BOOK CLUB: Eleanor’s Secret

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Author: Caroline Beecham
ISBN: 978-1-76029-566-0
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Eleanor’s Secret is the sophomore novel of bestselling author Caroline Beecham, also set in war-torn London in 1942. I had big plans to have this one read and reviewed ready for the post to go live today but my strong start to the month fizzled quick. I have started reading it, and hope to have a complete review this week.

Caroline Beecham returns to London in 1942 where Eleanor Roy, art school graduate, is working for the War Artist Advisory Committee. Her dream is to become one of the few female war artists but breaking into the art establishment is still easier dreamed than done.

Eleanor is working with the Ministry of Food to organise artworks to decorate the British Restaurants that are keeping the citizens fed and aiming to help with morale. One of the artists she is sent to sign is Jack Valante, who won’t sign the contract and when Eleanor returns to try again he seems to have disappeared.

This novel is a dual timeline narrative with a compelling love story and a surprising mystery. The dual timeline is a great storytelling tool when you have a mystery to unfold.

Fast forward to Melbourne in 2010 and Kathryn has been asked by her grandmother, Eleanor, to help her return a painting to its artist in London. The search unearths a long held family secret and Kathryn is left trying to decide whether she races straight home to address the issues in her own immediate family or stay and help protect the past.

Caroline Beecham writes well researched and authentic historical tales that draw you right into the London she describes. I quite enjoyed Maggie’s Kitchen and I can’t wait to really sink myself into Eleanor’s Secret.

Caroline Beecham can be followed on and Twitter.

Eleanor’s Secret is published by Allen & Unwin and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 50 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Eleanor’s Secret so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

44 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Eleanor’s Secret

  1. Thankyou to Beauty and lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham .

    The story is told in two time lines.
    In London 1942 Eleanor Roy joined the War Artist Advisory Committee. Her job was to sign artists to sketch, draw and paint the war, so that every one at home could see what their loved ones were going through in the war. Eleanor dreamed of becoming a war artist herself. Through her work she meets artist Jack Valante. There is an instant attraction , but they are separated by his posting overseas.

    In 2010 Eleanor requests her granddaughter Kathryn, who lives in Melbourne to return to London to help her with her search for Jack.

    The romance story lines for both Eleanor and Kathryn are one aspect of the story.
    The book is titled Eleanor’s Secret. As Kathryn discovers more about her grandmothers War years, the secrets unfold.
    There is the historical aspect of World war 2. Showing how there were less options available to women than men. The book portrays the role of war artists and how the war affected people’s lives.

    I enjoyed the book and learnt a lot about an aspect of World War 2 I hadn’t heard about before.
    I recommend the book, and give it 4 stars.

  2. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham is a novel which features strong women from two generations of the same family – the grandmother’s story begins in London during the Second World War when as an art school graduate Eleanor Roy works with the War Artists Advisory Committee, her elusive dream is to become a female war artist. The story tells of her love story with artist Jack Valante and how they are separated suddenly when he is posted overseas.
    The other generation featured is Eleanor’s granddaughter – Kathryn, a designer, who lives in Melbourne with her husband and son. Kathryn is at a crossroads in her life when she gets the request from her grandmother to fly to London to help her find Jack Valante.
    I was drawn to this novel as I enjoy stories which jump across family generations and bring the generations together. Also as a fairly new Australian, originally from London, I identified with Kathryn and the issue of whether she should stay in Australia or return to the UK.
    Kathryn’s persistence and hard work eventually uncovers the mystery but at times I wondered why Eleanor kept so much from her, it seemed a little strange. Why would you ask your granddaughter to fly halfway round the world to help with a search but not provide her with all the information you can to make it easier?
    I found myself caught up in the search and while at times the story was a little predictable I still thoroughly enjoyed it and found it hard to put down.
    Thanks to Allen & Unwin and the Beauty & Lace Book Club for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

  3. It was an interesting insight into the Second World War. Thought two painters eyes. I like the historical value of the book, but I felt that it was a bit long winded. I would give it three a half stars.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club.

  4. This story is set in two eras. The 1942 war years and 2010 and it jumps back and forth between them which makes for a great read. The main characters are Eleanor and Jack, both artists, but whereas Jack is a war artist, Eleanor would love to be. The 1940’s war years are a man driven world and there is no place for a female in the thick of the action which is what Eleanor yearned to be. Her role as expected from the powers that be, is the supposedly traditional one of keeping the home fires burning and helping the war effort in England. This novel portrays the harsh reality of war and the sacrifices that had to be made.

    It shows love, compassion ,loyalty and strength of character to get through those years and also secrets and half truths that impact the future in 2010 and especially for Kathryn, Eleanor’s granddaughter.. These two women share a strong bond and the secrets of the past are peeled away slowly throughout the book. Will these secrets tear them apart or strengthen their bond?

    I loved the novel and highly recommend it.

  5. I love a good historical novel and this book was really an enjoyable read. It deals with World War two from a completely different angle. You usually don’t think of art much in a time of war. So it was beautiful to see how this beautiful art form of painting is part of a war love story. Actually wished I could “see” some of Jack Valante’s and Eleanor’s paintings they are so beautifully described in the book!

    It also sheds light on the role women played during the war and the slow change in a woman’s place in society over the years. Loved the two alternating time lines between generations of the same family and the unravelling of the secrets of the past.

    Overall a wonderful book . And sure to hit the mark with readers of historical fiction and art. Was a real delight to read and review it!

  6. This story is a complex, multi-generational one starring Eleanor Roy. She was a young woman who joined the War Artist Advisory Committee during WWII where she had to sign-up new artists and talent under contract. A gifted painter herself, she forms a romantic bond with Jack Valante but things do not go according to plan.

    Without giving too much away, the end product is a multi-dimensional tale that shares a few things with a forthcoming film called “The Wife.”

  7. I loved reading Eleanor’s Secret as I found that it was an enduring love story but with a twist. The story is more about the War Artists during the second World War rather then a strong focus on romance. I would not class this book as a romance as such so for those that like a bit of grit and some mystery then this is the book for you.
    Things start of simply enough with Kathryn indulging her Grandmother by flying from Australia to England to spend her time in trying to find a War Artist that her Grandmother was friends with during the War. As Kathryn finds more information about the War Artist she also learns more about her Grandmother and her Grandmothers past and along the way she learns more about herself as well.
    This is a story that jumps from London in the 1940’s to 2010 in Melbourne and also England.

    I found this a lovely read. Easy but still there was the mystery. I sis wish that some of the paintings that were described in the book had been printed as that would have been lovely.

  8. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham and published by @AllenandUnwinBooks is historical fiction and tells an intriguing story about family, lost love and the long-reaching, emotional effects of World War II on people’s lives.

    The story revolves around the Eleanor of the title. It swaps between the war years of Eleanor’s youth in the 1940s, where (a would be war artist herself) she worked with the War Artist Advisory Committee, to more current times, where Eleanor is now a great-grandmother, and has enlisted her grand-daughter Kathryn to find a war artist who has seemingly disappeared. An artist with whom Eleanor had shared a special bond.

    The story is very visually descriptive and it was easy to transport oneself to war-torn London, and to get a sense of the anguish and despair, the struggles and deprivation and the numbing shock of the war (particularly on those left at home). All this was cleverly done whilst also weaving into the story the interesting and largely untold role that war artists played.

    Eleanor’s Secret was a compelling story and an enjoyable read.

  9. Thank you for letting me read Eleanors Secret! I very much looked forward to it!

    While not a true war romance novel in the usual sense but a drawn out love story over the decades. I felt sorry for Eleanor andI wished her a happier outcome but those were the times. I was glad once the truth came out.

    Once again I enjoyed the historical facts of the book and found the story easily entwined with the truth. I was aware of war artists but not of the depth of thier participatolion or the degree of difficulty.

    I only found issue with the reason of dragging her grand daughter so far but not really helping her or giving more back ground information. Whilst this helped with Katherines marriage, it wasnt intrigal to the story.

    A good book hard to put down.

  10. Whilst I’m not a fan of War novels, I really enjoyed the way Caroline described this time and it easily kept my interest. Both the main characters are intriguing and likeable. The story is written in 2 timelines, a love story that it not a fairy tale and nothing is given away. The way it is written really makes me want to delve into my own family history, If you like mysterious romance novels then this is the book for you

  11. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham is a well written novel with dual timeline; war-torn London in 1942, and Melbourne/London in 2010. The story follows Eleanor Roy in 1942 and Grand-daughter Kathryn in 2010, where Eleanor has requested Kathryn’s assistance to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Eleanor’s lost love from the war years, artist Jack Valante.

    I loved the book. It took several chapters to get thoroughly lost in the story; Beecham is very descriptive in her language enabling the reader to identify with the characters she breathes life into. There is a lot of historical world war two detail, giving the reader a feel for life in the war years; the turmoil, upheaval and uncertainty of what the next days/years will bring. The story is cleverly woven between the two timelines in a tangled web of intrigue and mystery.

    Hard to put down, I recommend this novel to anyone who likes a bit of history, romance and mystery.

  12. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read Eleanor’s Secret.

    As others have mentioned the story unfolds during the war and works with a dual timeline of 2010 when Eleanors grand daughter is enlisted by Eleanor to find a painter to find Jack Valante.

    Eleanor’s Secret is an engrossing story full of details of the difficulties suffered during the war in the UK and toll it took on the people. I learnt a great deal about the work of the war artists and the art which was displayed in the restaurants! Who knew??

    There is much to love about this book but I would have loved more detail about some of the characters and the thing referred to (Eleanors marriage and how it came to be arranged, what Jack was actually doing, more detail about Kathryn and her marriage and son…..).

    Anyway an enjoyable read! Highly recomended.

  13. I really enjoyed Maggie’s Kitchen so was looking forward to another Caroline Beecham book.
    Eleanor’s Secret is a really well written and well researched book that covers two timelines.
    It is 1942 in war-torn London where we are first introduced to Eleanor who joins the War Artist Advisory Committee during WWII .
    In 2010 Eleanor is requesting her grand-daughter Kathryn’s help to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a war artist Jack Valante who Eleanor home ad a special relationship with.
    There is intrigue, mystery, history and a love story. The descriptive passages of living through the turmoil and hardship of the war give the reader a real sense of how difficult and uncertain life would have been.
    Keeping with the Maggie’s Kitchen theme I was intrigued and interested by the work of the war artists and the art which was displayed in the restaurants.
    I enjoyed the story and felt I was on an adventure to find the secrets Eleanor kept.
    Thanks for the opportunity to read and review. 4/5

  14. From the Australian author of Maggie’s Kitchen, Caroline Beecham, comes her second novel, Eleanor’s Secret. Eleanor’s Secret is a historical fiction novel told in the third person with a dual timeline. Set in London 1942 and Melbourne in 2010, it is the story of a two young women revealed in five parts.

    In 1942, the reader follows in the footsteps of Eleanor Ray. A young woman who works for the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC), her true calling is to be a war artist. Knowing little about war artists during the second world war, I gained some basic but interesting insight into a career during that era. During that time a woman’s place was still seen to be the homemaker despite them taking on many roles previously dominated by men. I truly felt for Eleanor as she tried to gain acceptance for her work. When she finally does it is with some unconventional yet understandable methods and with Jack Valante’s help.

    Jack is the love interest if of Eleanor and I had some high expectations of his role within the story. Initially, Jack too is a war artist but it’s gradually revealed that this is a cover up for a more important mission. Most of the time the reader is in the dark just like Eleanor about this mission and I found this to be quite frustrating. I was hoping for intricate details and to learn more about this inner sanctum. Much more research would have added greater depth to Jack’s journey during the war.

    In 2010, Kathryn leaves Melbourne at the request of her grandmother Eleanor and heads to London to return a painting to it’s owner. Like her grandmother, Kathryn has her own issues to deal with in modern times. Married with a child, Kathryn must decide with the clarity of distance if her marriage is worth saving. While I was invested in Kathryn’s part, the story dragged in her timeline as not a lot seemed to happen as she endeavors to find the artist. Family secrets are revealed but it was nothing shocking or surprising. Instead it is logical and neatly tied together.

    With themes of family secrets, war, love, men and women’s roles in society this is an enjoyable way to pass the time.

  15. Thank you to Allan and Unwin and Beauty and Lace Book Club for the privelege to read Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham.

    Eleanor’s Secret combines two era’s 1942 and 2010, mainly based in London and small references to Melbourne, which I loved.

    It revolves around Kathryn going back to England to help her grandmother Eleanor find her lost love Jack and the secrets that are finally revealed.

    I learnt alot about the War Artists and their important role during the war which I never knew about. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and gave it 4 stars.

  16. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

    I really enjoy historical fiction. This book was an enjoyable read in which I learnt more about the time during the second world war. I didn’t know that there was an important role for artists during the war. It was an insight for me.

    I also really enjoy books that have 2 timelines. It helps keep the intrigue. This book did not disappoint.

    Recommended for anyone who likes historical fiction.

  17. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham was a very pleasant, easy, good feel read.

    Set in 1942 Eleanor Roy wants to do her bit for the war effort and is recruited by the War Artist Advisory Committee. Then she meets a handsome artist named Jack Valante who offers her help with her true ambition and dream to become one of the few female war artists.

    They fall madly in love but become separated by Jack’s sudden posting overseas.

    The book shifts between two time periods 1942 and 2010. This I really enjoyed as it gave some depth and dimension to the story and mystery.

    In 2010 Eleanor now the mother of Abigail and grandmother to Kathryn who returns to London from Australia to help to her grandmother return a painting to its artist during which is uncovered a long held family secret.

    I always enjoy a novel which is set around the war era and each time learn something about events during that period and of course who doesn’t enjoy a good love story and mystery.

    I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it.

    Thanks to the Publishers Allen & Unwin and Beauty and Lace.

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham.
    I am very fond of historical fiction and this novel certaily doesnt disappoint.
    Set in 1942 the the story revolves around Eleanor Ray and her wishes to help with the war effort.
    Working in the War Artist Advisory Committee she meets and is swept away by a young artist Jack Valante, before Jack is suddenly posted overseas.
    The novel jumps between two timeframes , 1942 and 2010.
    in 2010 we find Eleanor now a mother and grandmother .
    Her grandaughter Kathryn returns to Australia from London to help Eleanor return a painting to its artist , not realising that they would uncover a long held family secret at the same time .
    I often find novels with time jumps between two different periods of time often difficult to read but this was certainly not the case with Eleanor’s Secret .
    I found it to be a really enjoyable , easy to read novel. One that I was engrossed in quite quickly.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for allowing me to read and review this great novel.

  19. Eleanor’s Secret, I have to admit to selecting this book because my late mother in laws name was Eleanor, it’s the same way I pick out a horse for the Melbourne Cup, because of its name. In this case I picked a winner.

    I loved the portrayal of Eleanor a woman in a man’s world being more than capable of doing a job but not being able to…thank goodness for progress.

    This novel swaps between London in 1942, the 2nd WW and Melbourne 2010, a journey of generations. And the story of family with Kathryn Eleanor’s granddaughter returning to London for her grandmother, even though this disrupts her life terribly.

    Just what is Eleanor’s Secret, now that would be telling, but I encourage you to find a copy and discover it for yourself….. 4 ½ stars for sure

  20. Thanks to Beauty and Lace for this fascinating read ‘Eleanor’s Secret. It is a wonderful glimpse into what life was like in war-time London which is so very foreign and far removed from the modern comforts of today; a fact which is elegantly highlighted with the juxtaposition of the dual storylines of Eleanor and Kathryn.

    I loved the historical detail and artistic bent of this novel and found Eleanor’s strength and determination admirable. I learnt a lot about war artists and life during those years. However, this is not only an interesting historical novel but a tale of humanity, loss and love. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would highly recommend it to family and friends.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace, Caroline Beecham and Allen and Unwin for the opportunity to read and review “Eleanor’s Secret’.

  21. Thanks to Allen and Unwin and Beauty and Lace for giving me this book to read.

    I loved Maggie’s Kitchen and learning things I never knew about the war. So I was excited to see that Caroline Beecham had written another book.

    Eleanor’s Secret is just as exciting. It was a slow read for me as there is so much to learn while reading this book. So many new and interesting things to learn about the war and the way people lived and the things they saw and had to go through each day.

    So lets get to the story.
    We start in 1942 when Eleanor is working for the Ministry of Food and is going around London trying to sign up artists. Their paintings are needed to decorate restaurants and food places around England to add some warmth and happiness to the darkness of war.

    One day while out and about doing this part of her job she sees Jack Valante and he is on her list of recruits to sign up. This begins her interest and Jack both for his work and of course her personal interest in him 😉

    We join Eleanor as she goes about her daily tasks in the Ministry of Food and her home life with her sister Cecily and how their life plays out living in London during the war.

    Now we come to London and its 2010 and Katherine has arrived as per request her grandmother Eleanor.
    Eleanor needs Katherine’s help to find Jack and return his painting to him. Katherine has made the trek from Australia to help her grandmother and the other side to the story begins from here.

    The story bounces back between and forth from Eleanor in 1942 and Katherine and Eleanor in2010.
    Interestingly as the story unfolds through the time line more hints and clues are given as to what they outcome may be. Through the story line we learn so much more and Eleanor and Jack and what happens to their love story.

    There are so many interesting bits throughout the story and I enjoyed so much how Caroline had placed war facts and historical moments in the story for you as a reader to uncover and enjoy.
    This is why to me it was slow as it was all just so amazing that I didn’ t want to miss one bit of it.

    Eleanor’s Secret certainly is a secret and one that will take you a while to uncover but it is all worth it in the end.
    What is it? Sorry it’s secret

  22. Thanks for the opportunity to read Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham.

    Within a few chapters I was engrossed in the dual story lines of Eleanor past, set in London in 1942 and her granddaughter in Melbourne in 2010.

    I love a good multi generation story, especially one with intrigue, complexity and family secrets.

    Eleanor worked as for the War Artists Advisory Council. I had never thought about an artists and the role they played in war. I enjoyed the artists perspective and descriptions of war time London and learning about the role artists had to play in preserving the cultural artefacts, increasing the morale of the population through beauty and also maintaining a record of wartime events.

    Kathryn, Eleanor’s granddaughter, is summoned to London to assist her grandmother solve a mystery involving the disappearance of her grandmothers first, true love during the way. Her grandmother is elusive and seems unwilling to pass on the information that would assist Kathryn in her search. Kathryn is torn between the duty to her husband and child back at home and the need to assist provide closure to her grandmother.

    The book was an enjoyable read which I would highly recommend.

  23. Thanks to Allen & Unwin and Beauty and Lace for the chance to read my first novel by Caroline Beecham.
    What I enjoyed most about this book was all the little bits I learnt about the war. I was unaware that artists played such a big part in it before reading this book!
    I enjoyed her writing style and felt transported back in time with the characters. The book itself looks and feels great and is definitely something I would pick off the shelves to read (Yes I often judge a book by its cover sadly!)
    All in all a good novel and I will be looking up her other book Maggie’s Kitchen.

  24. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Allan&unwin for the opportunity to read Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham.
    I found this book a little slow to get started,beginning in 1942 Elenor is a young girl living in London during the war,a struggling artist working for the government trying to place artistic articles and moral boosting painting in the public building and restaurants around London. On one of these excursion she comes across Jack another painter but from then I felt that Jack had secrets of his own. Elenor longs to be a war artist on the battle front which women are almost unknown to do.
    The story then skips to 2010 and Kathryn living in Australia gets a letter from her grandmother Elenor asking her to come to London to find the artist of a painting she has in her possession. The painting had been painted by Jack and now his family want it returned to finish a collection. Katherine,whose marriage is at the moment unstable takes this opportunity to go away to London to help her grandmother. But there is much Elenor is not revealing about her youth and Kathryn is fighting to put the pieces together, while still apart from her husband and son. There is a lot more to Eleanor’s story that Kathryn must dig out before she can find out what happened to Jack..
    An enjoyable read with much to learn about London and it’s people during the war.

  25. A very enjoyable read that contains beautiful writing and really interesting subject matter.

    I enjoyed the multi generational aspect and learning how the family had evolved over the years.

    I believe Historical fiction is great genre as it makes us consider circumstances very different to our own. I always feel that the reader can be educated in some way via these types of novels. For me this holds particularly true. The role of war artists was truly fascinating.

    A great read and I will be recommending this to my family & friends.

  26. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham

    Two story lines on dual timeline. A love story during the time of war and another love story fighting its own battle.

    Eleanor’s is an artist during a time when women weren’t treated equally. Working for the War Artists Advisory she thought would bring her a step closer to realising her dream of being a war artist yet somehow it pushed it even further away. What it did bring was meeting the love of her life Jack. Both sharing a love of art and family their love story is passionate yet short lived after Jack is sent away to the front line to capture the war through his pictures.

    Fast forward to 2010, Eleanor’s grandaughter Katherine is battling her own love story. Her marriage. Does she stay or does she leave. Embarking on a adventure to Australia to help unravel the mystery of Jack and Eleanor Katherine finds not only the answers for her grandmother but also the answers for her own life.

    A little slow to start, but once you’re in, you’re in! A beautiful story written that truly makes the reader digest life in wartimes, true love and how much life has changed over time.

    Thank you Beauty and lace for another great book!

  27. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham is a story told in two eras the 1942 war years and 2010 and jumps back and forth between them. The main characters are Eleanor and Jack. Both are artists, Jack a War artist and Eleanor who would like to be. But unfortunately for Eleanor it is not possible to be a war artist as it is not a place for women in the thick of action this is when Eleanor joins the War Artist Advisory Committee to hopefully fulfil her dream. During her time at the WAAC Eleanor falls in love with Jack, who is then posted overseas, but Eleanor does not know that Jack is more than a war artist. Time goes by and Jack just disappears out of Eleanor’s life.

    We move to 2010 where Eleanor asks her granddaughter Kathryn if she would help her return a painting to London. Kathryn goes to London from Australia to help her grandmother return the painting but whilst there uncovers a long unknown family secret

    The story is full of mystery, history, intrigue and love.

    The story gives the reader a real feel for the turmoil and hardship faced during the war.

    I always enjoy a good love story also filled with mystery and highly recommend.

  28. Caroline Beecham has written a beautifully entwined passed and present life story of Eleanor and her family. The war effort, the effect on society, families, jobs, culture and conscious. People changed their lives to accommodate the new ways established during the war. Eleanor, Cecily, Jack, Katheryn, Chris and Oli all shine light on how we deal with family history, stress, anxiety, changes in environment, culture and mysteries we face when we dig into the past.
    Eleanor is an amazing character of strength and dignity. Jack, with his own investment in the war, his mother and sister and his need to provide for his family. They met though Eleanors work but their lives take them in different directions within the war effort.
    Caroline writes beautifully about the struggles we face, the choices we make and the outcome on the future on so many different lives. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eleanor’s Secret, i loved reading back and forth between past and present and the differences we face between past and present.

  29. I loved Eleanor’s Secret! The dual storyline was a great tool for unravelling the mystery between Eleanor and Jack. The writing was visually descriptive and engrossing, and contrasting beautifully between London in WWII and the modern London of today. I enjoyed learning of another aspect of the war, with Eleanor’s work in the Ministry of Food and the artists of that era. A beautiful tale of family and courage!

  30. An enjoyable read.

    Eleanor’s Secret is the story of Eleanor and her grand-daughter, Kathryn. In 1942, Eleanor is struggling to make it into the male dominated world of war artists. We find out about the challenges she faced to make this dream a reality, as well as the heartache she endures. In 2010, Kathryn flies from Australia to England to help her grandmother uncover a mystery surrounding the disappearance of her close friend, but in doing so, Kathryn unravels a startling secret Eleanor held for almost a lifetime.

    The relationship between grandmother and granddaughter is explored beautifully and the reader is transformed from past to present expertly throughout the novel. This is a mystery / historical romance novel and is one that I thoroughly recommend. Thank you Beauty and Lace for this wonderful opportunity.

  31. Thanks Beauty & Lace & Allen & Unwin for this chance

    What a beautiful story line written effortlessly between two eras easy to follow with great descriptive narrative Love the connection between Grandmother & granddaughter in this historical wartime/present time with love spanning decades

    I really enjoyed this read & recommend to anyone who loves a good romance with a twist

  32. Thanks to Allen and Unwin and Beauty and lace for the chance to read this lovely book. I loved the different perspective on this love story between Jack and Eleanor set in WW2 and 2010 when Eleanor’s Granddaughter Kathryn becomes part of the story. The War Artists Advisory committee is not an area known to me, the decoration of local restaurants and the idea of keeping certain artists safe for the duration of the war if they weren’t actively war artists intriguing to me as an artist. So lovely to see the value placed on art as a way to keep morale up. A good end of the day read where you can get to the end of a time era and get to sleep!

  33. I thoughtI would love Eleanor’s Secret when I say the cover. It promised a story of art and love in a time gone by
    I wasn’t disappointed. This book by Caroline Beecham tells the story of Eleanor a young woman finding her way in life in war torn London in the 1940s
    It also flips to the current time when Kathryn (Eleanor’s granddaughter) travels home from her adopted country of Australia at her grandmother’s request
    The setting moves back and forth from the 1940’s to 2010 as we learn more about the secret that gave this novel its title
    This is a very descriptive novel. You are carried back to wartime. You fall in love as Eleanor did. This is a tale of hope and promise, a tale of a secret that endured generations
    I really enjoyed this book and wish to thank Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Allen and Unwin got the opportunity to review it. A magical book that will transport you away to the past

  34. I thoroughly enjoyed Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham. This book is set in two time periods. Firstly in 1942, War time England, where we meet a young Eleanor Roy, who is working for the War Artists Advisory committee. It’s through her work that she meets and falls in love with artist Jack Valante. They are eventually separated when Jack is posted overseas.

    When we move forward to 2010 we meet Kathryn, Eleanor Roy’s grand daughter. Eleanor enlists her help in returning a painting to its artist, who just happens to be Eleano’s lost love.
    It’s during this trip that Kathryn discovers a long held family secret.
    As a fan of romance novels and historical novels this book did not disappoint.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel.

  35. Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham follows the life of Eleanor during the war in London in 1942 and later in her life in 2010, through her granddaughter, Kathryn.
    In 1942 Eleanor is an art school graduate and is recruited by the War Artists Advisory Committee to help artists capture the war in any medium possible. Eleanor’s greatest dream is to become a war artist herself but this proves difficult for her and thus follows her story. Eleanor meets painter Jack Valente through trying to get him to sign up and provide art for the Ministry of Foods British Restaurants and the magnetism between them is palpable.
    In 2010, Eleanor asks her granddaughter Kathryn to leave her family home in Melbourne and help her return a painting she has in her possession to the artist. During her search for the artist Kathryn uncovers a long held family secret.
    Eleanor’s Secret is a mystery combined with a love story and very easy to read even spanning over the two timeframes. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for allowing me to read this magnificent book.

  36. For most of the book I found myself getting half way through a page and realising I hadn’t actually read a word and having to go back and try to re-read. I think it might have been because a lot of the time it felt like Caroline Beecham was trying to prove that she had been to the places she was describing so the language was overly pedantic. It’s a shame because it’s an interesting premise for a story – I had never heard of war artists before. Plus, the reason for “Eleanor’s secret” was pretty weak so don’t hold your breath for something exciting.

  37. Eleanor’s Secret is set across two different time periods. Eleanor is an artist living in London in 1942 during WWII. She is an art school graduate but currently works for the Ministry of Foods to recruit war artists to paint pictures for restaurants. In 2010 we see Eleanor invite her granddaughter Kathryn to visit her in London in relation to a painting from a war artist. It’s an interesting story but takes a bit of getting into and it wasn’t a story that had me staying up all night to read.

  38. Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read “Eleanor’s Secret” by Caroline Beecham. It is an historical novel set in the 1940’s and focusses on War Artists and their role in WW 11.. The story travels over 2 timelines London in 1940 and Melbourne 2010.
    It tells Eleanor’s story and that of her grand daughter Kathryn.
    I enjoyed part of the story. It accurately portrayed the role of women during the war and the lack of equality. It was interesting to learn of the role Art played in keeping up the morale of the people in England, particularly London.
    Kathryn travels from Melbourne to London at Eleanor’s request. Her grandmother wanted her help to solve a mystery and find a long lost ex lover. Jack.
    I could not understand the reasons given for why Jack had not contacted Eleanor. Nor why they were written out of the official histories. This part of the story seemed contrived and convoluted.
    The book was an easy read, good for a long plane trip or a lazy weekend.

  39. Eleanor’s Secret was a great book that told a beautiful story capturing the tale from a Grandmother starting from 1942 to 2010 with her Granddaughter going to find what happened to her grandmothers sweetheart. It beautifully flowed from 1942 to 2010 with clues being found along the way.

    Not wanting to give too much away – It was an excellent read and definitely a book I would re-read again.

    Thank you so much Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Allen & Unwin for letting me read this beautiful story.

  40. This is a beautifully crafted book that travels seamlessly between World War II London and contemporary Australia and London, weaving a mystery among the pages.

    We often think of our grandmothers as always being the people we know them as, not often considering that they were young themselves, once, and did similar things to us. Such is the case for Kathryn whose grandmother, Eleanor, asks her to solve the mystery of her first love, Jack, who had gone overseas to work as a war artist, promising to return to her.

    Life rarely turns out as we plan, though, and such is the case for Eleanor. Kathryn returns to England to help Eleanor solve a 60-year mystery and, along the way, she learns plenty she didn’t know about her grandmother, which has serious implications for her own life.

    This is a book that may take a little reading to get into, but the story soon draws you in, and then won’t let you go until you reach that final word. However, the ending created more questions than it answered, so, unless there is going to be a sequel to this novel, readers will be left wondering.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to soak up this beautiful story.

  41. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for the chance to read and review Caroline Beecham’s second novel Eleanor’s Secret.

    At the outset let me say that I applaud Beecham’s efforts to accurately portray a part of the Second World War that many of us would have been unaware of, that of the War Artists who were commissioned to go into the field of battle and create both propaganda art and a visual record of the events of the time. It is clear that she has researched the topic well.

    As with most historical novels the story is told over two timelines. The first relates to Eleanor Roy, who is headhunted to work for the WAAC (The War Artists’ Advisory Committee), a skilled artist herself Eleanor is frustrated by the committees inability to recognise that women such as herself can offer more to the war time efforts and can also be war artists. As well as working for the WAAC, Eleanor also worked for the Ministry for Food looking to sign artists to provide decorative works for restaurants etc. providing them with an income at a time when people were unlikely to generally be paying for their services.

    The story opens with Eleanor being sent to sign Jack Valante, a skilled and attractive artist, who inexplicably refuses to sign the contract she carries, and then is whisked away by two men in dark suits and trilbies with an air of mystery about them.

    The second of the timelines is set in 2010, and opens with Eleanor’s granddaughter, Kathryn, flying to London from Australia having been summoned by her grandmother Eleanor has requested that Kathryn return with the war time oil painting “The Crimson Sun”, a small war time painting with the initials JV in the bottom corner that until now has hung in Kathryn’s home. The timing is difficult, Kathryn and her husband Chris are having marital difficulties, their son Oliver is due to perform in a piano concert in the near future and suddenly Eleanor wants her to find Jack Valante who seems to have mysteriously disappeared since the war. Things aren’t helped by Kathryn’s feeling that everyone she contacts, including Eleanor, seems to be hiding something from her.

    While the premise of the storyline was good, and the characters interesting, I found it hard to get immersed in the book. As others have commented, the book felt long winded, I was frustrated by the use of jargon terms such as SOE which were used throughout the story, but not explained until close to the end, and felt it could have been better edited.

    Having said that the book does have qualities to recommend it, particularly the exploration of an area of World War II that many would not previously have been aware of. I give it 3/5 stars.

  42. Prior to reading Elenor’s Secret, I had just finished another book that was based around WWII. It was action paced and behind the lines, obviously this take is very different, so it took a while for me to truly get into the book.
    While I did enjoy the story itself, the way that Elenor’s granddaughter was bought in to help search for Jack, and learning if Elenor and Jacks tale, to be honest I found it took me quite a while to truly get interested and involved, and by the time I was in over my head, I was at the end and the novel was wrapped up in what felt was a hurried finish.
    It was good to get answers and learn how it ended and close the door so to speak, but the last couple of chapters felt to me like it was very rushed and I didn’t feel we got to enjoy the reunion and end of the tale like we could have.
    Still a very good read, and am glad to gave taken part in this review.

  43. Thank you so much Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Allen & Unwin for letting me read this beautiful story.

    Although a slow start what a beautiful historical novel. I love two timeline stories and enjoy how this one flowed.
    Eleanor’s Secret was a great book that told a beautiful story starting in 1942 from the grandmothers point of view up to 2010 when it was told from the granddaughter where she goes on a journey to find what happened to someone from her grandmothers past. It beautifully flowed from 1942 to 2010 with clues being found along the way.

    Not wanting to give too much away – It was an excellent read.

  44. Thank you to Allen & Unwin and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this book.

    I love historical fiction especially mid 20th Century so that was what originally attracted me to the title but had never really heard of war artists so found that aspect new and interesting.

    As someone who firmly believes in equal rights the whole gender issue presented drove me crazy as it often does. Having said that I loved the flipping between past and present with the dual narrative.

    This was the first of Caroline Beecham’s books I have read but look forward to reading more.

    For now I recommend Eleanor’s Secret. 4.5 out of 5.

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