Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty

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Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Welcome reissue of this beautiful novel drawing on the flooding of villages to create the Ladybower reservoir. Twins Grace and Maddie reflect one another perfectly, until cruelly separated - a metaphor for the loss of a way of life.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Andersen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1849392358

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Every now and again them there publisher people do this reviewer a big favour and reissue a book that she missed first time around. This is one of those now and thens. Anybody who loves words - child or adult - will love the way Berlie Doherty writes. Her graceful, lyrical prose just floats from the page and you lose yourself in the worlds she creates. She's known for her versatility too - writing realistic books about contemporary issues, fantasies and, as here with Deep Secret, historical novels.

The book is based on the flooding of two villages to build the Ladybower reservoir in Derbyshire and takes place just after World War II. A tiny village, used to the old ways, is issued with a compulsory purchase order so that a reservoir can be built to serve the city and its new ways of heavy industry. Just as a decision about this community tragedy is being reached, the village suffers an individual tragedy in the accidental death of a young girl who lives there. The narrative follows the grieving period for both and in many ways the loss of Grace is a metaphor for the loss of the village. Madeleine, Grace's twin, must find a way to move on and start afresh, and the community as a whole must do the same.

It's sticky with the entire gamut of human experience: love, loss, jealousy, grief, youth and old age. And it's about redemption too - Madeleine does a terrible thing in the aftermath of her sister's death and it's a secret that burns her. Other villagers suffer in similar ways and they must all come to terms with the past before they can see a path for the future. It's beautifully written, of course - sensitive and thoughtful and wonderfully evocative. Each character is utterly credible: the twins with their almost telepathic bond; Colin, the vicar's son, who fights against his prescribed future; Seth, the blind boy, whose disability lends him a sensitivity that is both gentle and wise.

If, like me, you missed this one the first time around, make sure you don't neglect Deep Secret a second time. It would be a sin.

My thanks to the good people at Andersen Press for sending the book.

They might also enjoy Luke and Jon by Robert Williams, another rich, gorgeous tale of grief, friendship and moving on. The Great Harlequin Grim by Gareth Thompson has equally lyrical descriptions of landscape, in a story of first love, parochialism and the pack instinct.

Buy Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty at

Buy Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Deep Secret by Berlie Doherty at


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