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The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets Reader’s Guide

By Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice


Questions and Topics for Discussion

Eva Rice has crafted a captivating and wonderfully stylized novel about a young woman and her group of friends in postwar London’s glamorous and daring young society.

Vibrant, witty, and filled with vivid historical detail, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is an utterly unique novel about a time and place just slipping into history.

This story is about what happened to me after I met Charlotte, and what happens when you say yes to everything, and how awkward it is when everyone falls in love with the wrong people.

It was a perfectly ordinary afternoon in November when I first met Charlotte. She straightaway invited me home to tea with Aunt Clare and Harry, and from that moment on, everything changed. At first I don’t think I knew it—after all, when I went to bed that night I was still living with my mother and brother in perpetual chaos in our crumbling ancestral estate, Magna—but the next day, I began to realize that for the first time ever, I had my own life.

You see, meeting Charlotte made everything possible. Even being kissed by Johnnie Ray and hanging out with movie producers called Rocky and believing my brother Inigo could be the next Elvis Presley. And falling in love and not realizing it.

This story is what happened when us war babies grew up and needed answers. When we got them, they weren’t what we expected at all.



Eva Rice is a writer and young mother living in London.


“An impulsive taxi ride with a stranger in 1950s London indelibly changes Penelope Wallace’s life in Rice’s sparkling debut. . . . Rice’s remarkable gift for creating singular characters in this memorable story underscores her presence as a fresh new voice in fiction.”

Publishers Weekly

“London of the 1950s comes to life . . . quickly becomes hard to put down as the reader becomes lost in the vivid description of 1950s London and [a] romantic world, where a chance meeting can change your life forever.”

Library Journal


  • How does The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets seem the perfect title to describe Eva Rice’s novel?
  • Do you think that in the present day we have lost the “Art of Keeping Secrets?”
  • How does the time frame of the 1950s play an important role in the novel?
  • Why does Penelope find Charlotte so fascinating? Would you have gone along with Charlotte’s invitation to share a cab?
  • How does the voice of the narrator contribute to the story?
  • Have you met people like Charlotte who have transformed your life?
  • One of the most important characters in the novel is Magna, the immense old house. How is the house crucial?
  • Describe the relationship between Penelope and her mother.
  • How has the loss of Archie affected the family?
  • Why does Penelope find America so fascinating?
  • How is Johnny Ray important to Penelope and Charlotte? Have any music or film idols played a similar role in your life?
  • How can The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets be seen as a fairy tale for grownups?
  • How is The Long Gallery at Magna important?
  • Through Penelope, Eva Rice conveys so well what it is like to be young and giddy and in love. Does her description of youth fit with your conception of it?
  • How do Charlotte and Harry change Penelope’s life?
  • Though Rocky is introduced late in the narrative, he plays a crucial role. Did you suspect who he would end up with?
  • How was life in England in the Fifties different from today?
  • What do you think of Aunt Charlotte’s secret?
  • Does the fate of Magna seem appropriate? How does the author foreshadow the ending?
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