Katherine Slee comes to the blog with a story of memory, grief, puzzles and metamorphasis in
The Book of Second Chances
A sequel if you will to For Emily, this is Emily’s story after the death of her grandmother Catriona from cancer, and Catriona’s final lessons, in puzzle form, meant to provide Emily with the courage, strength and ability to move forward and become her own person. After she was horribly injured in a car accident that claimed the life of her parents, Emily went to live with her grandmother in a small Norfolk cottage by the sea. Closing themselves off for the most part from the world, and allowing Emily to lock away her memories as she worked to illustrate what would become a very successful series of children’s books penned by her grandmother, Emily has stagnated. Now after her death, and rumors of a “last” story, Emily’s grief and her grandmother’s last will and testament offer her choice. Follow the trail of clues to get her bequest: money, the cottage and the security she knows, or head off following the trail for one last puzzle to work out. In ten days. To a girl/woman who’s not left the village .
Emily had been allowed to push away her grief and her memories, but with the reappearance of her first childhood love and friend Tyler, also on his own sort of redemption tour, the two use a combination of photographs, books, scattered diary entries and plenty of travel to unveil Emily’s last lessons from her grandmother. From London where Emily remembered a visit with her parents, to the bookshop in Paris where her grandmother met and made lifelong friends and loves, through Italy and through monumental steps in learning, remembering and understanding the ties that bind, and the pain, grief, legacies and lessons that exist simply because of the connections made. Emily is slowly, and not without reluctance, discovering the life she led is nothing like a life lived: her grandmother’s true desire for her.
A bit slow to develop, and Emily does get frustrating: but there’s the core of someone special here. From her fascination with birds (and in many cases, seeming to be the bird whisperer) to her artistic talents, the way she ‘frames’ a picture with words, and the secrets she hides within each image –most not revealed until she’s accepted enough memories to come forward and reveal themselves to her. Emily is truly one of the more uniquely developed and drawn characters I’ve ever encountered: and with the connection to books, stories, their creation and their genesis, the references and gentle unfolding of the story up to ‘crisis points’ for Emily when she feels overwhelmed are beautifully created and brought forward: allowing readers to experience the poignancy of grief, loss, friendships and memories, and just how those elements become and fill a life – making it one well lived although never entirely comfortable or without pain. I loved the book, the birds at the start of each chapter, their meanings from folklore and the growth as Emily finds a new footing with her memories, her talents and her own dreams.
Title: The Book of Second Chances
Author: Katherine Slee
Genre: Coming of Age, Friendship, Grief, Historic Woman's Fiction, Humor elements, Mystery Elements, Romantic Elements, Travelogue
Published by: Forever
Published on: 5 May, 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 47 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
A charming, uplifting novel about love, loss, and finding your way in the world, perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Keeper of Lost Things.
Emily can’t remember the last time she left the house. Or spoke to anyone besides her grandmother, beloved children’s author Catriona Robinson. After Catriona’s death, Emily is at a complete loss . . . until she gets an unexpected letter from the woman she loved most.
Catriona has revealed there might be one last, lost unpublished manuscript in her wildly popular book series. And she’s left a secret diary and trail of clues that only Emily can follow. From London to Paris to Verona, Emily traces her grandmother’s past, finding out more about her family — and herself — than she ever imagined possible. Hopeful and adventurous, The Book of Second Chances celebrates books and bookstores, the power of imagination, and having the courage to shape our own destinies.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.