REVIEW: Mrs P’s Book of Secrets, aka The Book Ghost
MRS P’S BOOK OF SECRETS, aka THE BOOK GHOST, by Lorna Gray will endear book lovers to publishing history. Stepping back in time was my favorite part, in addition to the author’s ability to make me feel as if I’m viewing it all in Moreton-in-Marsh.
Mrs P’s imaginings lead her on an adventure during the 1940s time of rationing. She always feels a presence. Could it possibly be a deceased loved one trying to communicate?
Lucinda “Lucy” Peuse, Mrs P to her co-workers, decides to work for her uncle while reorganizing her life after her husband’s death. Although she’s related to a line of spiritualists who believe in helping the dead move on, she never allowed them to do that for her husband. She wanted to hold him close in her heart, but not make him feel as if he’s tied on this earth to her.
The book begins with an apt description of the building and the people working in it, along with a quaint sense of humor provided by Mrs. P. It really sets the tone of this novel and made me grin with anticipation.
This is the type of story that leads the reader on a merry chase, adding clues, and in the end, giving some answers, while leaving some up to your imagination. I enjoyed the inner workings of the printing/publishing company, where they print their books on site. The rationing of paper after WW2 causes some problems, which are resolved in unique ways.
Some secondary characters rile up the intricacies of this family’s unusual situation. Lucy was left with her aunt and uncle when her parents felt she’d be better off with them. Uncle George and Aunt Mabel always wanted children they couldn’t have, so Lucy was welcomed more than most children in similar situations.
War veteran Robert Underhill joins her Uncle’s small publishing company and is living in Lucy’s childhood home, staying in her old room. When Lucy decides to return home after her husband’s death, she resides in the attic of the publishing company in order to keep appearances proper. Robert has experienced his own wartime nightmares, so the two have that in common.
A book they acquire for publication has many mysteries, including the author who wrote it. Lucy’s curiosity and need for the truth leads her to many unexpected places. Robert follows along, at first out of curiosity as well, but the two work seamlessly together and form a bond.
This is a cute story with ethereal qualities that will appeal to ghost story lovers. It’s unexpected and very different from other books I’ve read like it. These nuances kept me reading to the end.
Lucy is a deep thinker and can be quite flowery with few words. Sometimes, I was at a loss at what she was referencing. I think it’s done to create ambiance and mystery, but sometimes her wanderings made me want to skip ahead to find out what happens next.
I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s first book, IN THE SHADOW OF WINTER (2015), so I had expectations. Other than historical time-frame, this book is too different from that first one to make a comparison. I enjoyed them both for various reasons.
Author Lorna Gray is extremely good at setting a scene and giving the reader a sense of place in the 1940s. I could hear the creak of the floorboards and smell the history of where books were made. The characters are well drawn with lots of telling motions like the tilt of a head that made me view the book as a movie, visually coming alive.
I really enjoyed where Lucy’s journey led us in pursuit of the truth. Her advent calendar meandered throughout the story, adding something beautiful at the end.
My only critique is a note for the publisher. It’s very confusing for readers to call a book by two different titles. As a reviewer, I requested the UK version instead of the US version, so now it’s hard to know which one to review, and if they’re different in any way. I’m going on the assumption that they’re the same exact book, but just know that I read the UK version, so that’s the one I’m reviewing.
But, for readers, I’m including the book covers and titles for both books in my review, so it makes more sense and you don’t purchase them both in duplication. Thankfully, the publisher sent me lovely graphics to use. I’ve reviewed UK books for almost two decades, so I love the nuances that make them different from US books. I hope you try this one and fall in love with a new-to-you author. At this moment, the eBook is on sale for .99 cents as THE BOOK GHOST, and the print version will be available on January 23, 2020 as MRS P’S BOOK OF SECRETS.
Although I found the characters delightful in MRS P’S BOOK OF SECRETS, aka THE BOOK GHOST, stepping back into the time of book presses renewed my love of all things bookish. Aptly rendered for the book lover in all of us – it’s a lovely way to spend a few hours with the history of books in an endearing story, with just enough of the holidays to make it festive.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of TheZestQuest.com. A digital advanced copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Thanks in advance for following links and sharing this review on social media.
Mrs P’s Book of Secrets, aka The Book Ghost, by Lorna Gray
Category: Women’s Historical Fiction
Publisher: Print: HarperImpulse (January 23, 2020) Digital: One More Chapter (December 14, 2019)
ISBN: 978-0008368258 (ASIN: B07VQY6HJ5)
Rated 4.5 out of 5