THE THRIFT SHOP DIARY
a novel by Marina Delaney
When her parents are suddenly killed in a freak car crash, Ellie Chase — already hanging by a thread — unravels. Just weeks earlier, she received a strange and unexpected phone call from her mother Sophie to arrange a private talk. Though obviously distressed, Sophie insisted there was no emergency and so, with summer vacations already in place, they put off their meeting until Labor Day. But then the accident happened, leaving Ellie with shattering questions and regrets: Why didn’t she seize the moment and visit her mother right away? Had her parents been arguing the night of the crash? Could Ellie have prevented their death, had she’d acted sooner? What had ‘Maman’ wanted to tell her in confidence?
Beset by unanswered questions, Ellie begins a diary to think things through. Eventually, Ellie’s thoughts lead to a box of inherited books which she consigns to a favorite antique dealer. Inside the box, they discover a set of items that Ellie comes to see as clues to unlock her mother’s secret. A postcard of Vermeer’s A Maid Asleep, an obscure poem written by a member of the French Resistance, a photograph of Sophie as a student at the Sorbonne, underlinings in a leather bound volume by Marcel Proust. Might these curious snippets be connected? Might they help decode Sophie’s message from the grave? They will, but not without devastating consequences, as Ellie’s search for closure ends in dark truths about herself and her life.
Written in the tradition of literary sleuths that veer away from crime-solving, The Thrift Shop Diary delves into hidden worlds, past and present. Inside Ellie’s diary, thrifting is the driving force that touches every aspect of her being — from rousing distant memories to designer dressing on the cheap. Through her escapades of treasure hunts in bargain bins and steamer trunks, a tangled web unfolds — and the mystery of Maman is solved.
Click here to view a ten minute recorded reading, excerpts from chapter one, which was submitted as part of Spring Writes!, an annual festival in Ithaca, New York presented through Zoom in 2020.
To download a FREE copy of the first chapter click the link below.
Ellie intuits that Sophie's secret is locked inside a set of clues found in a box from her attic. The box includes a postcard of the painting A Maid Asleep by Johannes Vermeer; an early French edition of the novel Swann's Way by Marcel Proust; a Paris Opera ticket to Mozart's The Magic Flute; and a French poem, 'Elle' which she interprets as a call to action. Ellie senses that they're connected -- and a tarot reading corroborates her hunch -- but how?
Told through daily iterations in twelve monthlong chapters, Ellie's journal shifts back and forth between light-hearted escapades of thrifting in a quaint New England college town and the mystery of her mother spurred by mounting clues, a guilty conscience, memories and dreams, and a sprinkling of ominous tarot readings. Along the way, as the two storylines intertwine, we meet four generations of Ellie’s close-knit family — in the States and in Paris — and a host of unforgettable thrift shop characters.
Thrifting is a driving force in my life. It’s my crack. It makes me tick."
Excerpt from January 6th, The Thrift Shop Diary
The Thrift Shop Diary is a well wrought mystery and, as an antique dealer, I was captured by the life of the objects, as well as the hunt.”
Delaney beautifully captures the inner voice of a woman belonging to the 'late-millennium' generation, coming to terms with the whole course of her life: its accumulated wisdom, love for home and family, appreciation for the small things -- and, of course, life's magical surprises. Wrapped around a love for art and an engrossing mystery, The Thrift Shop Diary is a journey of self-discovery and acceptance."