I never would’ve found out about The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice if it weren’t for Ari of Emily and Her Little Pink Notes. She has been recommending this under-the-radar book for some time now. I saw the premise and was intrigued. I’m glad that the trade paperback edition of the book is available in Fully Booked for P599. I love the cover too, I think it looks glamorous. Don’t you feel like the cover is tempting you to read and see if the story inside is just as good as the outside?
It’s amazing how an invitation to afternoon tea can change everything and yet that is what happens when Penelope is dragged by Charlotte to tea at Aunt Clare’s. Penelope lives in a crumbling, ancestral home called Milton Magna with her younger brother and mother. Penelope’s mother, Talitha, is a sensational beauty who doesn’t quite know what to do with the house and her children now that her husband is gone because of the war. Money is a constant problem in their everyday lives. Penelope and Charlotte’s fateful meeting at a bus stop signals the start of a beautiful friendship as they are both young teenage girls who belong to the unique class of impoverished toffs. While these two girls have very different personalities – Penelope is reserved while Charlotte is vivacious and bursting with enthusiasm – they have a lot in common such as their undying love for the American singer Johnnie Ray, the pressure that they feel to look for a rich man to marry and wanting to buy lovely clothes that they can’t afford. When Penelope is asked by Charlotte’s cousin Harry to accompany him to a party to make his ex-girlfriend jealous, Penelope gets swept away to the sparkling and glamorous world of 1950s London.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. I enjoyed reading about England in the 1950s and how young people are adjusting after the war. It’s a world filled with Dior gowns from Selfridges, jazz music, cigarette smoke and champagne. I’ve always known that the Philippines is heavily influenced by American pop culture and I found it funny that apparently, London in the 1950s was the same. While Penelope, Charlotte and all other English girls are madly in love with Johnnie Ray, her brother Inigo is obsessed with Elvis Presley. Things that come from America are viewed as shiny, interesting and worthy of reverence (even Americans themselves). Isn’t it delightful when you find something in common with a novel set halfway across the world in a time before your parents were even born? At its heart, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an enchanting coming-of-age story spiced with complicated family relationships, newfound friendships, young love and even has a house (Milton Magna) that feels like it’s a character in the book rather than a place. This is a captivating novel with well-developed, quirky characters that you can’t help but like. Highly recommended for fans of novels set in England or for anyone who’s looking for something different.