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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  6,043 Ratings  ·  818 Reviews
Penelope longs to be grown-up and to fall in love; but various rather inconvenient things keep getting in her way. Like her mother, a stunning but petulant beauty widowed at a tragically early age, her younger brother Inigo, currently incapable of concentrating on anything that isn't Elvis Presley, a vast but crumbling ancestral home, a severe shortage of cash, and her bes ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 24th 2005 by Review
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(showing 1-30)
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Mariel
Jun 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rory and the Storms
Recommended to Mariel by: Mariel and Hurricanes
This is another vaguely rip-offish version of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Confession? I'm not original about selecting books to read. I was looking at different book sites on the web and putting in favorite books to see what came up when I came across The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. I'd read all of the books that were like all of my other favorites, except for Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle (I'm still planning on reading the others, as well. Bring on the Elvis impersonators!). I ne ...more
Melee
Before I read this book, I had a feeling that I was going to like it a lot. Whether it was the vintage dresses displayed on the cover or the numerous comparisons to "I Capture the Castle", I am not sure. But needless to say, I was not disappointed.


This book is neither suspenseful nor innovative but I couldn't put it down until I had finished it.
I love the characters Eva Rice has created. They are undeniably quirky, but not so much as to make them unbelievable.
And I was enchanted with the descr
...more
Lara
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone.
Shelves: favorites
I think this book is going to find a spot on my list of favorite books of all time. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I loved everything about it. It reminded me a little of Pride & Prejudice, just set in a different era and with a different plot.

This snippet of conversation between two of the main characters pretty much sums up my love of this book:

Charlotte: "[My mother] hates having me at home - plowing through the books in her library and kicking my heels up at night. She think
...more
Amanda
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What wonderful read in which nothing quite so amazing occurs until you're absolutely, positively addicted to the world of the novel and just don't know how it happened.

Penelope writes her story of the awkward turning point from girl to woman. The minimal tidbits which revealed her older and wiser voice do not overpower the present tense of main story, but rather added small insights about the future.

As characters moved in and out of her life I would mourn their departure, celebrate returns, an
...more
Kimz Zahour
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't say exactly what it is about this book that is so captivating... but it truly is. It's beautifully written, almost poetic, here is one of my favorite lines during a lull in an intense "duck supper" conversation; "Like the curious pause that takes place before blood seeps out from a cut finger, we all sat quite still...".
Flipping through the pages was more like hearing the narrative of an actress like Emma Thompson with a wonderful British accent rather than reading. After a session, I wa
...more
Carrie
Feb 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suggested this as January’s book club book because I was looking for something that was not too taxing, but still respectable, and this turned out to be the perfect choice. It is the story of Penelope Wallace (actually Lady Penelope, though not too much is made of that), an impoverished noblewoman (or rather an impoverished eighteen year old girl), whose family owns a stately home of England, but one that is falling apart since her father died in the war hot on the heals of her grandparents an ...more
Josie
Sep 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of I Capture the Castle/Love in a Cold Climate
Recommended to Josie by: LibraryThing
I knew I'd love this book when I opened it up and saw that the author had written (among others) a non-fiction book titled Who's Who in Enid Blyton. Classic.
It's 1954, and six-foot-nothing Penelope Wallace lives with her younger brother Inigo, and her beautiful mother Talitha in their enormous family 'home', Milton Magna. It is falling apart, yet they cannot afford to repair it, and their financial struggles are becoming concerning. (Sound familiar, Dodie Smith fans?) Penelope studies English an
...more
Elizabeth

I *loved* this book. The whole reading experience was self-indulgent. God knows why I picked it up - I liked the look of the cover, I think, after reading someone else’s enthusiastic Goodreads review.

It is I Capture the Castle Lite. Or I Capture the Castle set 20 years later on, in a giddy 1954/1955 England gorging itself on butter and sugar and bacon and pop music after 15 years of austerity and rationing. The castle in question is the wonderful, decaying and doomed Great House Milton Magna
...more
Blair
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Before I say anything else about this book, I'd like to state for the record that I am definitely not a fan of 'chick lit'; anything with a pastel cover promising a stereotypical romantic storyline usually sends me running for the hills. So when a friend recommended this novel to me, I was initially unsure; but the 1950s setting and glowing reviews persuaded me to read on. I'm very glad I did.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is a real treat - the literary equivalent of a huge slice of chocolate c
...more
Beth
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets takes place in 1950s England, after the war is finally over and people are learning to live again.

That's what this book is about. This book is color and vitality and giddiness and euphoria. Life is an endless stream of thrilling, heady adjectives, a whirling mass of energy and joy and excitement; every occurrence is larger than life in a way that it would be had it been forbidden or impossible just years back.

For careful Penelope, the protagonist, learning to liv
...more
Katie
OH. This really wonderful, but I'm left a little disappointed because the ending just wasn't ENOUGH for me. I needed a little more closure. (view spoiler)

But wonderful atmosphere and wonderful characters. Loved the 50's setting. Just sooooo close to being a perfect book for me, but missed the mark and now I will probably forget it. :(
Julie Christine
This is a delightful confection of a novel by the daughter of lyricist Tim Rice. It's a coming-of-age story set in 1954-55 Britain- moving back and forth from London to the narrator's crumbling mansion home in the country. To call the novel "chick lit" would be to dismiss the wonderful characterization and detailed portrait of privileged young people in post-war swinging London- where Johnny Ray was king and war was a distant memory...for some...

But A.S. Byatt it isn't! It's a sweet, easy read w
...more
Hilary
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Fluff, and badly-edited fluff at that, full of anachronistic cultural references. It makes no sense from the word go (a strange young woman asks the protagonist to come to tea with her, to run interference between her and her aunt and cousin in spite of the fact that she apparently interacts with them on a daily basis); even the title, which is also used as the closing line, seems to have little to do with the story, leaving one with the impression that the author thought of the phrase, then tr ...more
Oodles
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book expecting a bit of fluff...and found myself wonderfully surprised. Not fluff at all but rather a poignant story of 18 year old Penelope of a formerly wealthy but now impoverished family in 1950's England, teetering on the edge of womanhood. The book is replete with marvelous characters, Penelope's beautiful, young widowed mother; her younger musically-inclined brother named after Inigo Jones; her friends, Charlotte and Harry; and Aunt Clare. Full of literary and musical ref ...more
Cristina Chaves
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, favorites
It made me want to get a vintage Dior dress, put on some red lipstick and enjoy life a bit more. Very endearing <3
CLM
Aug 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Atonement, I Capture the Castle
Penelope is waiting for a bus in London when swept away by Charlotte, an impetuous young woman wearing homemade clothes, who needs someone to share a taxi. Charlotte brings Penelope home to meet her aunt Clare and cousin Harry, and Penelope is pulled into a more entertaining world than offered by the Wiltshire countryside where she lives with her mother and slightly younger brother. It is the 1950s, and on the one hand Penelope is still affected by the loss of her father in WWII but she and her ...more
Finn
Jan 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really couldn't get on with this at all, to the point where I had to give up! I even tried reading another book and then going back to it, but I just found that I wasn't interested. it started well and got me hooked and then I just found myself drifting off and thinking about other things... I wouldn't even be able to say what it is about!

I have friends who have highly recommended it, so I'd like to try it again, but there are just so many books that I'd like to read!!
Abigail Shepherd
I loved this book. It reminded me very much of I Capture The Castle, particularly in the way that the big stately home of Magna takes on its own character throughout the story. However, unlike that story, this one has a satisfying ending!
Trish at Between My Lines
This review was originally posted on [Between My Lines]I love books about female friendship and at the very heart of this book is a friendship that is exuberant, fun and full of life. Actually the whole book is full of that too.


First Line of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice:
"I met Charlotte in London one afternoon while waiting for a bus."

My Thoughts on The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice:
The setting of this book is fab. It’s set in post war England at a time of huge chang
...more
Trish at Between My Lines
I love books about female friendship and at the very heart of this book is a friendship that is exuberant, fun and full of life. Actually the whole book is full of that too.

First Line of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice:


“I met Charlotte in London one afternoon while waiting for a bus.”

My Thoughts on The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice:

The setting of this book is fab. It’s set in post war England at a time of huge change. Teenagers are now a thing and they are ready to throw of
...more
Cleo Bannister
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Regular readers will know that this is quite unlike the dark books I usually read but I chose this on a whim drawn no doubt by the pretty cover.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is set in the 1950s where eighteen year old Penelope Wallace lives with her beautiful mother Talitha and her younger brother Inigo in the formerly magnificent Milton Magna. One day she has a chance meeting with the lively Charlotte who takes her to tea with her aunt and cousin in Kensington. Meeting Charlotte changes Penel
...more
Sarah
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this, it was original and quirky and funny and delightful. A lot of similarities to I Capture the Castle, but that can only be a good thing. I particularly enjoyed Julian the Loaf (I laughed and laughed over that conversation when Harry was calling someone weird and Penelope was like 'look who's talking, you kept a loaf of bread as a pet' and Harry was like 'leave Julian out of this'.) I loved Harry in general, he was my favourite character, along with Charlotte, who I pictured as lookin ...more
Chana
Penelope and Inigo Wallace live with their young, beautiful and widowed mother in a glorious, crumbling medieval English mansion. It is one of the last of the great houses and it is falling down around them as they have no money to keep it up. The year is 1954, Penelope is 18 and Inigo 16. Jonnie Ray is all the rage as a pop star, rationing has ended, the youth of England are bursting with life and change. Elvis Presley is about to be discovered in the U.S.
Into this setting enter Charlotte and
...more
Sarah
4.5 stars. I really, really liked this--like, a lot--and wonder why I didn't become more popular. Well, I'm basing my perception of its lack of buzz on the fact that I'd never heard of it, which maybe isn't exactly the final word in things, but even though this is just the kind of thing I'm always on the lookout for, I only stumbled across it randomly on the shelf at the library, and selected it mostly because the cover is fantastic, and I'm in love with the dresses pictured. Then I heard it men ...more
Elizabeth K.
Aug 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Constance
Shelves: 2009-new-reads
The most important thing I took away from this novel is that author Eva Rice is most likely a kindred spirit who has read all the right kinds of books. It's the story of two teenage girls in 1950s London, and not having enough money to keep the family house going, and being fascinated with American singers, and going to parties with boys. It so puts you in mind of Alconleigh and Hetton Abbey and Scoatney but it's one of those things where it never manages to stop being an homage, there's a self- ...more
Trena
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trena by: Book Club
Well-written Anglophile chick lit with some 50s fashion thrown in? Yes, please! This soapy little post-war romance among impoverished toffs coming of age in the time period that kind of invented coming of age is a fun read. Please note this gets four stars within its genre, not four stars in the grand scheme of Literature.

The only thing that bugged me is the author is described as the daughter of lyricist Tim Rice, which, first of all, I'm glad I didn't read before I finished the book because wh
...more
Beth Anne
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i am not sure why i loved this book so much. but i did. i found myself thoroughly captivated from beginning to end...never wanting the to put the book down until it ended...but also never wanting it to end.

i cried at the end...well towards the middle end. Penelope was an amazing storyteller...had a great voice...and a really wonderful story to tell. right from the start, i was hooked on every single person's tale...invested in each of their outcomes.

i randomly picked up this book, mostly becaus
...more
Elizabeth Emily Browne
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I have been really lucky this month as all my reads have been brilliant. Can't wait for the next one.

However back to the book at hand. It was classy and eloquent and I loved everything about it. Penelope was simply magnificent. A lot of people on here are saying that it's like another certain book but I have not read it yet. So for me this was totally new rather than sounding repeated or copied. Had I have read the other book I may have felt differently.

However as
...more
Ruby
Oct 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is probably being promoted as chick-lit. That's at least what I thought when I went into it. But it's so much more. It's a story of love, friendship, music, coming of age, big houses, poverty, a sad, beautiful Mama, moving on after the Second Worldwar and it moved me, for I cried and I laughed and sometimes I cried and laughed at the same time. It was much more special than I could ever have thought. (except for the names. I didn't like those at all, Charlotte, Ha ...more
Misha
I enjoyed every moment of reading this book. It was not just some chick lit. The writing and the story reminded me so much of Jane Austen. I loved the story , the characters ...everything about the book. It had that "feel good " element too. This book is romantic, enjoyable , fun and a must for evry Jane Austen fan!
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Vintage Book Group: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets 6 23 Sep 06, 2013 07:56AM  
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“Men, I thought, were more trouble than they were worth. Really, one should stick to books where one sees the hero coming a mile off.” 64 likes
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