Title: The House of Secrets
Author: Sarra Manning
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…
I loved this novel! It had everything I wanted in it – great characters, a plot featuring dual narratives, and a sense of mystery in working out how certain characters may or may not be connected…
I don’t read that much historical romance but I would definitely read more if they were all as engaging as this! I felt that Sarra Manning is particularly great at creating a real sense of atmosphere around the times the two main characters – Zoe and Libby – are living in. I loved the present day narrative which felt refreshing familiar every time I came back from the narrative set in the 1930’s. It’s amazing how different their lives are, but in many ways are very similar, and that’s partly what this novel seems to focus on.
There were times I really disliked the male ‘love interests’ but on the whole I really warmed to both Zoe and Libby, increasingly liking them as I read more about them. Sarra Manning has effectively created a a real sense of atmosphere but including hidden or less obvious objects and elements in and around the ‘house of secrets’. I personally really enjoyed the switch between eras too, though I know some people don’t get along with this type of narrative structure.
I also liked that the plot surprised me at various points; sometimes I thought I knew exactly what would happen, but often it wasn’t as black and white as that. I feel that this reflects real life more, and I really preferred that not everything was tied up with a nice bow…
I’d highly recommend The House of Secrets for anyone looking to read a well structured and beautifully written historical novel, and I will certainly be reading more by this author in the future.
Many thanks to Sphere and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.