Brought together by a charming bookstore in England, three women fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.
As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature.
Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance.
Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch.
Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.
What I Loved: Harrel has a gift for plucking the reader out of their home and transporting them to a foreign country. She writes as an export. Beyond the fun travel details, there’s a beautiful soul-deep journey for the character and the reader. There’s a dual-timeline here, so the reader is treated to two contemporary storylines and one historical story. The history lover in me rejoices at Harrel’s decision to incorporate pages from a journal.
I will admit that this one took me a few pages longer to get fully wrapped up in, but the dramas of the heart tends to be a slower journey compared to war fiction, which I had been reading a great deal of lately. But I found the characters easy to relate to and the spiritual message comes in clearly near the end and left my heart warm and satisfied.
Rating and Recommendations: I’m giving The Secrets of Paper and Ink 5 stars and highly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction, dual timelines, women’s fiction, or those wanting to travel in the pages of a novel.
~ I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own.