Turning For Home by Barney Norris #BookReview #BlogTour

The brilliant new novel from the author of the award-winning FIVE RIVERS MET ON A WOODED PLAIN.

'One of our most exciting young writers' - The Times

'Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.'

Every year, Robert's family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins - it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn't want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met - and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the mo…

12 Days of Clink Street Christmas - The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp



 I'm delighted to be sharing my review of The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp today as part of the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas festivities. To celebrate Christmas, seventeen very different Clink Street authors will be delivering Christmas treats from a variety of genres that will cater to every wish list! First though, here's the front cover and description,


The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Many thanks to the author, publishers and Rachel Gilbey for inviting me to review The Keeping of Secrets and for my copy of the book.
I loved the sound of The Keeping of Secrets when I read the description, I do so enjoy reading historical fiction set in wartime. Alice Graysharp has decided to look at the effects of the Second World War on (mostly) one particular character, Patricia Roberts. It's a decision that pays dividends, as although I enjoy books with multiple narratives I really relished the chance to get to know Pat - as she is more often referred to - well. The book starts before Britain declares war on Germany but knowing hostilities are inevitable, children are already being evacuated away from the cities. Among them is fifteen year old Pat Roberts, on the brink of adulthood but still desperate for a settled family home. We learn she has spent her childhood moving from one temporary accommodation to another and that she hopes her time away from her mother, father, Nan and beloved dog, Peggy will provide her with the stability she has missed growing up,
'Maybe evacuation will give me a proper home with a front door that I won't have to share with other tenants, I thought, and somewhere to live until the coming war's over without being constantly uprooted. A cottage in the country with a white picket fence and roses around the door."
Alas, it isn't to be and so Pat is forced to grow up fast, spending weeks away from home, studying hard for her exams and living with whatever host she is placed with. I liked Pat from the very start, she has clearly had a troubled life - although we don't find out exactly why until later -  but won a scholarship and is dedicated to her studies, intending to become a teacher.
As the years pass and the war impacts on their lives more and more, Pat has to contend with not only the horrors of the Blitz and the often distressing news from Europe but also with affairs of the heart. At a time when the future was so uncertain, feelings become more intense and more urgent. Pat's love life becomes complex and unsettling as she is romanced by her childhood friend, Bill, Canadian airman, James and young Jon who is joins REME not long after they meet. Pat is a confused young woman, her trust issues and desire for a career in teaching means she has a fear of commitment, yet she longs for love. Secrets, lies and tragedies lead to her being tested to the limit, particularly as she frequently has to endure them while being forced to spend night after night sheltering from the merciless bombings. The ways in which war changes people are examined with an insightful empathy, perhaps actions we might condemn at other times become understandable; when usual fears are juxtaposed with the visceral fears that come from not knowing whether you or your loved ones will survive, compromises and decisions are made accordingly.
 Alice Graysharp has poignantly captured the heartrending reality of wartime, how normal life  - friendships, romance, celebrations, interests, wishes, fears and desires - continues while under an extraordinary shadow of uncertainty and horror. The Keeping of Secrets is a beautifully written book, I was impressed by the historical research that has clearly gone into the writing of it, and the authentic sense of time and place. Wartime London in particular is vividly brought to life. This is a compelling coming of age story, written almost as a memoir, I was transported into Pat's life and mind. Touching, truthful and astute, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Keeping of Secrets is published by Clink Street Publishing and can be purchased here. Don't forget to look out for the other #12DaysofClinkStreet posts too.


About the Author

 Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy.
Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/

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