Book Review: The Secrets of Paper And Ink

10 Dec

Brought together across time by a love of story, three women in England fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.  

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature. 

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance. 

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch. 

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and — of course — writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.


My Impressions: 

I read Lindsay Harrel‘s debut novel, The Heart Between Us, and thought it was fabulous. So, of course, I wanted to read Secrets of Paper And Ink. The problem was that I let it languish in the TBR pile much too long. What in the world was I waiting on? If you love books about books, you need to read this novel. If you love quality women’s fiction, you need to read this novel. If you love a book that gets to the heart of what is truly important in life, you MUST read this book! It is a very highly recommended read!

Secrets of Paper And Ink tells the story of three women — two contemporary Americans lost and found in Cornwall and a 19th century woman bound by her society. Harrel takes each woman’s story and knits them together in a beautiful narrative about finding self and the hand of the Savior. Sophia and Ginny came to Cornwall for different reasons. Sophia is hoping to heal from an abusive relationship, and Ginny followed a man to find her purpose. They meet up in the bookshop Ginny owns and become more than temporary landlord/employer and tenant. They also discover Emily’s story, although they don’t know if it is real or fiction. The novel is told through the 3rd person perspective of Ginny and Sophia and the first person account of Emily — and it really works! I loved each woman’s hard fought struggles and revelations of who they are in spite of others’ expectations. Emily’s story is especially intriguing and is the catalyst for the changes that Sophia and Ginny take to become who they are meant to be. The faith message is subtle throughout the novel until the very end. I loved that, because it followed the women’s lives as they first wrestled and then surrendered. Never preachy or overtly religious, the novel portrays a natural coming to God and faith.

For those who love story, The Secrets of Paper And Ink will be a joy to read. How could you not love a book that includes writers and bookshops!? 😉 I loved this book, and believe you will too.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to the author and NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


7 Responses to “Book Review: The Secrets of Paper And Ink”

  1. Patty December 10, 2019 at 11:49 am #

    If you have a Kindle, do yourself a favor and go download ‘Like a Winter Snow’ the novella she wrote about the same setting/people.

    • rbclibrary December 10, 2019 at 12:22 pm #

      Oooh! I didn’t know that! Thanks!

  2. susanblogginboutbooks December 10, 2019 at 2:15 pm #

    This novel sounds excellent! I hadn’t heard of it before, but it’s going on my TBR list now. Thanks for the heads-up!


    • rbclibrary December 10, 2019 at 2:22 pm #


  3. carhicks December 10, 2019 at 11:43 pm #

    I loved this book as well. Great review.

    • rbclibrary December 11, 2019 at 5:17 am #



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