All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Summer Of Secrets by Barbara Hannay

on November 22, 2018

The Summer Of Secrets 
Barbara Hannay
Penguin Michael Joseph
2018, 384p
Copy courtesy of Michelle from Beauty & Lace

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Sydney journalist Chloe Brown is painfully aware that her biological clock isn’t just ticking, it’s booming. When her long term boyfriend finally admits he never wants children, Chloe is devastated. Impulsively, she moves as far from disappointment as she can – to a job on a small country newspaper in Queensland’s far north.

The little town seems idyllic, a cosy nest, and Chloe plans to regroup and, possibly, to embark on single motherhood via IVF. But she soon realises that no place is free from trouble or heartache. The grouchy news editor, Finn Latimer, is a former foreign correspondent who has retreated after a family tragedy. Emily, the paper’s elegant, sixty-something owner, is battling with her husband’s desertion. Meanwhile, the whole town is worried when their popular young baker disappears.

As lives across generations become more deeply entwined, the lessons are clear. Secrets and silence harbour pain, while honesty and openness bring healing and hope. And love. All that’s needed now is courage…

I’m on a bit of a roll with books read at the moment – this is the third book in a row that I’ve rated 5-stars on Goodreads. I always love Barbara Hannay books, so to be honest it was no surprise how much I ended up enjoying this. Her books are feel good reads for me but always with depth and an intimate look at human relationships.

Chloe is 37 and after devoting the past 7 years of her life to a man who is never going to be on the same page as her, she finds herself leaving Sydney and her job at a girl’s magazine for a post in far North Queensland at a rural newspaper. Before Chloe arrived there was basically a staff of one – former foreign correspondent Finn Latimer, who is used to doing things his way and not having anyone else around. He’s a Serious Journalist and not particularly interested in having someone that he thinks probably wrote quizzes for Dolly magazine helping him out.

Chloe finds herself settling into the small town almost immediately, which is preoccupied by the disappearance of the young man who owns the local bakery. Ben went out for a jog one morning and never came home and the fear is that he stumbled on a meth lab. There’s not much to go on and Chloe befriends his girlfriend Tammy as she gets to know the locals for a series of articles she’s preparing for the local paper. She finds herself accepted into this community, enjoying the change of pace and beauty of the local area. It’s a far cry from inner Sydney and it’s growing on her. As is Finn himself.

I loved the small town feel. I’ve never been to far North Queensland so I appreciated the descriptions of the local farms and the forests, as well as the brightness of the stars at night and even a little cameo by some of the (perhaps not so palatable) wildlife.  Chloe is at that stage of her life where she has to make a decision – she’s already late-30s, which is considered advanced maternal age, especially for someone who will be undertaking having their first child, even though more and more women are having children later. She has recently ended a long-term relationship and if she wants to have a baby before she’s 40, she’s probably going to have to go it alone. I think being somewhere small and quiet gives her time to think, reassess and gain some clarity. It will also give her more freedom to be a working mother as well. However… there’s also Finn in her life and the two of them definitely have a lot of chemistry and I really enjoyed the way she and Finn interacted – it was a bit of a rocky start, with Finn not really buying into her credentials, but Chloe brings a breath of fresh air and colour to the local paper and Finn doesn’t take long to see that she’s really quite valuable. And very helpful when they get a strange clue about Ben, the vanished baker, that leaves Finn free to pursue that line of enquiry. A future together requires both of them taking a strong leap of faith and for Finn, letting go of the past and his guilt over it.

There’s a few other local characters populating this story. Emily is the owner of the paper, who took over from her mother a very formidable woman who is almost 100 and still going strong. Emily and her husband are going through something quite traumatic and they’re both dealing with it in different ways – or trying to. Jess, a young woman Chloe met in the airport after her flight landed, was also leaving to find a new life and I really enjoyed the way her story played out. It was nicely done – I only really started to suspect her true reasons for being in the area shortly before it was revealed. I also liked the inclusion of Emily’s mother’s early life as a pilot in WWII for Britain. This also made me realise that somewhere along the way I’ve missed a book from Barbara Hannay so I’m definitely going to have to rectify that.

Also? I’d kind of like to see Hawk in a future book….


Book #193 of 2018

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