Like her debut Maggie’s Kitchen, Caroline Beecham’s second novel springs from the experience of women in wartime. Eleanor’s Secret employs a split narrative to deliver a historical romance with a mystery at its core. In on strand, it’s 1942 and Eleanor Roy has been selected by the War Artist Advisory Committee: she years to be a war artist, but as a woman faces raised eyebrows. When she meets painter Jack Valante, she makes a valuable contact and a romance begins, only for the couple to be separates when Jack is posted overseas. The second story, in the present day, finds Eleanor’s granddaughter travelling to Europe to help solve an art mystery with links to her own past. Historical romance isn’t really my bag, but Beecham’s easy-flowing prose and astute structure make the pages fly.
Cameron Woodhead in SMH’s Spectrum In Short Fiction Pick of the Week Reviews June 9-10, 2018