I wasn’t sure whether I’d love this book, described as romantic contemporary women’s fiction. Of late I find I’m not always enjoying this genre nearly as much as I did, once upon a time.
But I needn’t have worried. Secrets we keep has completely renewed my faith in books written by women, for women, with a lot of heart and a good few twists along the way. This is so much more than Chick-lit it’s a very competent and compelling dual timeline of love and loss and heartache spanning the generations, set in a small seaside town in Ireland called Ballytokeep.
It is in Ballytokeep that Kate arrives, world weary, tired after years in her successful job as a top London lawyer, looking for a change of pace, a place to calm her soul and put down roots, a place like Ballytokeep.
She comes to stay with elderly distant relative Aunt Iris who, with husband Archie, runs a charming, if slightly faded, guesthouse in this seaside village which charms so many folk who return year after year. You will finish this book desperate to visit Ballytokeep yourself and hoping to meet the new friends you make in the pages of this wonderfully descriptive and atmospheric story.
Then there’s Todd, ageing Rock star who gets a sudden wake up call with a health scare which fundamentally changes his outlook on life and brings him to Ireland for a gentler pace of life.
The stories of all these characters are woven intricately around their pasts and present, many of the secrets being kept evolve around the old Bathhouse, owned by Rita and Archie but lying empty and forlorn waiting for the right person to breathe new life into this seaside spa cum café.
The main historical thread looks back at Iris’s youth and the encounters and men who have moulded her. She has rather a tragic past along with dear, darling Archie who for me was the unsung hero in this book. I was swept along with her story even when she makes a decision or two I found hard to accept.
We also spin back 10 years to discover why Kate is middle aged and single, with little time for romance. There is even a strong story woven around Rita, who becomes a good friend to Kate.
The writing is superb Faith writes like Maeve Binchy for the noughties.
The characters are extremely authentic and their lives detailed, rich and believable. Despite this they are not all perfect, in fact several of them are pretty flawed and boy are there some poor decisions made which have long lasting repercussions. But this entrancing book shows us that, although we must live with our past mistakes, that the past undoubtedly shapes our futures, although we can’t go back and put wrongs right, in moving forward we can atone and come to terms with the secrets hidden in our past.
This book is the most perfect holiday read, one to read whilst relaxing in a vintage tea room with a slice of home-made cake, a cup of coffee in a faded bone china cup and the sound of waves crashing on the shore.
The Blurb - from the Author's own website
Two distant relatives, drawn together in companionship are forced to confront their pasts and learn that some people are good at keeping secrets and some secrets are never meant to be kept.
A bittersweet story of love, loss and life. Perfect for fans of Patricia Scanlan and Adele Parks.
The beautiful old Bath House in Ballytokeep has lain empty and abandoned for decades. For devoted pensioners Archie and Iris, it holds too many conflicting memories of their adolescent dalliances and tragic consequences – sometimes it’s better to leave the past where it belongs.
For highflying, top London divorce lawyer Kate Hunt, it’s a fresh start – maybe even her future. On a winter visit to see her estranged Aunt Iris she falls in love with the Bath House. Inspired, she moves to Ballytokeep leaving her past heartache 600 miles away – but can you ever escape your past or your destiny?
About the Author:
About the Author:
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.
Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It was published by Aria, (Head of Zeus) in 2016. ‘Secrets We Keep,’ is her second novel.
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