Review: Secret Keepers
When 72 year old Emma Handley’s husband dies unexpectedly, it turns her world upside down. Not only will she miss the trip of a lifetime that she’d been dreaming of for years but the care of their mentally ill son, Bobby, will fall completely on her. Emma’s son-in-law steps in and tries to take charge but Emma will have none of it.
Emma and her daughter, Dora, aren’t really close. Dora was on the wild side as a child and has married a controlling man. When Jake, her old flame, comes to town and reconnects with her mother and her brother, Dora wonders how her life has turned out this way.
It’s really hard to explain the storyline of Secret Keepers, by Mindy Friddle, but it’s not hard to follow when you read the book. The Handleys are an old Southern family, living in a small South Carolina town. Their world seems neat and orderly, but Harold’s death and Jake’s return shake things up quite a bit. Jake opens a landscaping business and finds some heirloom plants on the grounds of the Handley’s old family home. They seem to affect people in meaningful ways and soon the town is buzzing about the plants.
The Southern setting is perfect – I suspect it’s based on a town near me. Friddle gets a small Southern town just right with its quirky characters, outlandish churches, and gossip.
For me, the best part of the book was the characters. They all have their secrets and some are defined by them. They’re just quirky enough to be interesting. Told from the third person point of view with a touch of humor, the story is told in the present day with flashbacks to the past to fill readers in on characters’ backgrounds.
I enjoyed Secret Keepers quite a bit but I didn’t love it. I was fully engaged with the book while I was reading it but didn’t feel an urgent need to pick it up when I wasn’t. It’s good, solid Southern fiction and will delight most readers.