I’ve recently fallen into a reading slump after devouring two series back-to-back. Two sets of trilogies to be exact. I think I had reading burnout – if that’s even possible! After the turmoil of emotions, the late nights and the copious amounts of coffee, I felt I was in need of something easier, something light-hearted.
I was recommended The Keeper of Stories, by Sally Page as a bit of a ‘short and sweet’ read. Short and sweet is absolutely what this book was. With everything from laugh out loud moments to a few held breath ones, this book was the tonic for that reading slump I just could not get out of.
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Janice can’t recall what started her collection. Maybe it was in a fragment of conversation overheard whilst cleaning? Before long, Janice notices 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…
Janice is a cleaner. Someone who would typically blend into the background whilst she goes about her business. Yet, when Janice starts cleaning for Mrs B – a shrewd and tricksy woman in her nineties – she meets someone who wants to hear her story. For Janice, she is the keeper of stories and she doesn’t have her own story to tell. At least, not one she feels she can share.
We are introduced to our lead, Janice. A cleaner who goes about her days working within the houses for her regulars. Janice loves her regular clients; apart from one couple, “Mrs YeahYeahYeah” & “Mr NoNoNotNow”. Most of her regulars know nothing about her and Janice continues to listen & collect their stories. Never asking for more, never sharing her own. Her husband knows very little about her and is so self-absorbed that Janice feels she isn’t seen. Blending in, Janice likes it this way. Until one day, she doesn’t.
After being asked by her least favourite couple and regular clients “Mrs YeahYeahYeah” & “Mr NoNoNotNow” to clean for MrNoNoNotNow’s mother, Mrs B, Janices’ story begins to unfold. This story has a dark and unexpected twist part way through which Sally Page does a good job of weaving into the story. I was a little taken aback by it if I am honest as I wasn’t expecting something quite so dark but this little twist did manage to keep the story interesting. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the twist for you!
“I think it’s in people stories that you discover the best of what we can be.”THE KEEPER OF STORIES, SALLY PAGE
Sally Page has created a few notable relationships within this story. She has cleverly weaved in a typical unhappy marriage without focusing too much on the breakdown of this, but instead gives our female lead strength to carve out her next chapter. As a dog lover (obviously), I absolutely adored the relationship Janice has with Mrs YeahYeahYeah’s very sweary Fox Terrier, Decius. Decius’ character had me in absolute stitches most of the time and I just loved the private conversations these two had. It provided the light relief I absolutely needed and could absolutely connect to this relationship. I will say, Marnie isn’t sweary but is just as expressive as you would imagine a very shouty Terrier to be!
Mrs B’s character was very well written and I instantly liked this woman. Sharp, witty but also very intuitive. Mrs B instantly knows that there is more to Janice and whilst trying to uncover her story, they form a heartwarming relationship.
Ultimately, I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book at first. I did think I was in for a romance read but this absolutely didn’t go the way I had anticipated. It is very different from my typical trope but I have to admit, this absolutely got me out of the reading slump I had been in. If you’re looking for something a little light-hearted and not overly taxing, I would recommend you grab a copy of this book.
Rating: ★★★★/5 stars
As always, happy reading.