Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase

Louise Walters

Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is a spellbinding tale of two worlds, one shattered by secrets and the other by the truth.

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A heartbreaking and deeply compelling debut, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is a compulsive page-turner about thwarted love, dashed hopes, and family secrets—book-club fiction at its best.
Roberta, a lonely thirty-four-year-old bibliophile, works at The Old and New Bookshop in England. When she finds a letter inside her centenarian grandmother’s battered old suitcase that hints at a dark secret, her understanding of her family’s history is completely upturned. Running alongside Roberta’s narrative is that of her grandmother, Dorothy, as a forty-year-old childless woman desperate for motherhood during the early years of World War II. After a chance encounter with a Polish war pilot, Dorothy believes she’s finally found happiness, but must instead make an unthinkable decision whose consequences forever change the framework of her family.
The parallel stories of Roberta and Dorothy unravel over the course of eighty years as they both make their own ways through secrets, lies, sacrifices, and love. Utterly absorbing, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is a spellbinding tale of two worlds, one shattered by secrets and the other by the truth.

Advance Galley Reviews

I keep thinking I'm going to get tired of all the WWII stories out now, the way that I'm over everything from the 'Great War' period, The last one I read set in that time period left me feeling emotionally manipulated by the author, but this felt fresh and balanced. Loved the characters. It had a few debut novel faults in the pacing, but I'd definitely pick up the author's next one.

I will pretty much read anything set in a bookstore or library. I enjoy flashbacks and two stories told at once. Reading a story through letters always intrigues me. So a book with all three should have me raving, but I cannot rave about this book. It is fair, enjoyable beach reading. If the two stories were of equal weight, it would have been much more interesting. Instead Roberta is just sad and rambles, while Dorothy has the strength to be alive at 110. Not balanced. A little tighter story, a more enjoyable or challenging present day character and this story would have worked well.

Of hope and love - which is the stronger? That is the key question that resonates with me after reading this book. In our lives we seek many things. - experiences, relationships, identities that shape who we are and what we leave behind. Mrs. Sinclair, a character that is steadfast in a goal of motherhood and wifeliness, is challenged by the unexpected and made to answer the question, "Of hope and love - which is the stronger"? Her granddaughter, who is seeking the truth behind her Mrs. Sinclair, finds that life cannot be boiled down to right and wrong and that we must be steadfast to the things that are going to make us the person we truly want to be and not a reflection of what the world expects us to be. Opportunity is not always packaged neatly with a bow, but we must recognize it despite its coverings and seize the life we want.

Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters is a strange British novel. Roberta works at Old and New Bookshop. She loves looking in old books and finding old letters and such. She keeps them all. One day her father brings in some old books that belong to his mother (Roberta’s Babunia or grandmother). As she is going through the books she discovers a letter written to Dorothea. It is written by Jan Pietrykowski who is Roberta’s grandfather. The letter was written a year after he was dead (at least when they were told he died). The suitcase has a label inside with Mrs. D. Sinclair written on it. Who is Mrs. Sinclair? Roberta starts looking into her family history to find out the truth. The book goes between the present and past. We get to see what happened to Dorothea and what she endured (takes place during World War II). I like the basic premise of the novel, but not the final book. It is told in the first person with Roberta rambling on (and on and on) with her thoughts. You just wanted to tell her to shut up. I give Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase 2 out of 5 stars. I did not enjoy this novel (as you can tell). It was just not a pleasurable novel to read. I received a complimentary copy of Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase from First to Read and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed this story even with the going back and forth between the past and present. You always knew which time period you were in. There are really two stories going on here and both are well done. Just remember there are lots of secrets throughout both time. Periods. I received an ebook copy of this book from firsttoread for a fair and honest opinion. I loved all the characters. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

This novel features both a modern storyline and a historical one. Roberta, in the modern story, works in a bookstore, doesn't know her mother, and loves finding letters inside the secondhand books in the bookstore where she works. Dorothy Sinclair, during the time period of the second World War, has married to escape her mother's house and influence and finds she is married to a man she hardly knows. Both women like to keep to themselves and are hard for those around them to get to know. This extends to the reader as well. The circumstances in both storylines are poignant, but neither woman has let us know her well enough to feel as deeply for them as we might have.

A woman who finds love during World War II and her granddaughter dealing with life are the two story lines in Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase. For no particular reason, I really enjoyed the part dealing with WWII and was uninterested in the modern plotline. The use of letters brings the mystery and stories together in an enjoyable manner and facilitated the jumping between time periods. I just found myself more interested in what happened in the grandmother's story perhaps because her character seemed to be facing her issues where as the granddaughter seemed to passively go through her life for the greater part of the book.

I do enjoy a historical fiction story, but I felt like the story was swaying too much from going back and forth with the different time periods. I did enjoy the characters, and the mysterious storyline of the letters and notecards. However, if I'm being completely honest I felt a tad bored with the story in the middle of it, and the story got really good towards the end. I do want to say the writing is very good, but the storyline could've had some improvement. Overall, I liked the story, and I'll recommend it to anyone who would be interested in it.

Although I was able to finish the book, I did not really enjoy it. I found the segueing back and forth between the different time periods to be abrupt. The characters did not make me want good things for them, I was not engaged with them at all. Such a disappointment.

I really love historical fiction! That said, I liked Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase. I found Dorothy's story compelling. I could have stopped right there. Roberta, on the other hand, did not really appeal to me. I found her story less compelling. But the choices Dorothy made as a result of circumstances of the war and the time period were crazy. The things that happened to Dorothy literally blew me away. I was caught up in the story of Dorothy and her chance opportunity at motherhood. I understand that Roberta was meant to tie the story of the generations together, but I really would have preferred to just live in the past with Dorothy.

I couldn't get beyond 50 pages, unfortunately. Historical fiction is one of my favorites -- especially when it pertains to parallel narratives, letters, and/or WWII. This book seemed to fit the bill perfectly! But I just couldn't get into the writing. It's not a terrible book -- just not the book for me.

I have always loved historical fiction which is what I would describe Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase as. The book carefully weaves current day life with those older in the family during the second World War. I was confused at first by the past/present telling method used. Once I got used to that - without a title delineating between the two - I loved how the story moved. I think I was particularly drawn to Roberta as she loved books. Old books. New books. Used books. Paperbacks. Hard covered. I am like that and find nothing better than browsing a used book store to see what notes may be found in books people have sold to the store. To imagine a woman in the book living to 110 floors me as I am half of that and have no living parents or grandparents. I would highly recommend this book to lovers of many types of literature - fiction, historical fiction, women's fiction. I categorize it in the historical area simply because a lot of the book evolves around a time gone by.

Absolutely. Loved. This. Book!! Told in past/present form, Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase had a charm all its own. Each chapter begins with a description of notes, cards, or random finds found between the pages of used books. It is here that present-day Roberta stumbles across a letter that she suspects belonged to her paternal grandmother. Confused, Roberta begins to search for clues to her 110 year old grandmother's past. In the meantime, the reader begins to learn about Roberta, her boss, and the shop's two coworkers. Roberta's life is nothing spectacular but her story is interesting and I enjoyed getting to know her and her surroundings. Roberta is a young woman I'd like to know. WWII. Dorothy lives in a quaint cottage and has had one misfortune after the other until a Polish pilot enters her life unexpectedly. Dorothy's story was my favorite, although I enjoyed both. Roberta and Dorothy's tales collide with heartbreak and triumph. Louise Walters knows how to write a story with thoughtful characters that keep reader's hearts invested. Great read! I will definitely recommend this to all of my friends.

The best part of this book is the letters Roberta finds in used books as she prepares them for sale at The Old and New Bookshop. This is, unfortunately, a pretty small part of Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase. The rest of the story is good, not great, and quite slow at times. To avoid spoilers I won't say why, but parts of Jenna's role in the story are maddening and in my opinion unnecessary. Overall, Dorothy's story was interesting and far outweighed Roberta's tale, which felt inflated and clunky.

On the surface, this book had so much promise as the main character worked in a bookstore, and found intriguing letters left behind in old books. However, I found that Roberta, the main character, was not easy to relate to, and I was frustrated by her lack of engagement in her own life. This detachment continued through most of the book, although there was growth toward the end. At first, having Dorothea's story alternate with Roberta's was jarring, but I grew to like Dorothea and admired her courage. The book was slow-going for about 150 pages, but as Dorothea's story developed, I liked it more and found the ending to be satisfying.

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters #BookReview My rating: 3 of 5 stars = I liked it I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Roberta works in a used bookstore. She sorts through old books, cleans them up and gets them ready to sell. Many times she finds personal items shoved between the pages of these books. And that is exactly what happened while she was going through her some of her grandmother's old books. She discovers a letter addressed to her grandmother, Dorothy, from her grandfather. The problem is, the letter was written the year after he was killed in World War II. Flashbacks to the 1930s in alternating chapters tells Dorothy's story. Dorothy is in an unhappy marriage. Her world changes when a plane crashes in a field near her home. Dorothy believes she’s finally found happiness when gets a visit from Polish squadron leader, Jan Pietrykowski. I liked the alternating chapters in the way the story slowly unfolded. I also liked the comparison between the two time periods. A situation that comes up in the 1930s will be handled much differently than that same situation in present day. The writing had a way of pulling you in and making you interested in both of these women's lives. Family dynamics, family secrets, skeletons in the closet – it's all there in this book. Not to mention, I love books about bookstores. This is one I would recommend to my bookclub as I think there is a lot to talk about in these pages.

Wow what a book. I must say that being a part of First To Read has been really beneficial for me because I have got to read some amazing book by some really good authors. Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase is a book that you would fall in love with it. The setting, the characters, the plot, the events, the revelation of history, everything is simply amazing. I loved the book and would like to recommend it to all.

While I enjoyed this book very much, I have to say I enjoyed reading Dorothy's story more than Roberta's. Both women had interesting lives and stories but I found Dorothy's to be more intriguing and was glad that the book seemed to focus more on hers than on Roberta's. It was set in WWII, and involved "forbidden" love with a soldier, which the romantic in me absolutely loved! I will say that it was confusing at times which character's point of view I was reading as each chapter opens with Dorothy's story, Roberta's story, or a random letter that Roberta found in an old book in the Old and New Bookshop. Even once Roberta no longer worked there, chapters would still open with random letters from random people who had nothing to do with the actual story line of Dorothy's past, so it was a bit confusing. In fact, that is probably the only thing about the book that I didn't like - the transitioning from chapter to chapter and past to present was confusing. While the ending left a little something to be desired for me - I won't give away any spoilers - it was still a good ending. I felt that Dorothy and Roberta each found some resolution. I would recommend this book to friends and book clubs.

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase bridged many different aspects of story telling into one successful book. The story begins with a young woman, Roberta, who works in a used bookshop called "Old and New". As the shop receives used books to be sold, she often finds letters, notes, photos, and cards within the pages. Roberta keeps these trinkets from other people's lives that provide glimpses into other people's stories. These little notes that Roberta finds are often presented to the reader at the beginning of a chapter. One day, Roberta's father comes to the store drops off her grandmother's old suitcase that is filled with her grandmother's old books. As Roberta is sorting through the books, she finds a letter between the pages of one of the books. The letter is rather cryptic and is from her grandfather, Jan, a fighter pilot in world war 2. Roberta's grandmother said that her grandfather died in the war sometime in 1940. The letter Roberta finds is dated in 1941 after he supposedly was killed. The find of this deeply personal letter opens up a part of Roberta's past she never thought was in doubt. From this point, the book continues to traverse two parallel story lines - Roberta's and her grandmother Dorothy's. Roberta's story follows her quest for information and discovering the truth of her family's past as well as her pursuit for a meaningful romance of her own. Dorothy's story takes place during WWII and details her struggles and how she met Jan and came to be a mother. I found the writing to be engaging and easy to follow the simultaneous story lines. The character development was well done. The reader slowly learns more about the two main women of the book. Some of the traits that are uncovered are endearing and some not so much. This is true with many people, as no one person is completely perfect. The way in which the characters overcome their less than ideal decisions/situations speaks to their desire to continue to better themselves for those around them. All in all, I enjoyed reading this book. I would say the historical fiction genre is accurate, however the story did not follow the war or events that occurred during the war. The time period was during WWII and the story was focused on the people instead of the war.

Louise Walters’ novel, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase, is a charmingly poignant story set in both WWII and present-day England. Roberta, granddaughter of Dorothea, works in a bookshop and enjoys collecting postcards and letters left behind in books that find their way into the store. When her father drops off a batch belonging to his mother, Roberta’s grandmother, and a mysterious letter is found, we have our story, or shall I say, stories, for Walters alternates between Dorothea’s and Roberta’s. Her technique works well and the author appears to have done some WWII homework in creating Dorothea’s backdrop. You don’t get a heavy dose of history, but you do get a sense of place and time. Roberta’s story isn’t as strong and takes a backseat to her grandmother’s, but all in all, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is enjoyable.

Mrs. Sinclairs Suitcase by: Louise Walters was such an interesting read. I got confused in the beginning because it went straight from a woman who worked in a book shop back to WW II when her grandmother was young, and they never hinted about any flashbacks. I did feel the story was slow in some of the flashbacks, but all in all I felt I was a good read. I enjoyed watching the main character learn about a dear family member to her. I would rate Mrs. Sinclaires Suitcase 4??????'S. I loved the cover of the book it was beautiful and I loved the era of the story. I didn't care for the way the transition from now and the past went, and that was pretty much it. I would definitely recommend this book to be on everyone's summer reading list!!

Will start with the important part of this review....I liked this book BUT one has to like flashbacks. Lately this seems to be the type of books I have chosen to read. In Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase, one moves from WW2 to the present. A lonely employee of a bookstore struggles to make sense of her own grandmother's experiences during the war. Probably one of the intriguing aspects of this...the notes, postcards, etc that start each chapter. The author gives a brief explanation of what book it was found in and what happens to the actual book. Another interesting way of exploring the past. A good summertime read

I didn't really like this book and won't be finishing it. It jumped around a great deal and I found it hard to get engaged with the characters or the central mystery.

This is a poignant and memorable feast of a book that in spite of its relatively short length manages to satisfy on every level. It is a tale that entwines three generations of a family as they struggle with life, love and parenthood. Along the way, hearts are broken, mended with new loves and torn asunder through misunderstandings and misconceptions. Through it all the written word, through letters, notes and books, specifically second-hand books, plays a key role in conveying deepest feelings and wishes to intended and unintended recipients. The author has done such a wonderful job of weaving this tale that it is difficult to put the book down. The story is just too good to interrupt.

I thank first to read for allowing me the opportunity to read this book in the first to read program. This book is very enchanting and grabs you from the get go. The characters are very well defined and even the villains are not really villains. Everything that happens in this book can be expected to happen in a war torn country. Everything that happens in the present day can be expected to happen. How this story intermingles the two is the real story here. Everything that happens in this book could have truly happened in a war torn country. How the decisions that are made during times of trouble and war can define the future is made abundantly clear, often it not the decision makers that have to live with those decisions but the generations after. Though it did not have the happy ending that I was hoping for, I could understand how war can affect a person or persons and how they deal with each other or walk away. War stories are often not what we want, they tend to be sad and lack the ethereal happy ending that we are seeking so I have come to expect it thus foregoing the disappointment when a happy ending is lacking. More than anything this book expounds the theory that our future generations pay for our mistakes and begs to question how they deal with what they are given. Overall a very good first novel and I hope to see many more from this up and coming author.

I had a chance to read an advanced copy of this book from I love the setting of the book how it takes place in the current day as well as along with the London area in the World War 2 era. The story focuses on Roberta and Dorothy and the family's past and the letter that happens to be found in a suitcase that belongs to Roberta's grandmother Dorothy and a family secret that has been kept for a long time. This book kept my interest and had characters that you wanted to continue to read about and connected with. A great summer read.


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