Friday, 30 September 2016

The Secret - Kathryn Hughes

Mary has been nursing a secret.

Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.
Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret.

What I thought: 

I had heard so much about the author's previous novel, The Letter, but I never actually got around to reading it. Then, when I saw the cover of The Secret, I found it just too enticing and I knew that I had to make it my next read.

The story begins in 1975 when after marrying her childhood sweetheart three years ago, Mary Roberts is delighted to be told she's pregnant at last. March 2016 and we meet Michael and Beth and their very poorly son, Jake, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Mary was Beth's mum and has recently died. While sorting through her personal belongings, Beth comes across a newspaper cutting. Then we travel back to July 1976, and Selwyn Price, landlord of the Taverners pub, arranges a bus trip to Blackpool for a group of family and friends.

Now I was a teenager in the late 1970s and I have to say that the author captured the very essence of that era. I was thrilled to be reminded of things that I'd long since forgotten. Rise 'N' Shine, from what I can remember, it was synthetic orange crystals, that when mixed with water, supposedly made 'fresh' orange juice. I actually loved it! Fine Fare and Rumbelows, names of shops that I haven't heard of for years but were so popular at the time.

Back to the book, and after what I thought was a rather slow, patchy start, the pages just melted away as all the threads knitted together to make a truly delightful read. I fell in love with so many of the wonderful characters who play a part in this touching story. It would be such a shame to reveal the storyline because it truly is full of hidden secrets and tragic events.

It's a book that just got better and better. Funny yet sad. Tragic but uplifting. It's a highly recommended read from me and I'll definitely be reading everything else by this author!

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