Thursday, December 10, 2020


Title: The Secrets Between Us
Author: Black Swan
Publisher: Plough Publishing House
Pages: 544
My GoodReads Rating: 

Devastated by the loss of her child due to stillbirth and the subsequent and the subsequent unfaithfulness of her partner, Laurie, Sarah is an emotional wreck. On a trip to Sicily with her sister May and brother-in-law Neil, Sarah meets Alexander in the hotel in which they are staying. She is drawn to Alex and his nearly-seven-year-old son Jamie, whose mother Genevieve has left their home.

After an impulsive act of sex, Alex invites Sarah to come and stay with him in his home in Burrington Stoke, look after his son as a “paid nanny and housekeeper” and explore their relationship. Sarah agrees, even though her family warns her not to go. She feels that both she and Alex have experienced heartbreak and that they might be good for each other. Also, having lost her child, her mothering instinct is aroused at the sight of Jamie, and she insists on going.

But Sarah’s dream of setting up home with Alex and his son seems doomed. Jamie is deeply suspicious of Sarah. Genevieve’s wealthy family, especially her mother Virginia Churchill, is standoffish, while her step sister, Claudia, is friendly towards her. But Sarah knows that the animosities persist. The villagers are resentful of Sarah, seeing her presence as evidence of Alex’s crime, and of his shamelessness in bringing home his mistress.

Sarah is torn between the suspicion that Alex may be responsible for Genevieve’s disappearance and her love for him. Could he really have done away with her? Could a man like him, so charming and loving and kind, be capable of killing to get his way? Could he kill again?

The book is a re-telling of Daphne du Maurier’s classic, Rebecca. Genevieve is perfect, like Rebecca. Everyone in the village liked her and everyone, especially her own rich family, the Churchills who own the quarry and a great deal of property in nearly half the village, is suspicious of Alex, believing that he has something to do with Genevieve’s disappearance. That he is hiding something. Alex himself thinks that she has gone away to be with some lover that he doesn’t know of.

Like Manderley, the village of Burrington Stoke is picturesque, despite the quarry in the neighbourhood. There is also the hint of a ghost that plagues Sarah. The descriptions of the ghost are good, scaring Sarah and us, while we are at it. Sarah believes that the ghost she is seeing is that of Genevieve.



I feel conflicted about Sarah. Like her family, I disagreed with her decision and thought Alex to be too good to be true. Another thing that seemed odd was how she was so fond of Jamie, particularly when the kid didn’t bond with her at all.

Of the minor characters, I loved both May and Neil. Neil, in particular, was totally supportive of Sarah. Both of them were willing to do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

Even Claudia, Genevieve’s half-sister, and Betsy, the woman from the village who is the only one who holds a completely unselfish friendship with Sarah, stand out of the crowd. They were very real.

Another thing I enjoyed were the detailed descriptions, with just enough detail to paint a word picture. The house, Avalon, was big and rambling and creaky, adding to the atmosphere.


I lost interest in the book for a brief while. I only plodded on because I have a thing about not giving up on books. At 544 pages, this one was way too long. A good 200 pages could have been cut down, if Alex had quit brooding and come clean with Sarah.

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