I think I have a soft spot in my heart for books about writers. Books about women stepping up in a so-called man’s world too. Put the two together, and I’m sold. The Secrets of Paper and Ink was a sweet past-present story of three women (2 modern, 1 historical) who find healing through words and find God in their story in the process. I really enjoyed this book; here are 3 reasons why.
This post was originally shared on the Real World Bible Study Blog.
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3 Things I Loved About The Secrets of Paper and Ink
#1 Writing can bring healing.
On a really personal level, I loved the exploration of writing as a means of healing in these women’s lives. I love to write, and yet sometimes when I need healing I almost avoid writing. I’ve been considering journaling for just that purpose recently, and so it was really special to walk that journey with these women.
#2 The journey brings healing.
Even though I kind of knew the mystery almost from the beginning of the book, I loved discovering all the connections between past and present with the characters in this story. Sometimes, sitting at home is what we need, but sometimes, we need to chase after something. It’s that search, that journey, that discovery, that God uses to help us put our broken lives back together.
#3 There is hope in the midst of very messy lives.
One of the things we love about fiction is the happily ever after, the things that finally go the way they should. But so often, real life isn’t like that. Life is so messy. (Side note: That’s why I love how messy the Bible is!) It’s broken, and sometimes it can’t be fixed in this lifetime. The women in these stories certainly found that to be the case. But even so, even in the midst of trauma and grief and broken relationships and unrequited love and failing businesses…these women found hope. They found a strength and an identity in God rather than in a business or a relationship. And, they found healing and new relationships, too. Maybe it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go…but God still brought something good out of it, and these women found love and fulfilling lives even though all the broken stuff didn’t get fixed, maybe even can’t get fixed in this lifetime.
What I Didn’t Love About The Secrets of Paper and Ink
I don’t like that William gets involved with someone who doesn’t share his faith – and there doesn’t even seem to be any conflict over it. This is a pet peeve of mine with a lot of Christian romance. We try to do the faith story and the romance story together, but often it comes out looking like “missionary dating” or simply like a relationship I wouldn’t recommend…and it’s portrayed as if the way it happened was a good thing. Christian guys, don’t get involved with a girl who doesn’t share your faith. If she’s on that journey, pray for her and wait around if you want. But dating her is a sure way to break your heart and your faith (or hers).
I also felt like the spiritual element of this story was hinted at towards the beginning, and was very strong at the end, but was hardly noticeable in the middle of the story. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it made it seem a little bit like an afterthought and kind of a surprise at the end.
Would I recommend The Secrets of Paper and Ink?
Yes, I would recommend this book. I really enjoyed the story, especially the historical sections, and I would like to see more from this author.
The Secrets of Paper and Ink is on tour with Celebrate Lit.
About the Book
Title: The Secrets of Paper and Ink
Author: Lindsay Harrel
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release date: February 26, 2019
Lindsay Harrel presents a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and finding the courage to write your own story.
A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England—a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author—and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.
Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.
More than 150 years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.
The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.
Click here to purchase your copy.
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at LindsayHarrel.com.
Guest Post from Lindsay
With every book I write, it seems God has something new to teach me. That certainly was true of The Secrets of Paper and Ink.
Lately, I am learning more and more about the power of our words. I’ve become more conscious of the words I speak over myself as well as what I say to other people. It’s more than “positive thinking”—the words we say ultimately contribute to the stories we weave, and I want my story to be as positive and hope-filled as possible, regardless of my circumstances.
I’ve also become much more aware of the lies that I tell myself—“you are not worthy, you are not enough, you will never achieve what you want to achieve”—and the need to replace those lies with the truths that God says about me. I have listened to Lauren Daigle’s songYou Say on repeat lately, and it has become a theme not just of The Secrets of Paper and Ink, but one in the story of my very life.
So while I may not have experienced everything my characters have—I’ve never suffered emotional abuse, or been ostracized by my family, or been orphaned and alone in a world that seems against me at every turn—I have learned alongside them. I set out to write a book that would draw readers closer to the true healer and hope giver, and I ended up being drawn closer myself.
And that, to me, is the true power of story.
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