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Review: The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti

January 2, 2009

the-secret-papers-of-madame-olivettiLily Crisp has always held her emotions inside, so when her husband dies, she doesn’t really know how to grieve.  She decides to head to their home in France and takes her old Olivetti typewriter with her to write her life’s story.  (She calls the typewriter Madame Olivetti.)  Lily’s life has taken many twists and turns.  As a young woman, she leaves her boyfriend for a little while to study in Italy.  When she gets there, she discovers she’s pregnant.  Before she can tell her boyfriend, she finds out that he’s married her sister because she’s pregnant by him.  Her baby is stillborn.  After she returns to the States, Lily meets and marries Paul Crisp, even though she doesn’t love him.  He’s a kind man, though, and she grows to love him, and they have two children.  Paul doesn’t have an adventurous spirit and Lily does, so she often finds herself traveling alone.  You learn a lot about Lily through her travels.

Interspersed with her writings of the past, is Lily’s present in France.  By being in her husband’s old family home, she discovers a truth that will finally set her free.

From the title and the cover, I expected The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti by Annie Vanderbilt to be a light, chick lit type of read, but it’s not.  It’s about love and forgiveness and acceptance.  I really enjoyed this book, even though the prose was a little too flowery for me at times.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2009 10:03 am

    Sounds like Lily’s life is often in turmoil! Thanks for the review, I keep the book on my radar.

  2. January 2, 2009 10:29 am

    i’m not sure if you come and recheck comments over on my blog since you are wordpress so i’ll answer you here. yeah my “this week in books” pictures have the backgrounds taken out in photoshop. i figure they look nicer than way- because i usually take them right on my bed!

  3. stacybuckeye permalink
    January 2, 2009 12:38 pm

    This sounds good.

  4. January 2, 2009 1:07 pm

    I have not heard of this novel before, but I am definitely intrigued after reading your review. It will be added to the ever-growing TBR pile!

  5. January 2, 2009 1:33 pm

    I would have expected light and chick-litish too from the cover and title. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Kathy. It sounds like a worthwhile read.

  6. January 2, 2009 2:12 pm

    Kathy, even though this wasn’t what you expected, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  7. January 2, 2009 5:10 pm

    This sounds like a wonderful story, but the cover does make it seem like a light read, or even a cozy-style mystery.

  8. January 2, 2009 5:37 pm

    I love the cover… sounds like a good book…I’m drowning in my books on this end. How do you read so many?

  9. January 2, 2009 5:58 pm

    Doesn’t quite sound like my cup of tea but I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  10. January 2, 2009 7:19 pm

    Some surprises (books turning out to be not as you expected) are unpleasant. Glad this one worked out for you, even if the writing style isn’t your usual 🙂

  11. January 2, 2009 8:46 pm

    That sounds really good! I like chick lit, but a little more depth rather than fluff and a readable style work best, in my humble opinion. Great review!

  12. January 3, 2009 12:16 pm

    This wasn’t what I expected either – I found it a little slow, but good.

  13. January 3, 2009 8:53 pm

    Oh.. did someone say France and Flowery Prose? I am in! I agree the title and the book don’t seem to indicate that it would have too much depth. I must read.

  14. January 3, 2009 9:43 pm

    I saw this not too long ago and wondered if I would like it. Thanks for the review, it gives me a better idea!

  15. January 5, 2009 2:25 am

    Based on the cover alone, I probably never would have picked this up, but now I might!

  16. January 5, 2009 8:39 am

    Sounds like an interesting read. With the whole pregnancy drama, I’d think it was chick-lit, too.

  17. January 5, 2009 7:52 pm

    You had me going until the flowery prose comment at the end. I tend to not like what I call ‘wordy’ books – I am not a description reader and those books are all description to me. Thanks for the review!

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