Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS Landmark
Publication Date: 7/1/2015
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
A special thank you to SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
THE SECRETS WE KEEP, an exploration of grief, secrets, betrayal, and love of a marriage – a powerful, yet uplifting debut novel by Stephanie Butland.
Michael Gray, age 37 has drowned in Butler’s Pond on a late Sunday night. While walking his dog, Pepper, and spots a 19-year old Kate Micklethwaite in trouble in the water and dives in the freezing lake to save her. Michael, a brave police officer was an important member of the community, and left behind widowed wife, Elizabeth.
Michael and Elizabeth met when they were traveling around Australia. Less than forty-eight hours from the knock on the door –would mark the Before and After of Elizabeth’s life. She then begins to worry about the night he died. She continues waiting for him to return, thinking it is a horrible dream.
Kate is home from the hospital and her heart labors and burns under the weight of Michael Gray’s death, and when interviewed she recalls nothing more of what happened that night.
Thereafter, we hear from Elizabeth through letters to Mike, of her grief, her breaking heart. About 60% through the book, we finally get glimpses into the awaited secrets of the marriage, the ones Elizabeth is drowning in.
The author keeps you in suspense regarding the events of the dreadful night. Why was Kate in the water and why did Mike drown versus Kate? What really happened that night?
Some reviewers mention the book is drawn out, which it can be at times, especially the first half. You may get impatient with Elizabeth’s grief, until discovering there is much more. This is when the pain, loss and the devastation moves to a different level; when everything is not as it appears. There is something deeper, and this is the real beauty of the novel and the writing.
Elizabeth’s letters seem at times like she is in denial, naïve; however, as we move on, you see the shift; the change in her, as she goes through the emotions, and steps of grief- until she gets to the anger and hatred part. She wants answers to all her questions, doubts, fears- the what ifs, the where, and the why?
A complex novel with an unraveling of lives, secrets, a past. Even though a novel of grief, loss, and sadness; ultimately we hear from Mike, a final letter written to Elizabeth, which may change the way you think about the relationship, and his love for his wife. The explosive ending will reveal the events leading up to that tragic night, for answers behind the mystery.
An ongoing theme of water, representing significance in many ways and lives throughout the novel. Water, a flowing element – symbolizing purity, healing, and cleansing; life, rebirth, and happiness. Water not only represents all things good, but bad too. As we see the grief, as it also represents death, entrapment, life storms, sinking, and drowning.
Recommend to those readers preferring a more psychological, emotional and deeper read. Look forward to reading more by Butland!