Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain

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Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This book centres on the Lockwood family. They have plenty of issues to deal with; a daughter about to be released from prison, a confused teenager, a deceased father and a mother in turmoil - and that's just for starters.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: August 2010
Publisher: MIRA
ISBN: 978-0778303879

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This is the third novel I've read by Diane Chamberlain and I felt as if I was visiting an old friend. I enjoyed the other two books and this one looked promising. Although many of the characters spill over from Before The Storm this current book is a stand alone.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular character eg: Maggie, Keith, Sara and told in the first person. It's a great format and is extremely effective. It also helps to draw the reader into the story at the early stages. We are introduced to Andy whose medical condition means that he cannot really interact properly with others; either grown-ups or kids his own age. He's endearing and innocent. And to prove this very point a seemingly innocent action (or to be more specific non-action) of Andy's both hangs in the air throughout the whole novel and has devastating consequences for one character in particular.

Andy's older sister Maggie is being released from prison after serving a short sentence. She is so full of guilt that she can barely operate as a human being. She is petrified of meeting most of the neighbours and old friends. Maggie is a 'nice' girl from a 'good' family and didn't cope at all well with prison life. She may now be free - but she's a wreck and a shadow of her former bubbly self.

In particular, Maggie is dreading meeting Keith again. He's a teenager who's eaten up with hatred and self-loathing. Why? And Chamberlain sets up a convincing line in teenage emotions and how things can get way out of hand. Sexual issues, social, family, peer pressure, they're all here in spades. And at times can be an explosive and heady mix. Who will cope and who won't? Keith doesn't mince his words. He'd like to see his neighbour Maggie burned at a stake. Strong words indeed.

The adorable Andy has some lovely conversations dotted all over the book. He tries so hard to be 'normal', he really does. Everyone loves him and perhaps at times, some members of his family are over-protective. He's fast growing into a young man. And with so much hatred around in this book, Andy's wholesome and affectionate nature is a welcome touch.

Chamberlain takes the reader through Maggie's rehabilitation into the community. Two steps forward and three steps back, most of the time. A new friend appears almost out of the blue and there's a nice aura of mystery about her. All is revealed at the end.

Those readers who love family sagas and all their dramas and complexities will enjoy this novel. I can see it being discussed in many book clubs and it's a good holiday read choice too. All the ingredients are in place for a satisfying read. Chamberlain gives us once again credible characters and interesting plots. Her writing style is easy to read. She's very reader-friendly and I can see her gaining more fans. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you haven't read Before The Storm, you should.

Buy Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain at Amazon.com.


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