Handwritten letters flutter out of old books donated by her grandmother, Dorothy, to the book store where Roberta works. These letters reveal details about her grandparents while simultaneously raising questions. Time is running short to find answers as her father is ailing and Dorothy is elderly. The story is told in the past and the present through the perspective of these two women. When Dorothy was a young woman she lived in rural England with her husband that became a loveless, childless marriage. When WWII began her husband left to fight. One day a downed Air Force plane near her home brought Dorothy to meet Jan, a Polish pilot and squadron leader. They soon became more than strangers. Until reading this I did not know how much Polish people, exiles from German-occupied Poland, contributed to the war efforts of the RAF in England.
Roberta’s relationships within the book store, her father and grandmother make up the modern day part of the story. She makes some poor decisions along the way and, unfortunately, I thought that the seriousness of the issues was treated a little lightly. Having said that I like how Roberta cares deeply for her family and continues to try to find out more about them. I found myself liking the narrative of Dorothy more, how her hardships and decisions shaped and affected those in her life. How different our lives could be if we weren’t compelled to act in haste and judgment.
If you enjoy a book that has a dual timeline, elements of historical fiction, and old-fashioned letters that advance a story you might consider reading Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by British debut novelist Louise Walter.