Friday, 25 July 2014

Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

Debut novelist, Louise Walters has come up with an engaging intergenerational tale for her first book. Roberta works in a bookshop, secretly doting on its good-looking owner, Philip, when her dying father gives her a suitcase. It once belonged to her grandmother, who had always gone by the Polish name of Mrs Pietrykowski, not Mrs Sinclair as the suitcase would suggest.

Also peculiar is the letter Roberta finds inside which is written by her grandfather and dated some time after he’d been killed in the war. An avid hoarder of postcards and messages left in the second-hand books she sells, Roberta can't help but be curious.

The story switches back to the past, to the time of the Battle of Britain during World War Two, and we meet Roberta’s grandmother Dorothy, living in the country near an airfield and grieving for her still-born son. While her husband is away at war, she develops a friendship with a Polish squadron leader.

Events will lead Dorothy to make a desperate decision and bury a secret that won’t be revealed until Roberta can develop the courage to talk to her frail grandmother about the past. Both women are given difficult choices which make the book particularly gripping, as the chapters alternate between their different viewpoints.

While Dorothy has a tendency to fly in the face of convention and ignores the whisperings of those around her, Roberta accepts second best, muddling along in her job and ignoring her heart. Walters has created some wonderful characters and her writing style shows a care for language that makes for pleasant reading. I for one will be looking out for Walter's next novel.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase

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