Date: 10th January 2017
Format: Trade Paperback
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Source: Thank you to Hachette NZ
Zoe and Win are trying to move forward with their marriage and put the raw memories of a recent tragedy behind them.
Their move into an almost derelict house in suburban London is the first step to moving on. Then Zoe finds an old suitcase full of letters, diaries, and press cuttings from the 1930's, belonging to a long-forgotten woman. And it contains something that strikes a chord with Zoe's own pain. She knows she won't be able to rest until she finds out the truth of this mysterious woman's fate.
House of Secrets is set in two time periods and follows the lives of two sets of people, with a link to a mystery house. Libby lives in 1936, she has lost a child through miscarriage and even worse has been deserted by the father and her husband. Zoe and her husband Win buy a house that was built in 1936 but never lived in. Now it is run down, full of dry rot but they have put in a bid and have won the house.
Zoe finds a suitcase with baby clothes and letters and newspaper clippings that sets her off on a journey to find out about the mystery Libby and how the suitcase came to be left in the house. Zoe is in mourning, having too lost a child through an ectopic pregnancy, and almost lost her life as well. Since then things have not been that good between herself and Win and they are drifting apart. Zoe finds herself in tears, Win is his most controlling self and even takes off to stay with his mother because he can't cope.
The story of Libby unfolds as the book alternatively explores the life of Libby and then Zoe and Win. Libby has a tough time and she is a victim of her love for men who do not love her in return. However of the two men she turns to, one of them comes through for her and it enables her to start out on a new venture. Zoe and Win have many challenges in their relationship and in renovating the house. And always to the fore, especially for Zoe is finding out about Libby, as she identifies with her, they share so many similarities that it is important to Zoe that things worked out for Libby.
I liked Libby and Zoe and Win, none of them are perfect, but they are very real and I was soon engrossed in the lives of all of them. The story linked really well between the two time periods and nothing was left hanging. Something I really appreciated after reading a book or two where things were "dropped" but never brought to resolution. I liked the growth of the characters, it felt real and ended on a note of hope.
Well worth reading.