I received this book for free from Library for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.Secret Lives by Diane Chamberlain
Published by HarperCollins
Publication Date: Feb 1991
Amazon Kindle* | Amazon Paperback*
Title: Secret Lives
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Purchased from Amazon when Ms. Chamberlain offered to donate all proceeds to Hurricane victims in New Jersey
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
In a Nutshell: Wonderful story about finding where you come from, forgiveness and the trials of true love
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Actress Eden Riley’s decision to make a film about her mother plunges her into a shattering confrontation with her own past, irrevocably altering her life and the lives of those she loves. Her mother, Katherine Swift, was a renowned children’s author who died when Eden was very young. Now Eden, recovering from a divorce and disillusioned with her glamorous life, returns to the childhood home of the mother she barely knew. She moves in with her uncle, archaeologist Kyle Swift and his wife, Louise.
Eden gets more than she bargained for when Kyle gives her the journal her mother had kept from the age of thirteen until her death. Eden is spellbound by the powerfully written, intimate diary that chronicles a life of hardship, madness and tragedy. But her fascination turns to horror when she discovers the shocking truth about her mother’s life.
Eden turns for comfort to Ben Alexander, Kyle’s colleague, not knowing that Ben has a secret of his own that could ruin Eden and her career. Now Eden must make a heartbreaking decision as she struggles to lay the ghosts of the past to rest and come to terms with her own future.
Shifting gracefully between Eden’s world and Katherine’s, Secret Lives seduces with the power of its images and the lyricism of its prose.
Diane Chamberlain immerses the reader in the story, creating realistic, flawed characters with all sorts of troubles. She describes their emotional state so well that I feel like I’m a character in the story myself and emotionally vested in their well-being. I enjoy getting to know what’s going on in the character’s minds and gives the reader a unique understanding of what drives the characters to make the decisions they do.
The main story revolves around Eden and her decision to make a film about her mother’s reclusive and seemingly troubled life. I agonized along with Eden as she makes discoveries she doesn’t really want to hear the truth about from the words of her mother’s ghost. Her mother is admittedly strange but her journal writing is simple, honest and poignant. I marveled at the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and the mysterious caverns within. The characters, Uncle Kyle and his colleague Ben, work on an archaeological dig site and found it interesting their methods for uncovering knowledge about the area’s history.
Ben’s story is intriguing as well and he harbors his own secrets. He was married with a young daughter when his world comes crumbling down around him. He loses his wife,the daughter he adores and his reputation. He moves to the Valley where he struggles to make ends meet working on the dig site with Kyle. Eden and Ben meet and couldn’t be more different in their lifestyle but come to find they are both trying to uncover the truth no matter how much it hurts them.
Eden also learns much about Uncle Kyle and Aunt Lou. Uncle Kyle is her mother’s brother and plays a key role in her mother’s journal, they are as close as siblings can be and endure a difficult childhood. Although Eden grew up with Kyle and Lou after her mother’s death, she learns more about Kyle through her mother’s journal than he ever let on before. Eden carries her own secret guilt for the way she treated her uncle and aunt and what caused her to leave them for the bright lights of Hollywood.
The book is interwoven with many secrets and subplots but Ms. Chamberlain’s writing is so relatable and easy-to-read that I just don’t want to put it down till I find out what happens. Why was Eden’s mother so strange or was she simply misunderstood? What secrets was Kyle keeping all these years? Will Eden and Ben find the truth they are looking for? Will Eden and Ben live happily ever after? Well I’m not going to tell you, you’d just have to read it to find out!
Design Notes: Thanks to Kimba at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer for the blogging tips on how to get the purple box around the synopsis and I got the idea from Michelle at That’s What She Read for the idea to put a quick one-liner summary at the top of the review post. I love these two book blogs so be sure to check them out!
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Have you read any of Diane Chamberlain’s books? Which ones? I haven’t read one that I haven’t loved! What books have you enjoyed that dealt with uncovering secrets? I’d love to hear your thoughts and as always happy reading!