The Secrets of Paper and Ink

Written by Lindsay Harrel
Review by Diane Scott Lewis

American Sophia Barrett, a domestic violence counselor, discovers returning to work is too painful even after a year has passed since her fiancé’s death in a car accident. She’s ashamed that she welcomed his death. He mentally abused her, and she should have known better. She travels to Cornwall, England for a summer break, drawn by the descriptions of her favorite author—an obscure Cornish writer. Ginny Rose, another American, runs a bookstore in a Cornish village. Her husband has gone to London to “find” himself, but it’s been six months. The store is failing, and she rents out a studio above it for much needed funds. Sophia is the renter, and as part of the deal works in the shop. The two women become friends. While sorting through books, Sophia finds a journal written by a Victorian woman named Emily Fairfax. Is Emily real or merely fiction?

Emily loves a man far above her, then determines to become a writer in a time when female authors were looked down upon. Ginny travels to London to demand a decision from her absent husband. Sophia delves into the mysterious Emily to prove she was real and struggles to heal her emotional damage. These three women face troubles and obstacles, chances of new beginnings, or further failure. The “surrendering their lives to God” at the end seems tacked on. And the second romances are obvious. However, this is a charming story of female strength, friendship, and forgiveness.