The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

( 83 )

Overview

Set in 1950s London, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope, the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty, Talitha, who lost her husband to the war. Penelope, with her mother and brother, struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home—while postwar London spins toward the next decade’s cultural revolution.

Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love, and when her new best friend, Charlotte, a free spirit in the young society set, drags ...

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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

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Overview

Set in 1950s London, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets centers around Penelope, the wide- eyed daughter of a legendary beauty, Talitha, who lost her husband to the war. Penelope, with her mother and brother, struggles to maintain their vast and crumbling ancestral home—while postwar London spins toward the next decade’s cultural revolution.

Penelope wants nothing more than to fall in love, and when her new best friend, Charlotte, a free spirit in the young society set, drags Penelope into London with all of its grand parties, she sets in motion great change for them all. Charlotte’s mysterious and attractive brother Harry uses Penelope to make his American ex-girlfriend jealous, with unforeseen consequences, and a dashing, wealthy American movie producer arrives with what might be the key to Penelope’s— and her family’s—future happiness.

Vibrant, witty, and filled with vivid historical detail, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an utterly unique debut novel about a time and place just slipping into history.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Fans of Julian Fellowes's Snobs will enjoy Rice's comedic U.S. debut, snickering with laughter as they do. This pitch-perfect tale introduces two generations of Brits, the women of the "greatest generation" and their progeny, and is filled to bursting with dialogue that crackles and characters and scenes so filmic that readers will find themselves casting the roles as they turn the pages.

Tall, blonde, and relatively inexperienced, Penelope inhabits, along with her mother and a younger brother, her father's ancestral home: a large estate outside London that looks like something "out of Thomas Hardy." All is not well in the household, however. Penelope's mother, a war widow, is having a difficult time making ends meet, and their once-magnificent home, requisitioned during the war, is in serious need of a face-lift. Unwilling to dwell on their financial troubles, she would rather head out to Selfridges on a shopping spree than face the dire state of affairs at home.

But Penelope's chance encounter with a social-climbing young Londoner named Charlotte shakes up their circumscribed life, as Penelope and her brother, Inigo, are quickly swept up in a social whirl of parties, teas, and the art of romance. Complete with a requisite plot twist at the end, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is a secret readers won't want to keep to themselves. (Summer 2006 Selection)
Publishers Weekly
An impulsive taxi ride with a stranger in 1950s London indelibly changes Penelope Wallace's life in Rice's sparkling debut. At 18, Penelope lives with her younger brother, Inigo, and her terribly glamorous, young widowed mother in a drafty, rundown, English estate house in the countryside. With the loss of the man of the house, financial pressures mount, threatening sheltered Penelope's family manse-and what's left of her family's place in society. She finds a kindred spirit in the outspoken posh Londoner, Charlotte Ferris, who has a "great gift for circumnavigating normal behavior," when they both reveal their passion for American singing sensation Johnnie Ray. After agreeing to accompany Charlotte's aspiring magician cousin, Harry Delancy, to his former girlfriend's engagement party to make her jealous, Penelope begins her journey through a world of smart parties, fashionable teas and simmering romance. With lan and insight into human foibles (and postwar Anglo-British relations), Rice, daughter of lyricist Tim Rice, ties the Wallace and Delancy families together with a surprising, bittersweet plot twist. Rice's remarkable gift for creating singular characters in this memorable story underscores her presence as a fresh new voice in fiction. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
London in the 1950s comes to life in this debut novel of historical chick lit in the tradition of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle. The focus of the story is Penelope, a reserved 18-year-old whose life is never the same after she meets the vivacious Charlotte. Also shaping Penelope's life is the ancestral home where she lives with her stunningly beautiful mother and Elvis-obsessed brother. The family can't afford to repair the huge home, which is itself a work of art, but they can't leave it either because it belonged to the family of Penelope's father, who died in the war. Penelope is distracted from the trouble at home when she gets involved with a plan by Charlotte's brother Harry to win back the rich girl with whom he's in love. Alas, once the plan succeeds, Penelope realizes she's in love with Harry. Though the novel initially drags a bit, it quickly becomes hard to put down as the reader becomes lost in the vivid depiction of 1950s London and Penelope's romantic world, where a chance meeting can change your life forever. [Rice is the daughter of lyricist Jim Rice (Evita).-Ed.]-Karen Core, Detroit P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Rice's third novel cannot quite make up its mind whether it is a true coming-of-age story or a comedy of manners. The story centers on the friendship between Penelope and Charlotte, two teens in post-World War II England. Penelope lives in a crumbling mansion with her mother and her rock-and-roll-loving brother, Inigo. Charlotte and her cousin, Harry, quickly draw the pair into the London social scene. When Penelope reluctantly agrees to pose as Harry's girlfriend to make the American socialite who broke his heart jealous, it comes as no surprise that the two end up developing real feelings for one another. The rise of the rock-and-roll era serves as a backdrop to the romantic goings-on, and readers get a thorough education in Elvis Presley precursor Johnnie Ray. The champagne flows freely. This glimpse into the high society of a bygone era is charming and witty enough to gain a following among lovers of British literature.-Kim Dare, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Well-bred young people prepare for happy futures. Rice's (Butterfly Sting, 2002, etc.) British upper-crust milieu is similar to that of Julian Fellowes, but lightly and with none of the latter's wit or critical edge. Her gentry, many of them "penniless toffs" in 1950s London, are a mix of bright young things and eccentrics with a taste for American glamour and popular music. Their dilemmas are conventionally of the heart; as for money worries, they never seem bad enough to forbid another bottle of champagne or something new by Dior. The narrator, naive Penelope Wallace, 18 and obsessed with clothes and crooner Johnnie Ray, lives in the country, at monumental Milton Magna, an ancient pile that, owing to her family's debts (her father was killed in the war), is falling into ruin. Swept up one day by charismatic Charlotte Ferris-"no one would ever be able to refuse her anything"-Penelope meets cousin Harry, a trainee magician with mismatched eyes, and kindly Aunt Clare, whose warmth is a welcome contrast to Penelope's own mother, the beautiful but unhappy Talitha. Harry is in love with Marina, who is now engaged to George, so Harry asks Penelope to pretend to be his girlfriend, hoping to make Marina jealous. Penelope, being an old-fashioned young woman, dislikes the deception but goes along with it, then begins to feel she may no longer want to pretend. Marina and George break up, but only temporarily, and Harry disappears. Meanwhile, handsome American agent Rocky Dakota enters the picture, destined to fall in love with Talitha. He even discreetly torches Milton Magna for her when everyone, including the guinea pig, is out of the way. Harry reappears, loving Penelope, not Marina. Brightprospects all round. Breezy, young period entertainment.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452288096
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/27/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 699,933
  • Product dimensions: 7.96 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

EVA RICE is a writer and young mother living in London.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(49)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great read!

    This book is a great read. Once I started reading, I could not put it down. The characters are engaging and the plot is interesting and entertaining. I've enjoyed reading it so much that I've now read it multiple times. I would highly recommend it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting

    Eva Rice (Author) kept me guessing to the very end. It wasn't an edge of your seat type of book but it was a book I enjoyed reading and that I could relate to on different levels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 25, 2011

    Wonderful Book!

    You can read what it is about in the other reviews, just let me add that it is filled with impossibly enchanting people and places that are made so real you want to stay with them forever.
    It has been some time since I read something that so pulled me inside the story.
    Get it if you want to get lost in a wonderful place!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    a book i will always remember

    i read this book a while ago and still think it was one of my favorite books of all time. great story that keeps u interested the whole time

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2011

    A good book in a sea of mediocrity

    I happened upon this book and the only reason I decided to read it was because the inside flap called Ms. Rice a female PG Wodehouse. With quietly brilliant dialogue and characters that were genuine, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets has all the makings of a classic. The comparison to PG Wodehouse was not unrealistic although I felt it also had shades of Dodie Smith's wonderful "I Capture the Castle". Ms. Rice weaves an engaging story with subtlety and humor. My only complaint is that she has not written more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    delightful and charming

    The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice is a book I discovered in the bargain section at B&N.
    The story is set in London, post-WWII. Eighteen year old Penelope, her brother,Indigo, and her mother live in a large estate house, which they can not afford to maintain. Penelope's father died during the war and left them nearly penniless.
    While looking for a job, Penelope takes an impulsive cab ride with a stranger, the lively Charlotte Ferris, and the two soon become fast friends. Penelope follows Charlotte to society parties and even pretends to be her cousin's fiance to make a girl jealous. Penelope and Charlotte share a love of American rock-n-roll which is just starting to emerge, and fashion and fun.
    This is a delightful, charming read, full of quirky characters. The story is about friendship, coming of age, a changing world, and a dash of romance. I did not want this book to end nor did I want to leave 1950's London. This is much more than a chick-lit novel and I strongly recommend this well-written, captivating book.
    http://bookmagic418.blogspot.com/

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    Couldn't Put It Down!

    It made my heart happy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2010

    Delightful Read!

    "A lovely period piece written from a novel viewpoint. The main character is naive, charming, and completely believable. I felt transported to England, and I could almost smell the dampness in the air. There is a wry humor and wit, and poignant moments that catch the reader off guard. The reading may take some patience to start, but it is well worth the effort. I would love to read another piece from the author Eva Rice."

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable Read. . .

    One of my favorite sections in BN is their "Discover Great New Writers" and I'm so glad to have found "The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets." Right from the start, the characters are interesting and you are immediately drawn to Penelope and Charlotte. As you move through the novel you meet other folks including Harry and Inigo, Elvis Presley and Johnnie Ray, and who can forget those "ghastly" Americans. A fun and enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    amazing coming of age story!!

    This book is a modern classic. Like reading "catcher in the rye" from a woman's perspective. It reminds you of the social akwardness of young adulthood and the thrills of first loves. Its characters have struggles and triumphs that define finding ones unique voice and path in life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Perfect for a lazy day!

    This book was delightful and it didn't disappoint in the end.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2009

    Lovely Read

    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It reminds me of the books I read as a teenager. It is wonderfully written and utterly delightful, with interesting and infectious characters. This book helped keep me warm while my power was out in this week's snowstorm! Great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Lovely

    This is a very intimate book, like your best friend telling you every breathless detail of a significant moment in their life. The characters are fully developed and the story is lovely - one to be remembered.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2008

    Loved Lost Art

    I loved this book. I thought it was beautifully written, I didn't want to put it down. I loved the characters and the storyline. I actually decided I needed a pair of Wellies after reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    Great read!

    I loved, loved, loved this book! The characters just came to life and jumped off the pages as I read it. Once I started this book, I hated to put it down! A great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    LOVED it!

    Magical and fun. This is a book to read outside on a sunny afternoon when you're 18. I love Eva Rice's lyrical writing style and beautiful imagery. And the book was just plain fun on top of that, without being completely cliched. Loved it!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2008

    Pleasant Surprise

    I was a little skeptical when I first started reading this book(having just abandoned an awful one halfway through) but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I would describe this book as 'cozy'. It started off a little slow for me, but I ended up finishing the last half in an afternoon. It reads like a memoir and has some romance and history mixed in a kind of 'coming of age' story set in the glamour of 1950's England. Altogether it is a great book for a rainy afternoon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Good read very enjoyable

    I got this from the bargain bin after reading one of the reviews for it and I have to agree with them that this is a great book that I would have overlooked and missed out on. I really enjoyed reading it and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen, this was indeed a fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    Ineresting story

    I'm glad to have found this book. Once I started I found it to be quite intersting. I enjoyed the witty content and the historical background. Well worth the read. From cover to cover I could not stop.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2008

    Amazing!

    I picked this book up from the library after reading reviews about it here and it was absolutely brilliant! I loved every bit of it. Penelope's character was very engaging and had you reading until you finished. It was fantastic.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews

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