It has been a while since my last post, I know. But now, exams are over and most of the essays and test are done, so I am back. This time I am writing a review of ‘Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase’ by Louise Walters. Not a book I would normally read, but it looked interesting so I thought I would give it a shot.
‘Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase’ follows the stories of two women from two generations of the same family, alternating between the two throughout the book. In one, the protagonist, Roberta, lives in the present day. Roberta finds a curious letter hidden amongst her grandmother’s possessions and endeavours to unravel the mystery hidden in its words, all the while trying to keep her own life together. The other story focuses on the Grandmother, Dorothea, set during World War 2, and slowly leading up to what is described in the letter, until both stories are intertwined.
As a book-lover myself who would like nothing more than to work in a bookshop, I related more to Roberta. However, it was Dorothea’s story that stood out for me. With foreknowledge of what the letter contained, it was fascinating seeing how events in Dorothea’s life developed to account for what was written. The story felt contained, with well-developed characters and a sense of purpose. I found myself looking forward to these chapters more and more. If there was one thing I did not really like, it was that a couple of scenes felt awkward to read while some of her actions felt slightly out of character.
For Roberta’s voyage through life, it was harder to get into, despite her chapters starting off as some of my favourites. To me, it felt like the author did not quite know what to do with her at various points, instead forcing certain events and reveals that felt unrealistic. Some of the characters she associated with were not quite as rounded as I would have liked, and some had a great potential that seemed slightly wasted.
Disappointingly, the ending did feel a bit rushed and the circumstances of Roberta finding out meaning behind the letter seemed unreal, and more deus ex machina. It was, however, the only part of the book that I found myself tearing up at. Dorothea’s final chapter was certainly very emotional to read. Particularly after reading the few Jan chapters which, while odd in a book with only two POVS until the end, really brought home the meaning of the story. That life is full of missed opportunities and regrets, but ultimately it is the people around you who make it worth living.
Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase will be released February 2014. It was written by Louise Walters and published by Hodder & Stoughton. You can pre-order it here on Amazon.