Kate Hunt, a successful London lawyer, takes a much needed break from the ‘rat race’. She escapes in late December by visiting her great aunt Iris who owns a guest house in the charming village of Ballytokeep. Even the name is charming! The peace, the fresh air, and the delightful company of her Aunt Iris and Uncle Archie are just the tonic Kate needs.
On one of her winter beach rambles she comes across a beautiful old bath house, which she discovers is owned by her Aunt and Uncle. They abandoned it years ago, when the memories of the place, and its upkeep, became too much of a burden. On her second visit to the atmospheric old building, she meets a neighboring sheep farmer,
She fell in love with the old building. Since she feels ‘burnt out’ with her legal career in London, and since encountering her ex-fiance there is both humiliating and painful, Kate decides to take the drastic move of ‘upping sticks‘ and moving to Ballytokeep.
With the help of her new friends, she brings the bathhouse into the present. Utilizing it as tearooms with a flat above. She loves that she is near to her great aunt Iris and Uncle Archie – for family is something she has always craved.
Running concurrently throughout the book are Kate’s present day story and the story of Iris and her sister Pamela during the 1950s. Both timelines were engrossing and I enjoyed them equally.
We also have the story of Todd Riggs. An aging rock star who has for decades lived in hotels living the quintessential ‘rock star life’. His excesses and self-abuse turn on him when he suffers a heart attack while on tour. It is a wake-up call for him. He begins to question his lifestyle and yearns for the place of his roots, Ireland. When his supermodel girlfriend does a photo-shoot near an old Norman castle ruin on the coast, he sees this as a unique opportunity and just perhaps the answers to questions he didn’t realize he had. He purchases the old place and has it renovated. It is on the shore near Ballytokeep…
The setting of Ballytokeep was written with vivid description and the writing caused you to be transported there.
“Secrets we keep” is about all types of relationships. Of nurturing, loyal, and loving ones. Of destructive ones that, though exciting, end up draining the life and soul from a person. Parental relationships, illicit relationships, and relationships that can never be resurrected from the past.
It is also about an undelivered letter from Paris. The letter finally reaches its intended recipient sixty years after it was mailed.
An engaging novel of family secrets and finding love in unexpected places, “Secrets we keep” is an entrancing book which I very much enjoyed. It is much more than just a love story, as it delves deeply into the emotions and family secrets of the female characters.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Aria (a digital imprint of Head of Zeus) via NetGalley. I chose to review it as part of my “Reading Ireland Month” challenge.
Faith Hogan gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
Faith Hogan was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers. Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. “The secrets we keep” is her second novel.
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland and still lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children, and an overweight cat.