I read The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice back in November 2010. It never really let go of my imagination. As in so many cases, there is so much to say I find it hard to know where to begin. Set in post-World War II Britain in the early/mid-1950s, it is hard not to see the influence of the unbridled optimism of the period on just about everything, especially music and fashion.
Despite being a piece of fiction, the musical superstars of the era, Johnnie Ray, and later Elvis, are very real. I have to admit that I had never heard of Johnnie Ray before this book and wasn’t quite sure if he was just a fictional part of the book. A tiny bit of internet research made it clear that he was indeed real.
What I love most about the book is Eva Rice’s well-developed description of true love of music, not just the passing fads of impressionable teenage girls. Yes, Penelope Wallace, the teenage protagonist of The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets, is a devoted fan of Johnnie Ray’s, but right from the beginning of the novel you can tell it is so much more. She is deeply in love with the music. She is so deeply in love with the music of Johnnie Ray as a matter of fact that it becomes a part of her whirlwind teenage life in London with her friends Charlotte, Harry, and later her brother Inigo, who idolizes Elvis.
Ok. This is where I’m going to stop for a minute. Does any of this bring anything to mind? As I read the book back then, it hit me. I was very reading about the Britain in which the Beatles grew up. They, like Inigo, loved Elvis and treasured any and every album they could get imported from the United States. The music they grew up with inspired them so much that they later went on to not only create a huge catalog of their own, but also became the biggest band rock and roll has ever seen.
What made the connection so obvious to me were the descriptions of the crowd outside of the London Palladium before a Johnny Ray concert – a taste of the Beatlemania that would later sweep the country – and descriptions of Teddy Boys encountered by Penelope and her new friend Charlotte. Teddy Boys in 1950s England dressed in leather, defied authority, and greased back their hair. As an American, I would compare the 1950s British Teds to 1950s American Greasers. The TED look was very much a part of the early Beatles look, that is until Brian Epstein agreed to help the band and helped them to clean up their act. My favorite part of the entire “look” has to be the DA haircut.
Until I read John by Cynthia Lennon, I had no real clue what the haircut was called. As she met John and all the Beatles during the TED phase, she talks a little bit about the haircut, which she terms the DA, shorthand for Duck Arse. I couldn’t help but laugh. It does indeed look exactly like a duck’s butt. She states she felt the mop top was a huge improvement, and I have to agree.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice. It gave me a glimpse into a world long since gone, full of optimism and glamour that may never return. I love how music is used in the novel and hope I can only do it half as well someday.
- The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets (40isthenew30.me)
- April 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge: Beatles Edition ~ Wrap Up (russelllindsey.wordpress.com)
- J is for John Lennon (russelllindsey.wordpress.com)
- V is for Vintage Everyday (russelllindsey.wordpress.com)
- Top 10 Unpleasant Facts About John Lennon (listverse.com)
- Top 10 Reasons to Admire John Lennon (listverse.com)