The Keeper of Stories is beautiful, interesting, heartfelt, and perfectly written Women-Centric fiction. I highly recommend this book as it is truly a gem.
The Keeper of Stories by Sally Page
Publication Date : March 17th 2022
Publisher : One More Chapter (HarperCollins UK)
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Pages : 384
Tea for this book : As there is lot going on with many stories and also has a positive vibe, White Tea + Indian Masala Chai
Disclaimer – Many thanks to publisher for e-ARC.
She can’t recall what started her collection. Maybe it was in a fragment of conversation overheard as she cleaned a sink? Before long (as she dusted a sitting room or defrosted a fridge) she noticed people were telling her their stories. Perhaps they always had done, but now it is different, now the stories are reaching out to her and she gathers them to her…
Cleaner Janice knows that it is in people’s stories that you really get to know them. From recently-widowed Fiona and her son Adam; to opera-singing Geordie; and the awful Mrs ‘YeahYeahYeah’ and her fox terrier, Decius, Janice has a unique insight into the community around her.
When Janice starts cleaning for Mrs B – a shrewd and tricky woman in her nineties – she finally meets someone who wants to hear her story. But Janice is clear: she is the keeper of stories, she doesn’t have a story to tell. At least, not one she can share.
Mrs B is no fool and knows there is more to Janice than meets the eye. What is she hiding? After all, doesn’t everyone have a story to tell?
The Keeper of Stories is wonderful women’s fiction that revolves around Janice the house cleaner and stories she collects of people she works for. The story is mainly about misplaced guilt but there is many layers of trust, betrayal, loss, grief, tough childhood, parent’s influence on children, struggle in life, friendship, and love.
Writing is beautiful, heartfelt and slow to steady-paced. The narrative is third person from Janice’s perspective. I enjoyed Janice’s voice. Her tone is both serious and funny just like the stories she collects.
This is mainly character driven plot. The book has a slow start but after finishing the book I feel it was good as it gave me time to ease into the story with introduction of Janice, the houses she works in and what story they have, her husband of many jobs, what employers she doesn’t like and how through those employers she met and started working for Mrs B who saw through her and could tell she too has a story. Janice believed she is keeper of stories, she doesn’t have her own at least not the one she will share with anyone but Mrs B wouldn’t let her keep it hidden. It was interesting to read each stories Janice collected, to find out how they end, and most of all what is Janice’s story.
Janice is most amazing character. She is fifty yers old house cleaner. She lovely, smart, kind, patient, and selfless but she likes to be invisible, keep herself in the background, and she doesn’t take stand for herself. She has it somehow in her head that she doesn’t deserve happiness or better in life. It just blew my mind how she could stay married to a husband like Mike. But as story progressed we see her different sides. It, of course, comes in the second half of the book but I enjoyed seeing how many amazing things about herself she was hiding. I loved how being with Mrs B brought change in her life, how through the stories she collected she drew power of change and mended relationships that she thought drifted apart. Her story is most touching and heartfelt of all and I’m so happy she met Mrs B and Euan who made her realise hers is misplaced guilt and she deserves happiness. I’m still sad and shocked it took so many years for her to realise that.
Mrs B is my favorite character. She, at first, looked difficult woman in her 90s but she is just lonely still missing her husband, and want to live on the college campus where her husband worked and they lived, until she dies. But her son has different ideas and he wants her to move to old age homes. It was sad to see no one understood her or spent time with her like Janice did. She looked frail but she is feisty and colorful character as she was spy when she was younger. I found myself aligning with her thoughts and beliefs. And what she did at the end is touching and heartfelt. I just wish I could live with this old lady.
Euan is lovely. He is bus driver who watched Janice going to her work regularly and eventually formed friendships with her that developed into feelings. He is caring, calm, gentle, and lovely person. There was so much depth to his character. I wish I could know him earlier. He is perfect soul mate to Janice. I loved how he made Janice realise there can be more than one story for a person, brought happiness in her life and made her realise she desrves it.
It was amazing to know other characters and their stories– The famous opera singer, how he became successful and was so kind to Janice; Fiona-recent widow who lost her husband to depression, her son struggling with loss, and everyone tiptoeing around him; Old pleasant lady who has competitive best friend; unpleasant Mr. NoNoNotYet, son of Mrs B, his wife Mrs Yeahyeahyeah (they have name but I want them to recognise by names Janice gave and it was also funny), and their lovely cheerful and blunt fox terrier who came to be important part of Janice’s life; and many other stories that Janice come across in life and books. I also loved Becky’s story that Mrs B told to Janice. It was most fascinating interesting of all and near climax I realized why she told it Janice. What happened to all their stories and how it ended made the book most intriguing.
You can say this is kind of collection of short stories but it is told by a person observing it and giving it a shape and making the short collection into a novel. And most surprising and amazing is author’s note saying all these stories, both historical and real in book, are based on true stories.
Best part of the book is Janice’s story. It is kind of mystery in the book. Janice and Mrs B’s conversations is another best thing in book and many things are revealed through it. There is so much depth in their conversations that I want to keep reading those parts again and again. It is also intriguing to see what Mr NoNoNotYet will do about Mrs B’s accommodation and if he will be successful in it.
Climax is amazing and very realistic with all revelations, Janice’s fear and guilt, Mr NoNoNotYet finding out about Janice and his mother’s conspiration. There is so much happening between climax and end and I suggest you pay attention to this part most and also to Janice and Mrs B’s conversations. I loved how author wrapped all stories. There is no happily-ever-after endings for all of them but it’s satisfying and uplifting.
Why 4.5 stars-
My only small complaint is slow pace. Often I needed to take a break but it’s not exactly negative point. This book made me pay attention to each details of the stories and that might be the reason I or anyone cannot go faster with this story. I suggest you be patient with this book and you will see this is truly a gem.
Overall, The Keeper of Stories is beautiful, interesting, heartfelt, and perfectly written Women-Centric fiction.
I highly recommend this if you like,
Amazing stories within a story
Lots of character depth
The theme of misplaced guilt
Intriguing subplots or stories
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