Published February 27, 2014 by Hodder and Stoughton
ABOUT THE BOOK: Part historical novel, part modern cautionary tale, MRS. SINCLAIR’S SUITCASE weaves the stories of stoic Dorothea, an unhappy World War II-era British housewife circa 1940, and her present day granddaughter Roberta, a lonely bookstore clerk whose life in 2010 is seemingly stalled. When Roberta stumbles upon an old letter inside her centenarian grandmother’s battered suitcasefrom Jan Pietrykowski, her grandfather, to her grandmother, Dorothy, she’s baffled by its contents. Dated the year after her grandfather supposedly died, it calls into question everything Roberta ever knew about her family history. As she digs into the mystery, Roberta uncovers a secret so momentous it sends shockwaves for generations to come. Who was Mrs. D. Sinclair, the name found labeled inside the old valise? What was her connection to Dorothea Pietrykowski? And why did Dorothea lie about the details of Jan Pietrykowski’s death? War looms large in Louise Walters’s story, delivering an utterly original account of love, betrayal, and family secrets, that lingers in memory long after the final page is turned.
Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is the story of two incredible women. Dorthea’s story is set during WWII. Roberta’s is more current. The two stories weave around each other almost coming together but taking their own sweet time intertwining. I guessed at how these two amazing ladies would come together, but it was not until later in the book that I finally figured it out.
The timeframe of Dorthea’s life is my favorite. I love the 40’s and everything WWII related. I find it interesting to see how the world went on living with such a huge war going on. It is also intriguing to me to see how those who are not “in the war” are coping and living. Of course, Dorthea’s story is my favorite. I loved how she mothered the girls, I ached for the lost babies, and I wished for a happy ending for her.
Roberta’s story was more of a mystery. I felt like she had unfinished history to discover and was uncovering it piece by piece. With each letter, picture, or card she found in a book at the book store where she works more is revealed about her father, mother, and grandmother. I was intrigued. I made guesses as to what she would find out when the entire story was shared. As she went about her life I ached for her loneliness. I wanted her to find out her history, but I also felt she needed to be able to move forward. She needed to accept her life and come to terms with her family. She also needed to open herself up to find friends and make relationships.
The first part of the book is a little slow. Not painfully slow, it is perfectly slow. The speed gives the reader the chance to really get to know and understand the characters. Once you hit half-way the book takes off and the clues come flying as to what will happen with the rest of the story.
I definitely recommend checking out Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Louise Walters lives in Northamptonshire with her husband Ian and their five children. She has written poetry as well as fiction, in between raising five children and earning an Honors degree in Literature over a twelve-year stretch. Louise also worked in a second-hand bookshop where, among the well-worn pages, she found a host of forgotten treasures, an experience which inspired Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase.
Fantastic praise for MRS. SINCLAIR’S SUITCASE:
“Musty books, unrequited love, and old family secrets combine to create a crackling multigenerational saga infused with passion, pathos, and evocative WWII-era historical detail. Plenty of book-club and cinematic potential in this irresistible page-turner.” —Booklist
"A breathtaking, beautifully crafted tale of loves that survive secrets." —Kirkus Reviews
"A solid debut . . . [that] may appeal to those who have also liked bookishly romantic stories such as Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry." —Library Journal
“A moving reminder that history is not just a pageant of world-shaking events, but a weave of individual lives that are often as inspiring as they are tragic.” —David R. Gillham, author of the New York Times–bestseller City of Women
“A riveting debut with an impeccably researched past and charismatic present-day voices. Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is like opening a literary treasure chest, full of sharp-edged gems glittering with all the beauty and heartache of humanity. You’re sure to carry this story with you wherever you go. I know I will.” —Sarah McCoy, author of the New York Times and international bestseller The Baker’s Daughter and The Mapmaker’s Children
“Vivid and seductive, the tale begins in a blazing crash in World War II and twists through a tangle of mysterious circumstances, misunderstandings, and repressed desires. Irresistible . . .” —Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman, authors of the national bestseller Freud’s Mistress
“Louise Walters has crafted a heartbreaking story of love and all its faces.” —Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Sky