Thursday, 10 August 2017

Review: The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning

Every home has a story to tell . . .

An ordinary house on an ordinary street, built in 1936 and never lived in. Its rooms might be empty, but this house is full of secrets.
When Zoe and Win, raw and reeling from a recent tragedy, move into their new home it's meant to be a fresh start and a way to mend the holes in their relationship.
But pushed to the back of a cupboard is a suitcase that's been gathering dust for eighty years. Inside is a wedding dress, letters and a diary all belonging to a woman called Libby. And there's something else in the suitcase, something that echoes Zoe's own pain.
Zoe follows Libby's trail from Paris to Spain on the brink of Civil War to secret trysts in London, and as Libby finds the courage to live and love again, Zoe begins to let go of her own grief.
But when Libby's story takes a darker turn, Zoe becomes increasingly obsessed with discovering what really happened all those years ago. Because if Libby managed to get her happy ever after then maybe Zoe and Win can too . . .

Review: I had no idea what this was going to be about because I hadn't read the synopsis due to Sarra Manning being an auto buy author for me. I loved her last historical novel and so I knew I was probably going to like this one too. The premise behind this novel, two women who live nearly 100 years apart are linked somehow and Zoe finds sharing her pain and her difficulties with someone she has never met, someone who is long gone cathartic and healing. I don't want to say too much about the storyline because then you can go into it with a clear head as I did but I thought the whole thing was done really well. The issues covered had great comparison across the ages and yet both women's struggles were easy to relate to.

The structure of this novel is a dual narrative, we switch between LIbby's story and Zoe's story. Zoe and Win are struggling to cope with their issues and the fact that they have just moved into a fixer upper isn't helping. Both sides of the story are third person but Zoe's part is very much about moving on and moving upwards whereas Libby's story reveals slowly, building up and up. Sometimes we have things in Zoe's story that give us clues as to what kind of ending Libby is going to have and I thought the two were tied together really well. I listened to this on audiobook and there weren't different narrators for the two so it was slightly less easy to discern which storyline we were following but it was generally pretty straightforward to work it out. 

As I say, both of these women had stories one could relate to and it is safe to say that feeling don't change and wither over time. Zoe is obviously dealing with some grief and so we really do see her personality changing as she comes to terms with this more and more over the course of the book. There are moments where she suggests that she is beginning to feel more her old self and it was great to see her grow over the course of the book. Libby also grows as we get to know more and more about her. I think that she has to learn certain life lessons and that is sometimes hard to deal with but both of these women start out on the back foot and grow stronger and stronger as the novel progresses. 

There are some sad moments in this novel, some difficult moments but there were also some moments that made me laugh and moments that made me want to say 'go get 'em girl!' which was just a great balance. I had a little trouble with the dual narrative in the beginning, as I say I think this would be avoided by reading the paperback or ebook rather than the audio but the narration of the audio was great too so... I really enjoyed this read and it is safe to say that Sarra Manning is definitely still an auto buy author!

To order your copy now, click the link: UK or US

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