Thursday 12 February 2015

Book ~ "Secret Lives" (2010) Diane Chamberlain

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. 

Eden is an actress who has recently gone through a divorce.  Her mother, Kate, had written books for children and had died when Eden was young.  Kate had been considered an oddball and Eden decides to make a movie to show everyone what she was really like.  Eden moves back to Virginia for the summer to live with her uncle, Kyle (her mother's brother), and his wife, Lou, to write the screenplay.  In addition to speaking with the locals who knew her mother, Kyle also gives Eden her mother's journals, which she'd started when she was 13.  As she reads them, she discovers some shocking things about her mother.

In the meantime, Eden meets Ben, who works for Kyle.  Ben suffered a tragedy within the last two years and is grateful to Kyle for the job.  Eden and Ben fall in love but Ben's past could rip them apart.

Despite the romance between Eden and Ben, this book covers some very heavy subject matter.  There was a lot going including mental illness, suicide, child molestation, incest, agoraphobia, child abuse and more.

I liked the writing style.  It is written in third person perspective.  The book jumps back and forth from the present with Eden's life and the past with Kate's journal (Kate's journal is dated and in italics).  This book was originally published in 1991 and the author intentionally didn't update it so it is before the days of cell phones, laptops and the Internet.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I questioned Eden's priorities when she found out what Ben's secret was.  Yes, she believed he was innocent but the magnitude of what had happened to him had the possibility of causing repercussions for her career and could give her ex-husband ammunition to seek sole custody of their young daughter.

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