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Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,763 ratings  ·  682 reviews
Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child's mother, it is wrong...

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother's belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew - dated after he supposedly died in the war.

Hardcover, 296 pages
Published February 27th 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton
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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,763 ratings  ·  682 reviews

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Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Highly Recommended
I am a REALLY nervous automobile passenger.

• I feel compelled to mention to my husband whenever I see brake lights ahead of us on the expressway, just so he can be "ready" to stop - even if that car is 15 vehicles ahead of us.

• My left foot is constantly pressing on an imaginary brake pedal, especially after my husband chooses not to heed my words of warning about aforementioned brake lights, and instead feels the need to zoom up to the car ahead of us.

• I tend to emit loud involuntarily gasp
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2015
Ok, so I love WWII stories, grandmothers, and the secrets they keep. This story had that, plus, having the advantage of the protagonist working in a bookstore and her love for literature and finding lost letters found in books. (I can see myself being the same way. Wondering who wrote them & what their lives were like.) So with having all that I should have loved this novel but I can honestly say, that I just found it ok. I really enjoyed Dorothy's story better, which is the one that was set ...more
Absolutely. Loved. This. Book!!

Told in past/present form, Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase had a charm all its own. Each chapter begins with a description of notes, cards, or random finds found between the pages of used books. It is here that present-day Roberta stumbles across a letter that she suspects belonged to her paternal grandmother. Confused, Roberta begins to search for clues to her 110 year old grandmother's past. In the meantime, the reader begins to learn about Roberta, the bookshop she lo
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are three things which attracted me to this book. Firstly, it's a book with a picture of beautiful old books on the front. Guaranteed to make a true book lover swoon. It's main character also works in a book shop and part of the story is set there. Finally, it's a story that intermingles past and present. My very favourite kind.

And oh how I did love it every bit as much as I hoped. Weaving the stories of two woman and spanning eighty years, this is beautifully written and at times achingly
Dale Harcombe
The opening of a letter from 1941 found inside a book had me immediately interested. I wanted to know more about Dorothea and Jan Pietrykowski, even though I had my own thoughts about what might have happened, which were not far from the truth. Books with family secrets nearly always make for good reading. I liked the premise of Roberta who finds the letter in the course of her work at the Old and New Bookshop and the way a number of the chapters begin with another letter or postcard found insid ...more
Dana Stabenow
May 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
When the wannabe boyfriend turned into a millionaire duke or whatever he was...yeah. This is a story of two totally dysfunctional, purposeless, defined-by-men women. If you like that kind of thing, go for it. I had more respect for and more interest in Anna, who I should have loathed for abandoning her husband and daughter without so much as a by-your-leave.
Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)
T/W- Rape, Abortion

This was a book that my boyfriend found one day in his hometown, that had been placed by the Book Fairies!

A historical fiction novel but with two POVs of two women, one from the 1940s and the other from the present day really got me interested in giving this novel a try. The main character from the present day Roberta works in a secondhand bookshop and loves to find old letters and postcards that have been tucked away in books. The other main character from the 1940s called D
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like this style of story and for me this was certainly a quick easy read. I thought some of the characters could have been better developed and would have liked to know what happened to others. But for the narrator to know this would have changed their story.
Margaret Madden
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Thanks to for the review copy of this book.

This historical novel tells two different stories.
Roberta, who works in The Old and New BookShop, loves finding treasures in second hand books. Old photos, letters and cards are regular finds and she keeps each one for her own collection. When she is given an old suitcase belonging to her grandmother, she discovers a letter signed by her grandfather, but it doesn't seem to make sense. It is dated after his supposed death i
Apr 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
If I had to find a single word for this novel, I would choose insipid. The story line, writing style, characters, plot resolution, were all notably bland. In 1940 England, a handsome, intelligent, gregarious, kind 30 year old Polish fighter pilot knocks on the farmhouse door of a dowdy, reclusive, depressed housekeeper 10 years his senior and the two fall instantly in love. Although his squad is transferred a short time after their momentous meeting, the single night of passionate love making aw ...more
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This historical novel takes a strand from the past and the present and weaves them together into an enjoyable tale. Roberta works at the Old and New Bookshop, where she enjoys keeping all the letters and notes she finds inside the second hand books she sells. One day her father brings a suitcase full of books belonging to her elderly grandmother, Dorothea, who has recently gone to live in a care home. Inside one of the books she finds an intriguing letter from her grandfather, who she had been t ...more
Martine Bailey
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I so much enjoyed this powerful dual timeline novel as it moves smoothly between contemporary life in a bookshop and the life of lonely but noble Dorothea living through the second world war. The sensitive prose transports the reader directly to the emotional crux of events – and there are many heart-felt moments to enjoy. The themes of letters slipped into abandoned books, secrets kept long hidden, and sacrifice for overpowering love, were beautifully handled. There was a sincerity to this book ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a terrific, sweet mystery about a wartime (WWII) romance. The plot unfolds via the adult granddaughter who works in a bookshop and has her own relationship issues. Really well written and very hard to put down.
A novel of family secrets that will please bibliophiles and history buffs alike.

First we meet Roberta, in her early thirties, who works at “The Old and New”, a bookshop who struggles to make a profit. She was hired by the owner, Philip to aid him in the shop. Roberta lives alone with her cat, and has little in the way of a social life. Her mother left the family when Roberta was small and she was brought up by her father (now terminally ill) and her grandmother. She collects letters and other ob
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase is packed full of secrets and deceptions. I wept my way through this deeply moving story of loss and soul searching, with a soggy tissue clutched in my palm.

It’s a dual time narrative (which I must admit I have a special fondness for, possibly as I can never decide whether I most love historical fiction or contemporary) Told from the modern day perspective of Roberta, whom I didn’t really warm to and the second world war era events in the life of Dorothy with whom I felt
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chic-lit
I LOVED reading this book! It’s so sweet! It would be an awesome book club read because of difficult choices made by the female characters. It’s historical fiction (WWII); one of the main characters works in a bookshop that houses antique and new books. I do enjoy reading books about characters that love books as much as I do.

It’s a story of a 34-year-old woman, Roberta, who works at a bookstore that takes used and older books. In her job, she peruses each book to determine value; she often find
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
This promised to be my kind of book from the blurb and the cover. I loved the idea of finding forgotten letters and notes in books but the love of books did not shine through in my opinion though one of the settings is a bookshop.I am also quite partial to stories set in the World Wars and I did enjoy this strand more.Just didn't quite work for me.Once again the writing and language used was nearly there but seemed to just not quite gel.On the other hand I am sure lots of people will find this b ...more
Louise Beech
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. I devoured it in three days. I'm a huge fan of letters as a storytelling device, and adore stories where past and present merge, especially when it is so well done, as here. The characters are painted so well, with truthful colours - they're flawed, human and fascinating. All the little details and the gorgeous prose meant this was a rich and satisfying read. So looking forward to Louise's next book.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a gem of a story. It's beautifully written and cleverly weaves the story of Dorothy with that of her granddaughter, Roberta. The use of the letters and the narrative take us through the sadness and loss of both women but ultimately they both find joy and peace. I loved it from start to finish and will look forward to reading more from this author.
Renita D'Silva
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this beautiful book of secrets and love and loss and forgiveness and acceptance.
Cleopatra  Pullen
At the beginning of World War II Dorothy is hanging out washing when an aeroplane crashes into a field behind her house. Alone and aloof Dorothy opens her heart to the possibility of happiness when Jan Pietrykowski, the Polish Squadron Leader comes to visit her following the crash, but how does this link to the letter found amongst her grandmother’s belongings?

This book has letters, a mystery in the form of a family secret and a bookshop; everything I love reading about! There are intrigues in t
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Roberta works in a book shop which sells both second hand and new books. She loves going through the second hand books for the things people have left in as bookmarks – children’s drawings, shopping lists, letters, train tickets etc. She likes to imagine the people they belonged to.

Her father takes her a suitcase which belonged to his mother – now aged over one hundred and in a nursing home. Tucked into one of the books in the suitcase is a letter which will overturn everything Roberta knows ab
another from the secret family history that comes unexpectedly to light sub-genre - which I actually quite like when the prose and characters work for me - and another one I opened and couldn't put down until the end; the opening is precisely how such books should be done - establish the hook immediately not meander for pages and pages as in a recent similar debut I had high hoped but did not work out - and then the storyline just rolls; again there is a lot of predictability after a while, and ...more
Susan Liston
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
Anything set in a bookstore is always going to get my attention. So this story had promise. But...although it wasn't terrible, the whole thing just didn't end up amounting to much. The "dark secret" wasn't, and the two main characters were both somewhat dour, humorless, hand-wringy types, without much personality. The classic two star book for me...not bad enough to get worked up about, not good enough to remember.
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the first 75 pages twice. Once before book club and then I started completely over after the discussion and loved it. I think it was a bit hard to follow who the characters were and what era they were in at first. I started writing down names and how they were related. That helped a lot. The story is a great book club book and one everyone enjoyed in my group including me!
Izabella (Pages Full of Stars)
"Books smell, they creak, they talk. You hold in your hand now a living, breathing, whispering thing, a book."

~OWL's Magical Readathon 2019 - Transfiguration - Red cover ★ ~
~ Pop Sugar 2019 Reading Challenge - A Book You Meant to Read in 2018 ★ ~

1,5 stars

I do adore books with dual timelines and I'm willing to read any book set in a bookshop, but overall, this one really disappointed me and just wasn't my cup of tea in the end. I found it quite hard to connect to the main characters and their
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, audio-book
I listened to this audio. The narrator was pretty good! I liked the past flashbacks so much better than the present though. Oh, Dorothy, you are such a martyr! I can't stand thinking about Nina. Kept the rating from 5 stars for me. Sorry, just couldn't help it.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

"I find things hidden in books: dried flowers, locks of hair, tickets, labels, receipt, invoices, photographs, postcards, all manner of cards. I find letters, unpublished works by the ordinary, the anguished, the illiterate. Clumsily written or eloquent, they are love letters, everyday letters, secret letters and mundane letters talking about fruit and babies and tennis matches, from people signing themselves as Majorie or Jean....I can't bring myself to dispose of these snippets and snapshots o
From description this should have been a book I would love. Unfortunately, that was not the case. It was hard to garner anything but distaste for the main characters. Well, actually just about everyone in the story was mean- spirited, rude, snotty, and on the haughty side. Needless to say I didn't much care for the character building. The story itself was for the most part interesting. It really could have been a much better story.

(Slight spoiler, in the next sentence)

The ending made no sense t
Dec 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Roberta is 34 years old, lives alone and loves working in the Old and New Bookshop, she finds things in books such as postcards, locks of hair, letters, receipts etc. and she keeps most of them, she finds it hard to dispose of these memories. She also loves old suitcases and is thrilled when her father gives her her grandmother's old suitcase. When she discovers in it an old letter dated February 1941 she is intrigued

This is a dual narrative story going back and forth from the present to the Sec
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Review 4 27 Jul 06, 2017 02:43PM  
Around the Year i...: Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase, by Louise Walters 3 15 Jun 06, 2017 06:56AM  
Henry Stokes Book...: Questions for Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase 1 22 Sep 22, 2014 06:42AM  

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Author of three novels: Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase, A Life Between Us and The Road to California. Also a publisher at Louise Walters Books.
“I find things hidden in books: dried flowers, locks of hair, tickets, labels, receipt, invoices, photographs, postcards, all manner of cards. I find letters, unpublished works by the ordinary, the anguished, the illiterate. Clumsily written or eloquent, they are love letters, everyday letters, secret letters and mundane letters talking about fruit and babies and tennis matches, from people signing themselves as Majorie or Jean....I can't bring myself to dispose of these snippets and snapshots of lives that once meant (or still do mean) so much.” 19 likes
“I knew you were for all time, even as there is no time.” 2 likes
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