The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold
At once a captivating mystery, a love letter to classic literature, and a sharp-eyed examination of marriage, The Book of Secrets is a gripping novel of family, friendship, and the undeniable pull of the past.
After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he’s returned to their childhood town, a place Chloe never wants to see again.
While trying to reach Nate, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside his antique copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Written in code, the pages contain long-buried secrets from their past, and clues to why he went home after all these years. As Chloe struggles to decipher the notebook’s hidden messages, she revisits the seminal moments of their youth: the day she met the enigmatic Sinclair children and the increasingly dangerous games they played to escape their troubled childhoods; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; and the elaborate plan she and Nate devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break away from his oppressive father. As the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will forever shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself.
This book was completely addictive from start to finish. The characters were beautifully drawn; the strands of the story all perfectly woven together. I usually pride myself on being able to figure out plot twists long before they happen, but the ending completely caught me off guard.
The story is told from Chloe’s point of view, leaving us to piece things together as she moves from present day to a chronological account of her life since meeting the tragically troubled Sinclair family. We follow her as she falls in love with Nate and as their life together takes a devastating turn.
As captivating as the story was, the thing I loved the most were the numerous references to books. The Book of Secrets is most definitely a book for bookworms. The impact a good book can have on us is undeniable and Elizabeth Joy Arnold manages to capture this perfectly. The feverish reading of childhood classics, the joy of discovering new books and meeting new characters are all too familiar feelings. Coupled with the tragic, flawed characters and the unravelling story, this book is one of the best contemporary novels I have read in a while.
I give The Book of Secrets 4.5/5
I received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.