Author: Kathryn Hughes
Source: Received from publisher for an honest review
Blurb: 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.
This could more appropriately be called "The Secrets" because there were definitely a few twists and turns during this plot! The main secret however, relates to Beth who is desperately searching for the truth about her parents and all the other twists do tie in to the main Secret.
The first three quarters of the book were very suspenseful, the perspective switching between Beth in the present day, Mary in the past and a group of other characters on a day trip. Although I definitely preferred reading from the perspectives of Beth and Mary, there was plenty of drama happening in the lives of the other characters. This part of the book was quick and interesting to read because so much was happening - there were secrets being kept and unveiled and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out the truth.
For me there were, at times, just a few too many characters to keep track of. Whilst a few of them were definitely integral to the plot there were some I kept forgetting about and then having to check back a few pages to remind myself of who they were and what part they were playing. This is part of why I preferred the Beth and Mary sections - there were fewer characters and so I had more of an emotional connection with the characters there were. I genuinely cared about Beth, Michael and Jake and I was desperate for them to have a happy future. Mary I felt for, although she only had a few chapters so it was harder to get to know her.
The writing and the speech are very British (I loved every reference to Woolworths) but English is a very diverse language and there were quite a few times where the slang or speech patterns lost me. The good side of this is that the characters had very distinct voices and I could almost hear them speaking their lines. It was a very emotional read at times with plenty of misfortune befalling the characters. It was a little like watching a Soap - as soon as you think things can't get worse they do.
Overall, although this wasn't quite what I was expecting I did enjoy this read. It was very dramatic and Kathryn Hughes definitely managed the separate perspectives quite well. The mystery was compelling and the majority of the characters were appealing and felt very real. I will definitely be interested to pick up more books by Kathryn Hughes.