The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold is a book for book lovers. The novel tells the story of Chloe Sinclair as she struggles to understand both her past and her present. Her husband Nate has disappeared, leaving only a note behind saying he has returned to his childhood home; the last place Chloe would ever go. The mysteries and tragedies under the surface of their marriage are always present in the story, and each glimpse into the past makes Chloe’s current feelings more understandable.
Chloe Sinclair and her husband Nate connect as children through a love of books, and run a bookstore together as adults. Their love for reading and use of stories as an escape from the harsh reality of their lives will resonate with anyone who loves to spend time with characters in a book. Chloe and Nate’s life together is at the center of The Book of Secrets, as Chloe tries to find a way to overcome the latest obstacle in her quest for understanding and peace in her life.
As an only child of a single mother, Chloe is friendless until she meets the Sinclair family who live in a mansion down the street. As Chloe creeps through the bushes into their magical world, the reader senses that her life is about to change. Chloe meets Nate, Grace and Cecilia, the Sinclair children and their mother. The family introduces Chloe to the Narnia books, and Chloe sees in both the Sinclairs and the books a new world filled with beauty and adventure.
As Chloe tries to understand why Nate would return to a home they worked so hard to leave behind, she uncovers a notebook inside a book, written in code by Nate. As Chloe deciphers the book using a code they used to communicate as children, she is forced to confront their past.
The Book of Secrets is a painful story to read at times. Chloe makes decisions that make it hard to like her, but as the story unfolds the reader understands that Chloe is a creature of survival. The love and horrors of their past bind Chloe and Nate together equally, and throughout the novel the reader wonders which emotional bond is stronger, and wonders whether, ultimately that bond will break.
In The Book of Secrets Arnold does a wonderful job of interweaving nostalgia for the simple joys of childhood with the tension of knowing that in life there isn’t always a happy ending. The ending of the book gives the reader a feeling of closure, without answering every question one might have, which I personally enjoy.
The Book of Secrets is a solid, enjoyable read. Readers will be swept up in Chloe’s journey into her past and filled with hope for her future.