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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets    by Eva Rice order for
Lost Art of Keeping Secrets
by Eva Rice
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Eva Rice's The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets takes us back to 1950s London in a time when girls swooned over Johnny Ray, boys wore their hair in D.A.s, and rich Americans were a common novelty following the war.

Penelope Wallace had always been a shy, plain girl. She accepts a strange girl's offer to share a cab which results in tea at the home of the girl's aunt. Soon, Penelope and Charlotte become inseparable, often accompanied by Charlotte's older cousin Harry. There is always a party to go to, new records to listen to, or time just to hang out in Penelope's crumbling old mansion, Magna. Even though finances are tight at Magna, life could not be better for Penelope that is until Harry cooks up a scheme to make his ex jealous.

Pretty soon, Penelope is not just pretending to be Harry's girlfriend. She finds herself - although she continually denies it - falling in love with him. Things get even more complicated when she meets an older, rich American producer on the train one day and he becomes the center of her schoolgirl crush. While things do not end up working out the way Penelope dreams, everything does truly happen for the best.

Penelope is a very likable protagonist because she is so ordinary. All of Rice's other characters seem larger than life, but Penelope is very down to earth. Rice even lets us see Penelope's quiet, and sometimes boring, moments alone, helping us connect with her heroine even more. Also, as her life does not always work out as she has planned, we form an even stronger bond with Penelope, as her situations often mimic real life. While there are some sad moments in The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, Rice keeps the story moving, showing - as Penelope learns - that life keeps going when times are rough, and sometimes even manages to make everything better.

Rice does a marvelous job of creating a feel of 1950s London (not that I know what that actually was like but I could vividly imagine it from reading the novel). The only problem I had with the book was that there seemed to be a few continuity issues - a small thing, but something that always bugs me whenever I notice. Other than this, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is a wonderful read and definitely should not be kept a secret.

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