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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  • This one sounds really great! I will have to check it out soon 🙂

    • Thanks Christine, it was such a good read!

  • Looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the great review.

    • Thank you. I hope you do!

  • Chantal

    Hmm, this makes me want to read more about the book, I’m going to purchase it online tonight! 🙂

    • I’m glad and I hope you enjoy it!

  • Great review- i also loved this book. I am intrigued that you referenced The Savage Garden-I have that one waiting for me on my kindle!

    • Yeah I absolutely loved The Savage Garden and I referenced it because it was a good mystery (even better than this one). The stories are very different though.

      I’m glad that you also liked this book 🙂 Looking forward to your review on The Savage Garden.

  • I LOVE this book. It was one of the first five-star books I read in a long time (I’m stingy with my 5 stars). I’m so glad you got around to reading and and loved it as much as I did! I had a feeling you would because, unlike a certain someone we know, you and I love these kinds of books!

    • After reading your review, I bumped it up higher on my TBR list and I’m so glad I did. I ofcourse knew I was going to like it, because we like similar books (PS Goodreads says we have 85% similar tastes ;))

      I hope that certain someone will like this one. If she has it. It was a great read. I’m also stingy with my five-stars.

  • I would love to read this one. Still looking for the one book we are so fighting over 🙂 This book has the exact same cover as The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern, guess that is why i thought it looked so familiar.

    • I hope you do, and I hope you find that other book!
      I just googled The Book of Tomorrow, you are right. Very similar colours, but I think Ahern’s book is more pink. This book was great!

  • I’m trying to expand my reading list and your blog is so helpful Mel. I like the sound of this book. – Ali

    • Thanks for the compliment, Ali. The name was one of the things that attracted me to the book.

  • Lovely review. I really enjoyed to use of the children’s books and wanted to read them. The end was really well done and it surprised me a lot.

    • Thanks Ciska. I have never read Narnia, can you believe it? This book was surprisingly enjoyable. Some gems there on Netgalley 🙂

  • Sounds like a great book with all the ingredients I like. Wonderful review

  • I am definitely intrigued! So glad you stopped by my post; we book musers must stick together 😉

    • I agree, I love to interact with fellow book bloggers! I will read Sarah’s Key soon… I have it on my Kindle actually. This was a good Netgalley pick and such a good read (for me at least)

  • litandlife

    Five stars? That always gets my attention! I know how few books I rank that high so I know the kind of impression this had to have made.

    • I didn’t have any high expectations, but then I saw 2 of my favourite book bloggers give it high ratings so I just had to read it. It was a nice mystery story, really enjoyed it.

  • While this isn’t necessarily a book I would pick up on my own, I would pick it up knowing that you gave it a five star rating!

    • Thanks Rebecca. I’m glad I picked it up – Allison and Ciska enjoyed it as well and when I saw their reviews I had to read it.

  • Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    I’ve been debating myself about this one. Should I read it? Maybe not? But your 5 star rating has given me the push I need to put it on the wish list 😉

    • If you love mysteries and stories (and the unravelling) of family secrets then you should give this one a go, Jennifer 🙂

      Ps: Have you seen Allison and Ciska’s review? They loved it too

  • I’ve seen so many great reviews on this one but just haven’t been able to find the time to read it yet. So glad you enjoyed it!

    • It was a good read. If you have it and eventually decide to read it, then I hope you will enjoy is as much as we did!

  • Thank you for your beautiful review 🙂 I will definitely read this novel. I also want to read Pieces of my sister’s life.

    • Thanks. It was such a nice read! I will look up “Pieces of my sister’s life”.

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