience though and at no fault of the writer, there were so many loose ends and twists and turns that there were times where I just wanted to skip the past and head straight to what was going to happen next.
The twists and turns were completely unexpected for me, I know the blurb hints at it and the whole story is about uncovering secrets hidden in a book but when the truth came out I was still shocked, I didn’t expect so many stories to be so intricately interwoven, it was a very pleasant surprise.
Basically, I really liked this. Like, really, really, and I think you would too. So you should get your hands on a copy.