Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

This is a story of two women, born in different eras, linked family history as well as their parallel struggles. The present day story is about Roberta, who is thirty-four years old and lives a solitary life, whiling away her time working at The Old and New Bookshop. Her father comes to the bookstore one day to donate some old books that once belonged to Roberta’s grandmother. As Roberta sorts through them, she finds a old letter addressed to “Dorothea” that reveals her family may have a different history than she had been told.

Dorothy Sinclair’s story starts in a small cottage in rural England. It’s 1940 and the war in Europe looms near. She has suffered multiple heartbreaks after a string of unsuccessful pregnancies and now suffers in an unhappy marriage. While her husband is gone serving in the military, her life changes after a young Polish pilot crashes to his death in a nearby field. She meets his Polish squadron leader and she wonders if she may have a chance at happiness once and for all.

While this is a story partially set in wartime, it is not a traditional war story. These women are at war with their lives. Their war stories are about love, sacrifice, survival, honor, duty, disappointment, and so much more as Roberta and Dorothy’s parallel lives are revealed, giving the reader a complex and enticing read.The storyline weaves back and forth between the two narratives, revealing eye-opening truths and life-shattering secrets.

One of the things I love about a great historical fiction story is the range of emotions that I feel with each chapter and this one didn’t disappoint.

I felt sadness as I read about Dorothy’s agonizing miscarriages. I felt anticipation as I wondered how she was going to handle her feelings for the squadron leader. I felt longing as I read the letters the squadron leader wrote to her after he finally left for the battlefront. I felt disgust at the gossipy women who whispered and shunned her, giving judgment rather friendship. I felt heartbreak as Dorothy managed to move on in her life, dealing with the consequences of her decisions.

But not to leave Roberta out, her story was just as good. Her emotional struggle with an absent mother during childhood, her dying father, and finding her own place in the world was very relatable and I enjoyed watching her character grow.

And speaking of characters. I could see each one of them in my mind’s eye with each introduction. The author did a wonderful job of description and gave each of them with purpose. I was absorbed from the beginning and completely satisfied with how the book ended.

If you enjoyed The Lost Wife, The Light Between Oceans, or The Secret Keeper, I highly recommend this novel.

Hallie Sawyer is a freelance writer/blogger with a passion for history, photography, travel, and books, of course. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and three kids, as well as her goofy Wheaten Terrier. You can find her at her website: www.HallieSawyer.com and on Twitter @Hallie_Sawyer.

Have you read Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

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{Full disclosure: though as a rule, all of us at GNB find our books organically and only recommend books we love, I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I loved it, and wanted to recommend it here, too. All opinions are my own. – Hallie}