“Coco Swan has always been embarrassed by her name. With a name like Coco, she thinks people expect her to be as exotic and glamorous as the famous designer, not an ordinary-looking small-town antiques dealer who could win an award for living cautiously. But when a vintage Chanel handbag turns up in a box of worthless bric-a-brac, Coco’s quiet world is turned upside down. Where did it come from? And is it just coincidence that it’s the same bag Coco’s late mother always wanted for her?”
Niamh Greene establishes herself firmly on the chick-lit scene with her heartwarming new novel, Coco’s Secret.
32-year-old Coco Swan has been in the small Irish town of Dronmore all her life, running Swan’s, her family’s antiques shop. Since her mother’s sudden death almost 20 years ago, Coco’s life hasn’t changed a lot. Running the family business takes up most of her time, and when she’s not spending time in the shop with her grandmother, she’s with her friend Cat. Even her love life has stalled – her newly ex-boyfriend has just moved to New Zealand.
But Coco doesn’t realise how massively her life is about to change when she wins a sink, along with a few boxes of miscellaneous items, at an antiques auction. The boxes reveal few saleable trinkets, but right at the bottom of one lies a startling object – a vintage Chanel 2.55 bag. It feels like fate – this is the bag Coco’s mother Sarah had always hoped to buy her; her obsession with Chanel was so great that it inspired her daughter’s name. Then Coco discovers a love letter in the bag’s hidden pocket – and so begins a journey to return the undelivered letter to its intended recipient.
Coco’s determination to complete her mission and reunite the long-lost letter with its rightful owner takes her first across Ireland, then to London, and eventually to Paris – another touch of fate, as it’s where Sarah loved most in the world. Along the way, Coco finds something she didn’t quite bargain for – true love…
Coco’s Secret is a lovely, feel-good novel with a down-to-earth protagonist – Coco is as far from her namesake as possible, and her fashion style is more jeans and t-shirts than designer labels, making for a relatable and likeable main character. Her journey to find the owner of the bag’s long-lost son also results in Coco finding herself, and her place, in the world. This is the first Niamh Greene novel I’ve read, but I hope it won’t be the last – Niamh’s certainly a strong contender in the chick-lit genre.
Many thanks to Penguin for the review copy.