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Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase

Family Drama   Debuts of the Month   Literary Fiction   Reading Groups   Relationship Stories   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   
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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

One of our Books of the Year 2014.

March 2014 Debut of the Month.

This is a delightful debut novel which takes a forgotten letter found in the pages of an old battered book as the start of a rich and enjoyable discovery of war time family secrets. Both Roberta, in the present day, and Dorothea, the letter’s author in the 1940s, are wonderful heroines and the point at which the stories meet when Roberta visits Dorothea in her nursing home is truly poignant. This facet of the story – how we think about our parents and grandparents and how their lives have turned out gives a wonderful resonance to the story and makes it so much more than just a tale of a forgotten wartime romance.

Lovereading View:-

An achingly moving and thought-provoking tale of secrets; told with extreme humanity and compassion. Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase holds a lifetime of memories, lost and found love is carefully folded away while a crucial decision hides in the corner.

Two main stories are disclosed in different time frames, the author cleverly separating the two eras; the first, in the present, is narrated by Roberta herself and the second, from the past is told on behalf of Dorothy. Both women appear outwardly strong, however one harbours a tortuous secret which has been her constant companion, while the other searches for answers from the past.

Walters does not sanction or encourage provocative thoughts of judgement but as echoes of sadness travel across the years, you are left with thought provoking questions about the necessity of secrets and the choices we make.

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'Packed full of secrets and deceptions. I wept my way through this deeply moving story of loss and soul searching.' – Janet Lambert.

Scroll down to read more reviews.

A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher...

Dear Reader

I’m Louise Walters’ editor, and my remit is to publish novels that are perfect for reading groups. That could be quite a broad definition, because of course members of reading groups can read any book they choose to, but there seem to be certain key elements that make a book particularly suited for that kind of discussion. I have long been searching for the mythical Perfect Reading Group Novel, and as soon as I read Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase I knew I had found it. A young woman working in a bookshop – great, book-lovers like to read about books. A second strand set in wartime, featuring her grandmother – fantastic, the smaller personal tragedies of war can make for a really compelling plot. A Captain Corelli-esque ‘will they, won’t they?’ love story – tick. And a dark family secret just waiting to be uncovered – what’s not to like?

But alongside all these elements, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase has that elusive magic ingredient – readability. It’s beautifully written, and the characters are so human, so flawed but likeable, that you will be rooting for them every step of the way. I’m not going to apologise for this, but I should warn you – you will cry. I cried every time I read it, and as the editor I had to read it a lot! You will also fall in love with Jan, and I won’t apologise for that either.

We are all very excited about this book, and were delighted when the US rights were bought by the editor who discovered The Help. I think this book has all the elements that made The Help such a success, and I very much hope you agree.


Suzie Dooré
Editorial Director, Hodder and Stoughton

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

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Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child's mother, it is wrong...Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother's belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew - dated after he supposedly died in the war. Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later...


We have asked a select number of members and browsers to review Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase. You can read their reviews below.

Nicola Cooper - 'beautifully evocative with a melancholy undertone...A thoroughly enjoyable read and a very impressive debut novel.' Click Here to read the full review.

Janet Lambert - 'Packed full of secrets and deceptions. I wept my way through this deeply moving story of loss and soul searching.' Click Here to read the full review.

Francesca Ashurst - 'Louise Walter's debut novel is a beautifully crafted, heartbreakingly sad and compulsive read.' Click Here to read the full review.

Carole Donald - 'a lovely, heart-warming story about family which kept me turning the pages as it switched between the past and current day. With plenty of twists, it keeps the reader guessing.' Click Here to read the full review.

Cathy Burman - 'Highly recommended and very well written. An ideal book to read on your commute or on holiday or just to curl up with in an evening and enjoy.' Click Here to read the full review.

Dorothy Calderwood - 'It is hard to believe that Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase is Louise Walters’ first novel. The writing is very convincing and, from the first few pages, I was captivated.' Click Here to read the full review.

Julie Atherton - 'the best parts of the novel were the snippets at the beginning of each chapter concerning Roberta, we have postcards, letters and inscriptions...I found this a pleasurable and easy read.' Click Here to read the full review.

Jade Craddock - 'Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase is a pandora’s box of secrets and mysteries...the portrait of Dorothy as a 110-year-old woman struggling with the weight of the past is incredibly moving, as too is the beautiful ending. Overall a sterling debut.' Click Here to read the full review.

Zarina de Ruiter -'Author Louise Walters' words are beautiful...there's certainly a solid story to be found within the pages.' Click Here to read the full review.

Margaret Madden - 'A wonderful historical novel that will have you gripped from the start. Highly recommended.' Click Here to read the full review.

Kathryn Murphy - 'an easy to read dual-time frame story set in the present day and during the early years of World War II.' Click Here to read the full review.

Sharon Burgum - 'A good light read across two time spans.' Click Here to read the full review.

Jane Pepler - 'This is a great debut novel about books, letters and a family secret.' Click Here to read the full review.

Ann Peet - 'Great dual time story about uncovering hidden family secrets...A captivating, heart-breaking story. I loved it and will be looking out for anything Louise Walters writes in the future.' Click Here to read the full review.

Jill Peters - 'If, like me, you love browsing in second-hand book shops, wondering who had previously owned the dusty tomes, you will love Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase.' Click Here to read the full review.

Catherine Larner - 'A charming tale of the unearthing of a wartime secret, revealed two generations later with a backdrop of a secondhand bookshop, forgotten letters and romance.' Click Here to read the full review.

Cleo Bannister - 'A dual timeline containing letters from the past set against the background of a second-hand bookshop. Delightful read!' Click Here to read the full review.

Kath Martin - 'an easy read, and in parts quite beautifully written, but found the ending a little disappointing.' Click Here to read the full review.

About the Author

Louise Walters

Louise Walters was born in Oxfordshire and now lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and five children. She graduated from the Open University in 2010. This is her first novel.

Author photo © Ian Walters

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2014


Louise Walters

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Hodder & Stoughton Ltd an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division


256 pages


Family Drama
Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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