To celebrate the paperback publication tomorrow of ‘Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase’, I’ve interviewed the lovely Louise Walters about the book.
This dual-narrative novel follows present-day Roberta – who works in a bookshop and finds letters and cards inside the old books – and 1940s Dorothy who meets a Polish pilot during the Battle of Britain. Secrets from the past resurface chapter by chapter as the relationship between Roberta and Dorothy is gradually revealed. The lives of these two women and the conflict between their inner feelings and the outer world – and for both, a reluctance to fully engage with that outer world, looking in from outside, always on the edge of things – are beautifully rendered by the writer. Traditional aspects of women’s lives – such as childbirth, relationships with parents, marriage, adultery, cookery and laundry – are explored in a sensitive and careful way, all the while the central mystery unfolding and drawing the reader onwards. I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Dorothy and Jan, her Polish pilot, which achieved a kind of timeless quality which I did not want to end and was eager to return to. I’m trying to avoid giving away any plot spoilers, but suffice to say there is a central scene recollected by Dorothy – told in flawless stream of consciousness – which was devastating and harrowing to read, brilliantly done – you’ll know what I mean when you get there. The characters will live on long in the memory, and the scenes in Dorothy’s kitchen and in the fields surrounding her farm are etched in my mind. A lovely book, touching and very moving.