I received an advanced copy of Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner as a First Reads contest winner. This book is currently available for pre-order, becoming available early February 2015.
American history major Kendra Van Zant must conduct an interview for a paper on survivors of the London Blitz to finish her semester abroad. When the scheduled interviewee passes away in an assisted living facility, her professor arranges an interview with an elderly family friend, Isabel MacFarland.
The story that unfolds of two young sisters deeply affected by the events occurring in WWII London, and what is requested of Kendra at the end of the interview, is both heart wrenching and touching .
The interview begins with Isabel revealing that Isabel is not her real name. The story then jumps back to Isabel at 15, often serving as primary care giver to her 6 year old sister while their very young mother is out in the world doing ‘whatever is necessary’ to provide for the girls in 1940 London. This less than perfect family is pulled apart as the bombs reach the city, and wounds are much deeper than the buildings that are blown apart.
This story is deeply touching, reminding us that we are each presented with choices every day that may change the course of our lives, and of those around us. We must simply live our lives, making the best decisions we can with the information we have available to us at the time, and be as kind and forgiving to ourselves as we would be to our loved ones.
I have to say, as objectively as possible, this is my new favorite book. This is an off the charts well-written story, I thoroughly enjoyed it.