I’m delighted to be kicking off the publication day celebrations for Faith Hogan’s second novel Secrets We Keep. In case you missed it, you can read my review of her first book, My Husband’s Wives, by clicking here and a guest post from Faith by clicking here. I’m also really pleased to be able to offer you the chance to win a e-book copy of Secrets We Keep. More about that later.
I absolutely loved Secrets We Keep and found myself very emotionally involved with the characters. Secrets We Keep tells the stories of Iris and Kate and the secret Iris has long held within her heart. Kate is Iris’s great niece although they did not meet until Kate’s grandmother’s funeral, Iris’s sister. The two sides of the family had had little to do with each other over the years in order to protect this secret. Kate is a high-flying divorce lawyer in London but, increasingly dissatisfied with her life, she visits her great aunt and uncle in the small seaside town of Ballytokeep on the west coast of Ireland and falls in love with the place. She decides to start a new life in the town bringing the old bath-house back to life. As well as a chance to heal her broken heart after being jilted ten years ago, she finds new friendship and possible new love too.
What Faith Hogan has done so brilliantly in this book is to show all the different relationships in the book from Iris’s passionate first loves to the tenderness of the love between the elderly Iris and her husband Archie. Iris’s hopes and dreams and disappointments were clear to see and the heavy burden of her secret was sad to read about. Later in the book we discover she was not the only one with knowledge of that secret which was even more heartbreaking. The close bond between Archie and Iris was beautifully drawn and all the more poignant as Archie begins to slip into dementia and Iris fears losing him.
I particularly enjoyed the way Iris’s story unfolded, moving effortlessly between the past and the present, revealing just a little at a time and often leaving each time period with a mini cliffhanger.
Kate was a character I really warmed to. I couldn’t help but feel for her as she felt unable to put her past behind her. You might think that ten years is long enough for anyone to get over a broken relationship but as you will read, there were reasons which made it very difficult for Kate. What I loved about her was that she was actually such a strong character. She really took a risk leaving her law career behind her and taking on what seemed like a thankless restoring the old bath-house to its former glory. She is a loyal friend to Rita who is in a loveless marriage and really helps her to stand up for herself. She is so loving to the family she had never known and so supportive. As she works away renovating the bath-house she too comes across things which might just unlock more secrets from the past.
I must mention the idyllic sounding setting of Ballytokeep, by the wild sea. Although Ballytokeep with its bathhouse is a fictional place, the author says a similar bathhouse still operates at Enniscrone in County Sligo. I looked it up after I had read the book and have to say it is exactly as I pictured it when reading. Faith Hogan has painted a wonderful picture of the rugged cliffs, the wild Atlantic sea, the houses nestled round the coast, the beautiful windswept beach and showed the strong sense of community. I could completely understand why Kate felt welcomed and at home there, even though it was so different from her old life in London. As Kate says: “She only had to walk out her front door and she was on permanent summer holidays.” There is definitely a nurturing and healing feel to the town which made it sound such a wonderful place to live.
This is a beautifully told story, compelling and full of emotion. It is a hopeful look at love, loss and second chances and I really recommend it.
My grateful thanks to the author for inviting me to read her lovely book and to the publisher for providing a copy via Netgalley. Secrets We Keep is published today by Aria and you can order the Kindle version online here for only £2.99. It is also available in paperback.
If my review has made you want to read the book here is your chance to win a copy. Click the link below for your chance to win. Open internationally, you have until midnight on Friday (UK time) to enter. The winner will be contacted within 24 hours.