Eleanor’s Secret, the second novel from author Caroline Beecham promises to be ‘an engrossing wartime mystery of past deceptions, family secrets and long-lasting love…’. I go this and so much more from this first rate dual time frame narrative novel.
Eleanor’s Secret transports the reader to London in the year 1942, a time of war, uncertainty and great upheaval. Eleanor Roy is the central protagonist of this mystery, come love story. Eleanor is an art school graduate who takes on a position at the War Artists Advisory Committee. We quickly learn Eleanor has ambitions to become one of the few female war artists active at this time. Her efforts to break into the field prove extremely difficult. Then, a painter by the name of Jack Valante enters Eleanor’s life and he tries to help her cause. The budding relationship between the two is intercepted by Jack’s posting overseas in the war effort. Beecham then transports the reader to a contemporary storyline, based in 2010. Eleanor Roy’s granddaughter Kathryn has been asked to visit her grandmother to assist in returning a valuable painting to the artist who painted it. We learn it is a tough exercise for Kathryn, leaving her home on the other side of the world, in Melbourne, Australia. Kathryn has an autistic son, a failing relationship and a business to run back home. However, the pull to help her grandmother at her time of need and solve an old family mystery encourages Kathryn’s resolve to make things right.
Eleanor’s Secret falls into a genre or category that I simply adore, dual time zone narratives based on family secrets from the past, which a figure in the present day must solve. I always enjoy stories based on old family relics and how these represent the key to unlocking a deep secret. Eleanor’s Secret bedazzled me from the start to the finish. While some readers before me have commented on the slow pace of the novel, this was the opposite for me. I lapped up this novel in three greedy helpings and I do not feel an ounce of guilt in indulging in this richly told tale!
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