Even though I read The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice several years ago now, it never really left the back of my mind. On the surface, it is dishy and a guilty pleasure in the best sense of the term. As easy as it is to write off as a beach read, there has to be something more there in order for it to stick with me for so long. That is partly why it stuck with me: I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is about this book that fascinates me. I finally think I have it figured out. The book itself is set in post-war, 1950s London. While there are still vivid memories of World War II and the Blitz, there is a contagious sense of renewal, hope, and general optimism throughout the book.
That atmosphere, used effectively as a backdrop for an interesting group of teenage characters (Penelope and Inigo Wallace, Charlotte Ferris and her cousin Harry), allows them to shine and adds to the excitement of early rock and roll in London. So much of the novel revolves around the music! Inigo is obsessed with Elvis, while Penelope and Charlotte adore Johnnie Ray. In fact, one of the pivotal events in the novel involves a Johnnie Ray concert at the London Palladium. I can just imagine the excitement and what it meant to be a teenage girl waiting to see your rock and roll idol in concert.
I think that is why I love this novel so much. It takes place during a period of time that influenced the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and countless others. The music I know and love simply wouldn’t exist without the likes of Elvis, Little Richard, or Johnnie Ray. Knowing the history of rock and roll and what takes place in the late 1950s and early 1960s makes this book that much sweeter. I definitely need to reread it.