This is my very first book discussion on my A Book A Week Blog, where once a week I will introduce my readers to a book I have read. Each blog will begin with a small note about a writer whose birthday is celebrated today.
June 1 – Happy birthday, Australian author Colleen McCullough. She was born June 1, 1937. She wrote the novel The Thorn Birds in 1977.
Now, on to my very first book discussion.
I have chosen the novel SECRET KEEPERS by Mindy Friddle as my first book. It is one I read recently and was swept away by the writing, strong sense of place, and engaging characters.
SECRET KEEPERS is set in the fictitious town of Palmetto, South Carolina. The year is 1987–an era of big hair, leg-warmer aerobic classes, and Sanka coffee.
The once robust city of Palmetto held much promise; now it is in a state of stagnation, as are the lives of many of its residents.
Seventy-two-year-old Emma Hanley’s dream is to take “The Trip” and travel Europe. Her husband Harold isn’t as enthused. His unseemly death and burial are cause for consternation and scandal among some family members and the town gossips.
Emma’s life has been one of sorrow, missed opportunities, and shouldering responsibilities for others. Her grown daughter Dora has settled into a joyless marriage. The former flower child shed her Hippie’s beads decades earlier after her brother Will was killed in Vietnam. Emma’s son Bobby, brilliant as a youngster, suffers from an illness that has erased his once-promising future. Dora’s son Kyle is torn between trying to please his strict, Bible-thumping father and his teenage longings to experience life.
When Dora’s old flame, Jake Carey, returns to town and begins a landscaping business, secrets are unearthed and the town is transformed into something magical.
The beguiling cover of SECRET KEEPERS, with its boots/planters, bring to mind many of the characters in Friddle’s novel–worn out and damaged, but still functional and capable of letting beauty shine through.
SECRET KEEPERS is a beautifully written novel of love and loss and renewal. Friddle’s warm and engaging novel of life in a decaying southern town sparkles with memorable characters and a story that will linger long after turning the last page. In addition to being an acclaimed writer, Friddle is a Master Gardner, and her respect for the beauty of nature shines throughout her novel. Donna Volkenannt