Told from the point of view of four family members, The Secrets We Keep, by Coronation Street scriptwriter Jonathan Harvey, is a funny and poignant story.
It’s hard being that woman, the one whose husband disappeared. It’s made me quite famous. I just wish it was for something else.
He went out five years ago for a pint of milk and never came back. So here I am with a daughter who blames me for all that’s wrong in the world, a son trying his best to pick up the pieces and a gaggle of new neighbours who are over friendly, and incredibly nosy.
Then I find a left luggage ticket in the pocket of one of his old coats and suddenly I’m thinking . . . What if he’s not dead? What if he’s still out there somewhere?
You think you have the perfect life, the perfect kids, and then it’s all turned inside out. What if I don’t like what I find? And is it a chance I’m willing to take?
The Secrets We Keep is a character-driven story and is told through the voices of all four members of the Bioletti family. At the start of the novel Danny is standing on the cliff and it’s a long time waiting before I found out if he really killed himself and why. Why would he do this to his wife and children? This novel focuses on much more than on the missing person of this family though.
16 year old daughter Cally is dreaming of becoming a famous model and wants to take her first steps in the business after being discovered by a scout, even though her mother Natalie wants her to focus on getting a degree first. She’s headstrong though and she will fight for her dream to come true. Her gay older brother Owen is in a relationship with Matty and he struggles with his relationship. Cally often gave jibes to her brother about his being gay but I know she never meant it in a derogatory manner, she was just this cheeky teen. It was totally cool as far as I’m concerned.
Don’t let the luggage ticket fool you, it is this discovery that makes Natalie spring into action but I never actually found out what was in the luggage or why he left both luggage and ticket behind. It is only a means to crack the story open and while Natalie is finding out her husband Danny kept some things from her the author dives into Danny’s past. Danny recounts his life from the time he was a young boy and this section of the novel was the most compelling for me. His teenage life was very hard, he even slept on the streets before meeting Natalie and I felt for him in these sections. It also felt like he loved her the minute he saw her so it was a big mystery to me why he would walk out on his family.
I sort of received an answer in the end why he did what he did but it didn’t entirely satisfy me. The sympathy he had built up was slowly evaporating. He could have gotten a divorce surely if he wanted an escape. Then at least his wife and kids would have had closure and known what had happened to him.
The last 20 pages or so also felt a little rushed and it wasn’t wrapped up like I would have wanted it. Owen receives an important visit for example but you don’t know how that unfolds anymore. The lingering feeling after I finished reading remains that Danny is quite egoistic and thinks only of himself which is a bit disappointing after all.
I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.