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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Jonathan Harvey -The Secrets We Keep

review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett may 2016

Danny and Natalie appeared to be a happy, successful couple who ran a thriving nightclub in Manchester. Then Danny walked out one day and never came back. The police discovered his car near Beachy Head, a well known suicide spot, but no body was ever found. Natalie, daughter Cally and son Owen were of course, devastated. Initially, once the tabloid furore calmed down, Natalie kept the family home going, hoping Danny would turn up, but five years later, Natalie has lost the club and has moved with her now-15 year old daughter to a smaller, more modest house in a cul-de-sac where she finds the neighbours over friendly and nosey - and worse, they all seem to know who she is and all about Danny’s disappearance. 

The story is told from the different perspectives of the family members.
Natalie is finding life difficult. She still feels lost and is under a lot of strain, weighed down with responsibility. Owen, at twenty and living with his boyfriend Matty, is still struggling to pick up the pieces of his life. Natalie is rebellious and hostile, a typical stroppy, manipulative teenager. She wants to leave school and be a model. Then there’s Danny’s vicious old mother, who when drunk sends homophobic tirades to Owen and libellous letters to Natalie accusing her of murdering her son.  

The majority of the second part of the book is taken up with Danny's life story, from a vulnerable child in a children's home to a well known, successful club owner. We learn about the secrets Danny has kept over the years and the unsavoury, damaging experiences that had an impact on his subsequent character development and behaviour. This is the story of a family with secrets which all eventually are revealed as the plot unfolds. 

It all kicks off when Natalie finds a lost luggage ticket in the pocket of one of Danny's old coats, dated for the day he disappeared. This motivates her to do some detective work, leading her to find out about a life she never knew Danny had. Feeling even more confused she is determined to find out the truth about her husband and what really happened on that dreadful day…

I listened to the book as a library audiobook and the narrators were excellent. I enjoyed the story. The characters were engaging, it was amusing despite the dark subject, there was intrigue and lots of unexpected twists and turns and drama and the ending is definitely not what I would have predicted. I recommend it. 

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