08 August 2017

The House of Secrets // A Beautiful Read Which Highlighted Something Rarely Discussed

House of Secrets
The House Of Secrets – Sarra Manning
Published: 10th August 2017 (paperback)
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Historical
My Rating:
Every home has a story to tell . . .

An ordinary house on an ordinary street, built in 1936 and never lived in. Its rooms might be empty, but this house is full of secrets.

When Zoe and Win, raw and reeling from a recent tragedy, move into their new home it's meant to be a fresh start and a way to mend the holes in their relationship.

But pushed to the back of a cupboard is a suitcase that's been gathering dust for eighty years. Inside is a wedding dress, letters and a diary all belonging to a woman called Libby. And there's something else in the suitcase, something that echoes Zoe's own pain.

Zoe follows Libby's trail from Paris to Spain on the brink of Civil War to secret trysts in London, and as Libby finds the courage to live and love again, Zoe begins to let go of her own grief.

But when Libby's story takes a darker turn, Zoe becomes increasingly obsessed with discovering what really happened all those years ago. Because if Libby managed to get her happy ever after then maybe Zoe and Win can too . . .
I am a massive fan of Sarra Manning. She was actually one of the first authors who I discovered when I got into teen books. When I saw this book I knew I had to read it. Especially as it looked to be in the same kind of style as Manning's last book, After The Last Dance. I liked the fact it was set in the past and the present with two storylines in tandem with characters linked in unknown ways. I do think that I loved After the Last Dance more. I connected with the characters better in that and the book destroyed me but this one was brilliantly written and impacted in a different way.

I will say before you continue, this review will contain spoilers and it’s the only way I know how to fully talk about this book so I apologise now. I want to be able to talk about everything. Now, let’s continue.

I loved the present day story of Zoe and Win moving into a rundown project house which was a true fixer upper. Their discovery of a suitcase and a diary owned by Libby was brilliant and seeing the two go through the heartbreaks that they had was amazing. I mean, they broke me, I almost cried at some moments of their relationship. I adored Win and how he wasn't perfect but he was so utterly in love with Zoe and he was so scared of losing control of his life and losing her. He was not the perfect man but he was the one I would have wanted to.

As for Libby and her story, she was fun and enigmatic and I adored her. She loved so easily and even when she was at her lowest she had more personality than many of the men she loved. I felt for her throughout her ordeals and I wished she had had a better go of things in London because most of the men in her life were beasts, even Freddy. She deserved more than she got.

The part of both the stories which I really loved was the fact both Zoe and Libby had suffered miscarriages. Both had lost a child they had never even gotten a chance to know and the way it was written about, was utterly brilliant. I think that is why I adored this book as much as I did. Miscarriages and discussions of the difficulties of both getting pregnant and being pregnant are rarely discussed. Pregnancy is only ever allowed to be a joyous fantastic thing but sometimes things go wrong. There were statistics quoted in the books that mean there will people you know who have suffered and may never have spoken about it because it is taboo. I really loved how it was written about. People were sympathetic to their plight but didn't understand and it was the kind of thing to 'move on' from. No one recognised the connection felt to that unborn child and I loved how it was acceptable to grieve what could have been. That was what stood out me.

Seeing the struggles of Libby and Zoe and Win and how they mirrored each other was truly amazing. I never felt like I cared about one story more than another and that rarely happens for me. I connected to the characters and I wanted them to get their happy ending. I don’t feel like the book went quite where I wanted it to, but then it went the way it needed to and I loved that. I did predict a plot twist, though. It felt very obvious but I still liked it.

As a whole, I adored this book. Once it got going I was hooked and every time real life got in the way of reading it I was upset. It may not have put me through the emotional ringer like After the Last Dance but it did hit me hard and it will stay with me for a while yet.

Have you read this book or anything else by Sarra Manning? Do you enjoy stories told through two parallel stories?

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