This is Tracy Rees first foray into writing more contemporary fiction, and of course when an author deviates from what they are known for it is always a sense of trepidation that you approach their new work.
For me, Tracy Rees need not worry. This was a book which was simply magical and marvellous and let me escape as I devoured it in one day.
Gwen and Jarvis both in the twenties are lost. Gwen an aspiring writer is lost after losing her parents, she is still grieving and she has taken shelter and sanctuary with her Aunt Mary in the village of Hopley. But this sanctuary is more like a prison and Gwen feels trapped in the life that she has created for herself.
Her only escape is church.
Jarvis an aspiring artist. His first exposure to the art world has left him broken and with self doubt and he spends his days sleeping off the night before and his nights blotting out his days. The village of Hopley is not really the place for him, but what other choice does he have if he wants to stay at his parents.
His only escape the dream of finding the woman from three years previous at the church.
When the local vicar, pleads to his dwindling congregation for help to save the church roof, he hits upon the idea of appealing to all those who have visited the church and maybe left a message in their visitors book. He looks for volunteers.
Gwen and Jarvis step forward; Gwen has been fascinated by the visitors book and the back stories to all those people who wrote something. Jarvis is simply looking for that woman.
This very unlikely couple form a friendship and when they start to reveal the secrets of those visitors to the church they see perhaps that the little village of Hopley might have a new church roof after all. But it is not just a church roof that needs building both Gwen and Jarvis become cheer leaders for each others talents and the future for both of them looks a lot better.
A warm and heartfelt book where I wasn’t sure if I could warm to the two main protagonists who I found tiresome, sullen and quite prickly at the beginning. They both needed a good shake, but how wonderful to see such a small task be able to change Gwen and Jarvis and also my perception about them as I learnt more.
Thank you Tracy Rees this book was a pure tonic of a read and if you want to write more like this I for one will certainly be reading them. A little book of pure joy.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Little Book of Secrets is out now.