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Eleanor's Secret

Eleanor's Secret 2

by Caroline Beecham
Publication Date: 24/04/2018
4/5 Rating 2 Reviews

An engrossing wartime mystery of past deceptions, family secrets and long-lasting love...

London, 1942
When art school graduate, Eleanor Roy, is recruited by the War Artist Advisory Committee, she comes one step closer to realising her dream of becoming one of the few female war artists. But breaking into the art establishment proves difficult until Eleanor meets painter, Jack Valante, only to be separated by his sudden posting overseas.

Melbourne 2010
Although reluctant to leave her family at home, Kathryn can't refuse her grandmother Eleanor's request to travel to London to help her return a precious painting to its artist. But when the search uncovers a long-held family secret, Kathryn has to make a choice to return home or risk her family's future, as Eleanor shows her that safeguarding the future is sometimes worth more than protecting the past.

Eleanor's Secret is at once a surprising mystery and compelling love story.

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Caroline Beecham

Caroline Beecham is a novelist, writer and producer. She is the author of three books: the best-selling novel Maggie's Kitchen, published August 2016, Eleanor's Secret, published May 2018, and Finding Eadie, July 2020.

Her debut novel was shortlisted for Booktopia's Best Historical Fiction in 2016 and nominated for Book of the Year and Caroline for Best New Author by AusRom Today. She has worked in documentary, film and drama, and discovered that she loves to write fiction and to share lesser-known histories; in particular, those of pioneering women whose lives transport us back to the past, yet speak to us now.

Caroline studied the craft of novel writing at the Faber Academy in Sydney, with Curtis Brown Creative in London, and has a MA in Film & Television and a MA in Creative Writing. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two teenage sons, and is working on a fourth novel and adapting Maggie's Kitchen as a drama series.

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  • a wonderful love story

    by on

    “War art was the public face of the warring nation; their visible response to the conflicts and a reflection of their national grief.”

    Eleanor’s Secret is the second novel by British-born Australian author, Caroline Beecham. It’s 1942 and, as well as her volunteer work, Eleanor Roy is holding down two paying jobs and keeping an eye on her fragile younger sister, a trainee nurse. She’s lucky to have work in the field she loves: art. On behalf of the Ministry of Food, she organises artwork for the British Restaurants, to boost the morale of those on the home front; and she works for the War Artists Advisory Committee, commissions from which are referred to by some artists as the Government’s “magic carpet”.

    What Eleanor would prefer to be doing, though, is working as a war artist herself, recording what really happens in battle. But she’s a woman and, at this stage, not even allowed to drive herself and the art works around. But her MoF work does introduce her to Jack Valante, a talented but mysterious artist with Latin good looks, a man she can’t get out of her head.

    Jack is immediately enchanted by Eleanor, but is already committed to work for his country, work about which he cannot even tell his ailing mother or hard-working sister. His work as a war artist will be his cover for certain covert activities but, until his first tour of duty, he is frustrated that he can’t help Eleanor achieve her dream.

    In 2010, Kathryn leaves behind her husband and young son in Melbourne to travel to London. Her grandmother wants her to bring back to her the Jack Valante painting hanging on Kathryn’s wall. Kathryn learns that Eleanor, a long-retired art teacher, has had a purchase enquiry, and is hopeful that the buyer, Jack’s nephew, will put her in contact with Jack. As Kathryn makes enquiries and uncovers traces of the elusive artist, she begins to wonder if her grandmother has shared with her all the facts.

    Beecham gives the reader an interesting tale of historical fiction which includes a wealth of information (perhaps too much?) about war artists and their work. The first half of this novel is somewhat slow-moving. It is not until Kathryn gains access to Jack’s journals that the narrative gains pace and interest. However, the finish feels a little rushed. The mystery is intriguing even if, in places, the plot is a little sketchy, and some parts of the resolution feel a bit contrived. Ignoring this, it is a wonderful love story. Fans of historical fiction and art are likely to enjoy this one.
    With thanks to Allen & Unwin for this uncorrected proof copy to read and review.

  • Love it

    by on

    The person I gave it to loves it can’t put it down!