The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

Arnold_The-Book-of-SecretsI received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“We think we know our friends, our lovers, but really all we know is pieces of them” is one of the thoughts that Chloe Sinclair has when she thinks about her husband. This is also very indicative of what the book is about, as per the name, this book is about secrets.  Things about ourselves and others that we choose to hide from the people we love, for various reasons, which can be shame or trying to protect the other person.

Chloe has been married to her childhood love, Nate Sinclair, for twenty years, but they don’t have an easy marriage. She comes home one day to find a note Nate left her, explaining that he has gone back to their hometown, but doesn’t say why.  Why does he want to go back there considering what happened?  What is he trying to hide?

She stumbles across one of Nate’s notebooks –  it’s written in code, the way they used to write letters to each other when they were only children.  This notebook contains secrets from their past, ones she knew about and some she is only discovering now that she is busy decoding them.  Some of these stories from the past would also explain why Chloe is surprised that he went back to their hometown – a place she never wants to go back to.

Chloe met Nate when she was only 8 years ago, and developed a blossoming friendship with him and his sisters, but there was always something strange about the Sinclair family.  Chloe admired Nate’s mother and she helped Chloe to cultivate her love for books, but one thing about the family that she found strange was that she never saw or met their father, and he was not suppose to know about their friendship. Why all the secrecy? Using their love for books, they’ve developed a code in which they would communicate and write letters to each other.

Chloe discovers that the messages in the notebook is coded using favourite books they’ve shared as children, and in this way she revisits their past, where we learn more about the Sinclair family, their childhood and about the father.  She also discovers the secrets that her husband has kept from her. Some brings back memories, feelings such as disappointment, anger and especially rekindles the love she felt for her husband, but have now lost.

I don’t want to give away too much of the book, but what I can say is that I loved this story!  I love a good mystery, I fell in love with The Savage Garden and I was particularly attracted to this book by the mention of letters, secrets and mystery.  Solving a mystery via letters reminds me of  The Villa Triste, another book I really enjoyed.  The story was captivating, well written and I couldn’t put it down. The book ends off with a big reveal that delights, and yet also brought tears to my eyes.

The last time I gave a book a 5 star rating was in May, but this one is very deserving of this rating.  I highly recommend this book, it was such a good read!

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