Book Review: Past Secrets by Cathy Kelly.

past-secrets-cathy-kelly-goodreadsNo. of pages: 615 pages

Publisher: HarperTorch

Year: September 13, 2012

Setting: Ireland

Official Website: Cathy Kelly

Past Secrets by Cathy Kelly was quite a pleasant book to read but it just added more nights of sex, secrets, lies and betrayal to my misery. Which is a shame as I still have many more Cathy Kelly books to go in the bag of books I borrowed from a friend. Not wanting to be a party pooper to the author’s books but I think I may have overdone it with constantly reading the same kind of books too often in a row.

What I should be doing is interspersing them with the other books that I have that aren’t too full of sugary sweet romance, buckets of tears and hidden stashes of secrets. And to think I thought I was done with Dorothy Koomson’s stuff of reality nightmares but when I decided to continue going down that path, I knew it was a mistake. As it is, life itself is pretty harsh, I didn’t think I needed more reminders of how people aren’t always what they seem or claim to be.

There were too many nights of drama and debauchery for me. One too many. About how lying never helps any situation and it only gets worse when your lies get out of hand. About how it’s better to be yourself than to be someone you’re not or to be someone you think the other person wants you to be. I knew it was time to take a short break from the stuff that reality is made of and go for something a little more me. Like I said, reality is hard enough as it is and I don’t need a book to rub it in. So I went with Skios by Michael Frayn. Which I will talk about when I’ve finished reading it.

Blurb from Goodreads:

The women of Summer Street have their fair share of secrets and soon learn that if you keep a secret too long it will creep out when you least expect it…
The warm and moving new novel from the No. 1 Bestselling author of Always and Forever.
Keep a secret too long and it will creep out when you least expect it…

Behind the shining windows and rose-bedecked gardens of Summer Street, single mother Faye, hides a secret from her teenage daughter Amber. Whilst thirty-year-old Maggie, hides one from herself.

When fiery Amber decides to throw away her future for love, and Maggie finds herself back home looking after her sick mother, secrets begin to bubble over.

The only person on Summer Street who appears to know all the answers is their friend Christie Devlin. Wise and kind, she can see into other people’s hearts to solve their problems. Except that this time, she has secrets of her own to face.

Now, the thing with secrets is that they have a tendency to come out when you least expect them. Not to mention, secrets also have a tendency to rear their ugly heads when you’re going through a tough time and the last thing you need are for them to make things worse.

About the Book

Faye Reid is a single mother to teenager Amber Reid who dresses conservatively and holds down a respectable job in a recruitment office. Despite her professional front, she hides a secret from her daughter about the whereabouts and history of her father. Amber Reid has no idea who her father is and how her mother ended up single-handedly bringing her up. Amber, however, had been studying for her final exams and with a neat talent for art and painting, everyone is expecting her to go to art college. But she herself harbours a secret that she has no idea how to break it to her mother — Amber has no plans of going to college at all! She wants to run away with her boyfriend Karl and his band of musicians as they prepare to go on a tour to New York.

Maggie Maguire has been living with her lecturer boyfriend Grey Stanley for as long as she can remember until one day, she finds him in bed in their apartment with another woman. A young student in her twenties. At the same time, her mother falls down and injures her leg. Her father is clueless about household chores and looking after his wife so he calls his daughter to move back in to help out. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time for Maggie to decide what to do so she ditches Grey and moves back home with her parents.

Even Christie Devlin, the friend whom they turned to for advice, is hiding a secret herself. Despite her happy marriage to James Devlin and with two adult sons who now have their own families, Christie is afraid that her secret affair with Carey Wolensky, an artist, will surface and destroy the trust, happiness and joy that she has built so carefully with her husband. Everyone has secrets, so it seemed, in the book but no one wanted to be the one to be honest and upfront about it. Because they knew that their secrets will most certainly tear down the emotional bunkers that they have carefully constructed for the safekeeping of their secrets.

What I Thought

Past Secrets was definitely a light and humorous book to read with the plenty of dialogue, description and action. It was a story that talked about fresh beginnings no matter where the characters were, no matter what had happened to them in the past that caused each of them to look for a clean slate and start anew. It is inspiring to read about each character’s journey through hell which made them suffer at first but ultimately, you knew they would eventually triumph. Also, each character had realistic and compelling personalities that was enough for readers to bond and relate with.

The book was pretty decent as there is nothing new about sex, lies and secrets or the petty dramas surrounding friendships and relationships. After all, Dorothy Koomson has been there and done that for me. I still have a string of Cathy Kelly books to read so I think I’ve probably learnt my lesson too. One emotional book at a time, alternating with some of my own less emotional and much darker books. It’s probably just me but I can’t really ride the emotional rollercoaster all the time, even if it was just a story.


Book Review: Homecoming by Cathy Kelly.

Book Review Template

After having tortured myself with the earlier chapters of The Splintered Kingdom by James Aitcheson, you can only imagine my relief when I decided to abandon it and start reading Homecoming by Cathy Kelly instead. This is the second book written by an Irish author, and the next book I’m about to read also happens to be written by an Irish author!

It felt so good to finally read a good book. This is the kind of book that I would take to the couch with me on a rainy Friday night with a hot mug of goodness (mostly tea these days, not so much coffee anymore) and a plate of cookies. Or perhaps to the nearest cafe with a steaming cup of green tea latte.

As described by Goodreads:

Sometimes the only way forward . . .

They say you can’t go home again, and truth be told, Eleanor Levine never planned to. Yet here she is, back in Ireland after a lifetime in New York, moving her treasured possessions—including her mother’s handwritten book of recipes for living—into a cozy Dublin apartment. With its picturesque Georgian villas, redbrick houses, and central garden, the Golden Square is just large enough for anonymity. At least, that’s what actress Megan Bouchier hopes, when a tabloid scandal sends her fleeing the paparazzi, back to the place she felt safest as a child.

. . . is the road that takes you home.

Rae, manager of the local cafÉ, has noticed the lovely, sad-eyed girl. There’s little Rae doesn’t notice, and every customer feels nourished by her food and her kindness, yet Rae’s own secret remains hidden. Connie O’Callaghan—with her fortieth birthday looming—has a secure teaching job, an abundance of blessings . . . and a deep-seated loneliness only her new neighbor Eleanor understands. And as the lives of the four women intertwine, each in her own way is learning about love, letting go—and that finding your way can lead to the last place you expected.

The story began with Eleanor Levine, a retired psycho-analyst who returned to Ireland on a whim in a bid to escape the death of her husband, Ralf, from New York. She left behind their daughter, Naomi, and granddaughter, Gillian, in hopes of searching for herself and to recover from the shock of her husband’s death, while trying to come to grips with reality.

It then follows the journey made by Megan Bouchier, an actress who had everything – fame and fortune – only to throw it away when she messed up big time. Her affair with one of Hollywood’s leading actors shattered her career and she had to make herself scarce in Ireland by hiding in her aunt’s home.

Rae Kerrigan and Connie O’Callaghan were naturally Irish by birth and they have no reason to run from anything. Except that they had their own share of personal problems that were already there with them. Rae Kerrigan, having been pregnant at the age of sixteen had given up her daughter for adoption because she was unable to care for  her. She felt as though her world had crumbled and tore herself into pieces ever since then. Connie O’Callaghan, on the other hand, had her happily-ever-after shredded when her then-fiance, Keith, had called off the engagement and left her broken-hearted. Closing in on her forties, she was worried that she would never find another man who could mend the broken heart.

Each chapter tells the tale of each woman, with ample space for her background story to grow. There is the occasional flashback brought forward so the reader will know what had transpired in the past and why the woman was now here in Golden Square. Which is good because I don’t like books that don’t care to tell me what happened in the past and why. I don’t particularly enjoy wracking my brains and trying to solve the puzzle. If I wanted a book like that, I’d have gone for mysteries and thrillers.

These four women have vastly different backgrounds, yet at some point of the story, they all end up coming together and getting very involved in each other’s lives. They start off as strangers before moving on to being acquaintances, and then becoming fast friends. Each of them will find that neither are immune to the challenges that life is about to throw at them, and that the only way to move forward is to stop thinking about the past. What’s done is done.

Author Cathy Kelly even managed to find a way to weave a lesson amidst the tale that tells you this: You can never run away from your problems because no matter where you go, your problem(s) will go with you too. Which is true. You can’t just sweep it under the carpet and pretend it never existed. You have to either stay and face the music, or forever be someone else by making a permanent change. Even so, there is no way that you can find peace with yourself unless you acknowledge and accept the mistake(s) that you have made and take the first step to making amends.