(The Art of Secrets Book 2)
By Vicky Adin
Publication Date: 8th May 2022
Publisher: Vicky Adin Author
Page Length: 376 Page
Genre: A dual-timeline women’s historical family saga
A distraught friend, a mysterious stalker, and generations of secrets.
Emma’s job is to find the link, but tracing a family tree suddenly becomes a dangerous occupation.
Emma delights in uncovering her clients’ family secrets and writing their histories. When Jess begs her to untangle her skeletons and find the woman called Elinor, Emma soon learns someone doesn’t want the past brought to light. A series of threats puts her in danger, and Emma suspects there is more to her friend’s frazzled plea.
Elinor only wants one thing from life – a home and hearth where she can dispense love and laughter. Undeterred by the hardships of life between the two world wars, Elinor raises a large family and survives everything fate throws her way. Neither deprivation nor heartache prevents her from protecting those she loves. But is what she yearns for a step too far?
Intrigued by Elinor’s story, Emma is determined to find out who is causing trouble, and why, before it’s too late.
Family life adversities and tragedies.
When Emma arrived at Jess’s family home the next morning, she was captivated by its old-world charm. The house was a typical Californian bungalow of the 1920s, set on a large section, with a white picket fence and a central pathway leading to the front door. The garden was a riot of colour, out-of-control roses and cottage garden plants.
“Are you ready to do this?” asked Emma, thinking how pale and drawn Jess looked as she answered the door, as if she hadn’t slept well.
“I have to get it finished. That impossible sister of mine is wanting rid of everything, even though it’s half mine. Come on, let’s get on with it.”
They spent the next few hours loading Emma’s car with bags that she had offered to drop off at the hospice; those destined for the rubbish dump went into Jess’s.
“I’d better call the auctioneers and see if they want any of this other stuff,” said Jess, sounding unenthusiastic.
Looking around the rooms of furniture, lamps and ornaments, Emma was saddened that so many mementos would go to the second-hand shops to be disposed of, and any link with their previous owners would be gone. But she had to remember that not everyone was as nostalgic as her. Sometimes she felt more attuned to the past and people she’d never known than to many of the people she met in her current life.
Except for Luke. He understood. She’d had so little growing up, and lost so much in such a short space of time, long before they’d met, that it wasn’t a surprise she hung on to sentimental objects.
“Let’s clear the table and spread everything out until we can make sense of it,” said Emma, putting a pile of photos on the table and roughly sorting them into recognisable groups.
They pulled out the remaining drawers in the drop-front writing desk and put the more-important-looking papers on the table.
“What do you want to do about all these receipts?” asked Emma.
“Dump them. They’re old.”
“Are you sure? There could be clues to your dad’s life amongst them.”
“Nah. Get rid of them. It’s what she wants.”
Emma wondered why Jess was being so compliant with her sister’s wishes. “Do you?”
Jess shrugged as she added a few more handwritten letters to the box she’d started to fill. “Dunno what I’ll do with this lot. I doubt they’ll say anything interesting.”
“How do you know? They could be a gold mine of dates and names.”
“Maybe. But will they help me find my grandmothers – or whoever they were?”
“They might. I’d suggest you sort those letters into date order, and glance through them first. See what’s there.”
Jess took a handful from the box and began to place the letters into piles in decade order. “There’s a couple here from way back, a few in the ’30s and ’40s, but most are later.”
“What’s this?” asked Emma. The desk appeared empty, but she spotted a small drawer in the top section that had been missed, and pulled the knob. “It’s locked. Have you seen a key anywhere?”
Jess came to peer over her shoulder. “Is it? There’s no obvious keyhole.”
“Maybe it’s stuck.” Emma ran her hand along the front and sides, pushing and prodding. “Got it,” she said, pressing on a tiny lever at the back. The drawer popped open. Inside lay a fat envelope full of bits of paper and family notices. She handed it to Jess. “I think we may have found something.”
Emma noticed the front panel of the shallow drawer in the middle had extensions on either side. She pulled the drawer from its surrounds and, as she did, the entire front section slid out to reveal another set of letter slots and drawers behind. “Oh, wow! This is amazing. I didn’t expect that. I’ve read about these secret cubbyholes but never seen one. What a treat.”
Emma was eager to investigate further. Her love of antiques was almost as deep as her love of tracing family histories. “See how the drawer and the front set of racks are half the depth of the side? I hadn’t noticed. This could be where your dad hid all his secrets.”
The two women stared at the back section of tall narrow slots, which held several envelopes, and a centre section with three small drawers.
“Oh, Jess, this is beautiful. You can’t sell this. It’s so special.”
A strangled gasp escaped Jess, and Emma turned to see what was wrong. Jess held her hands over her mouth, her eyes goggling. Not for the first time, Emma wondered what else was bothering Jess. It couldn’t just be a bunch of old papers.
“Dad built that desk. A long time ago. I remember …”
“That’s wonderful. Are you positive you don’t want to keep it? If it was precious to your dad, maybe it’s tied to your past and might reveal the ‘indomitable Elinor Somers’.”
Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words. She has combined her skills to write heart-warming novels about early immigrants to New Zealand, weaving family and history together in a way that brings the past to life. Her passion is for multi-generational sagas linked by journals, letters and heirlooms.
As a Welsh-born, Cornish raised immigrant to New Zealand herself, Vicky is fascinated by those women who undertook such hazardous journeys to find a better life; women who endured and thrived.
She invites you to journey alongside those women as they created a new life, or follow their descendants as they uncover the long lost secrets of bygone days while searching for their roots.
Become engrossed in The New Zealand Immigrant Collection, suspenseful family saga fiction uncovering the mysteries, the lies and the challenges of the past. And delve into the secrets of the past in The Art of Secrets series.
Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. She is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories, and loves to travel. She especially enjoys caravanning around New Zealand with her husband and biggest fan; and spending time with her family.
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