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.
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.
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.
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A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher...
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.
Editorial Director, Hodder and Stoughton
|Primary Genre||Family Drama|