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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets


The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

Eighteen-year-old Penelope Wallace is quietly biding her time.
Clanking around the ramshackle, drafty, disintegrating medieval
manor house she shares with her widowed mother, the legendarily
beautiful Talitha, Penelope works part time in an antique store and
takes classes in literature and art in preparation for a trip to

Penelope's somewhat staid life changes in an instant when she meets
the effervescent, confident, utterly infectious Charlotte:
"Charlotte…was all possibilities. She was the sort of person
one reads about in novels yet rarely meets in real life." Almost
before she knows it, Penelope is drawn into Charlotte's frivolous,
flirtatious lifestyle of parties with young London's fashionable

Penelope also encounters Charlotte's cousin Harry, a somewhat
eccentric aspiring magician. Bereft after the love of his life,
Marina, became engaged to another man, Harry concocts a plan to
make Marina jealous and thereby win her back. The bait? Penelope
herself, who agrees to accompany Harry to parties to rouse Marina's

Before long, Penelope discovers that her feelings for Harry might
go beyond mere playacting. In the meantime, how can she cheer up
her still-grieving mother and save their family's estate? In a plot
as whimsical as Charlotte herself, family secrets, hidden loves,
and even an American screenwriter play pivotal roles.

Set in London and the countryside in 1955, THE LOST ART OF KEEPING
SECRETS is infused with the manners and rapidly shifting morals of
that tumultuous decade. Obsessed with American culture ---
Penelope's aunt from the States is fascinating to her, as are
rumors of an unknown singer named Elvis Presley --- Penelope and
her friends stand on the verge of a post-war way of life about to
disappear. Descriptions of fashion, art and music abound. Eva Rice,
the daughter of noted lyricist Tim Rice, has a keen ear and eye for
the charm, glamour and nuances of 1950s British life.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 7, 2011

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets
by Eva Rice

  • Publication Date: March 27, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452288096
  • ISBN-13: 9780452288096