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The Secrets They Kept by Jenny Lynch

Helena Anderson is raised by her strict Nan and her father, who is a hard-working doctor so she seldom gets to spend much time with him. Her mother died when she was three years old in 1967, but her Nan and father refuse to discuss her mother’s unexplained death or even talk about her in any way. There aren’t even photographs of her late mother around the home. Helena is consumed with curiosity at various stages in her young life about her mother, but for years the secrets surrounding her mother’s death remain firmly off reach to her.

But as a young woman, and now working as a journalist, Helena embarks on a quest to learn the truth about her mother’s life and death, and in doing so, she delves into her own identity. And what she finds is surprising, and it challenges the way she has been brought up by her God-fearing, strait-laced family.

Jenny Lynch is a former editor of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, and she has written four non-fiction books, but this is her first foray into fiction. Jenny has created a compelling central character with Helena in The Secrets They Kept, a heroine who is just as interesting as a young girl dreaming up what her mother might have been like, to the young woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery. The sections where Helena is working in various journalism roles are highly entertaining, and I found myself wondering about the muses for Helena’s various colleagues. Her Nan is particularly well drawn also, an upright woman hiding many secrets that are only revealed at the novel’s end.

The Secrets They Kept is an accomplished, compelling debut, with a plot line that will surprise and a central character you will fall in love with.


Review: Karen McMillan

Mary  Egan Publishing


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