17 September 2013

Tuesday's Review: The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

A Copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher:  Bantam Books
Price:  $15.00 Paperback 
            $ 7.99 Digital
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 

Reading Elizabeth Joy Arnold's new novel, The Book of Secrets, remineded me a lot of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  This story has the same aura of mystery, the same twisted family dynamics, and the same ability to suck the reader into the story being told.  At least it was that way for me.  It was a solid story from start to finish that intrigued me the whole way through. 

The story is told from the point of view of Choe Sinclar, who returns home one day to find that her husband, Nate, is gone.  He has returned to the town where they grew up, a place that holds bad memories for both of them, and where she never thought he would want to go again.  Ms. Arnold continues the story, alternating her chapters between the present and the past.  Through this device we are treated to the mystery of why Nate would return home, as well as the tumultuous history of Chloe, Nate, and the rest of the Sinclair family.  Alternating chapters in this way is a device that really works for this story.  I flew through each chapter in anticipation of what came next for both stories.   And speaking of devices, the way that the author integrated books into the story was one of my favorite things.   Most of the books were old favorites of mine, and as each one debuted in the story, it brought back wonderful memories of my first encounter with them. 


 Another hit for me, was the cast of characters in the book.  Through them I was able to experience  the emotional impact of the story being told.  I felt the joy and wonder of love, the anger of deciet and betrayal, the pain of loss, and the fear of the unknown.  They were wonderfully imperfect  and real.  In the end, I felt like I really knew and understood each of them.  

Although the end of this book was by no means the best ending that I have ever read, I did feel that it was appropriate to the story.  I am one of those readers for whom the end of a book can really "seal the deal".  In the case of The Book of Secrets, the ending deftly answered all of the questions that I had been pondering throughout the story, many of which I had already surmised.   I guess that would be the only negative for me.  As satisfying and appropriate as the ending was, I had figured out where the story was leading long before the author revealed the last peice of the mystery.  What speaks well to the story, though, was that knowing the big twist did not in any way lessen my enjoyment of the book overall.  

Elizabeth Joy Arnold is yet another new author for me, as most of the authors that I read these days seem to be.  If this book is any indication, I think that she has a bright future as an author.  I would certainly read another book by her, and intend to recommend this one to my friends.