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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Her Secret Life

Narrator: Laurel Lefkow

ISBN: 9781835253687

Publisher: Bookouture Audio

Publication Date: 01/31/2024

Format: Other

My Rating: 3.5 Stars (ARC)

I hold my breath as we push the door open. I’m not ready. But I know it’s time. And I know there will be a before and after this moment, the moment we finally discover the secret our mother had kept hidden for all our lives…

I haven’t spoken to my mother or sisters in years, but everything changes when I lose my husband. And I know it’s finally time to tell them why I’ve pushed them away. But as I approach my childhood home, my heart drops at the sight of police tape across the porch, and it shatters when I’m told my mother’s body has been recovered from the lake behind the house. I’m too late.

Pushing all our differences aside, my sisters and I desperately search her house for answers. But something isn’t right. Her clothes are missing, and everything is covered in a thick layer of dust. Our mother hasn’t lived here for months. What has she been keeping from us?

Just as we’re about to give up hope, we learn we’ve inherited a cottage we never knew existed. As we slowly push open the faded green front door, we are hit with the familiar scent of her perfume. This is where our mother had been all this time. But nothing can prepare us for when we finally unearth the reason why…

Now, I’m forced to decide if my mother’s secret will give me the strength to reveal my own to my sisters and heal our rift, or if it has the power to drive us apart forever.

Fans of Lianne Moriarty, Laura Dave and Diane Chamberlain will adore this completely gripping page-turner about how the people closest to us can have the most shocking of secrets.

My Review

Anna E. Collins' HER SECRET LIFE is a gripping character-driven family drama of three estranged sisters coming together as the past and present collide, unraveling dark, hidden family secrets after the mysterious death of their mother.

Leah, Alison, and Jillian are the Brady sisters (a realtor, a librarian, and a pilot) who have not been in touch for years.

After the death of Leah's husband, she returns to her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to try and make amends with her mother. Leah's abusive husband is why she has not spoken to her mother or sisters in years; now, she can reveal the truth.

However, Leah is shocked upon arrival at her childhood home. There is police tape, and she is told her mother's body has been recovered from the lake behind the house. She was too late. Leah wants answers and calls her sisters. They search the house for clues. It does not appear her mom has been living here with all the dust, and her clothes are missing.

Then, when the will is read, they find they have inherited a cottage they never knew existed. What has their mother been hiding? It appears their mysterious mom had more than one secret.

Did their mom end her own life, and why? She was a good swimmer. Could she have drowned? When they unravel the clues and answers, will the siblings come closer, or will it drive them further apart again?

Told from the three sisters' POVs From past to present, we learn about each of the sisters and the mysterious secrets of their mother. There was so much more to their mom than they knew.

Do their pasts define them?

The novel explores complex dysfunctional family relationships while grappling with grief —a journey to discover the hidden stories of their family. Self-doubt, despair, tragedies, secrets, sacrifice, pride, dreams, hope, love, triumphs and self-discovery.

HER SECRET LIFE is a character-driven complex family drama. I did not find the characters particularly likable; however, I found the mom's character more fascinating and wished we had more from her—I also enjoyed the setting, the mom's friend, the beautiful poetry, and the infusions of art. Plus the lovely cottage.

It is a heartrending redemptive story about the power and complexities of women, friendship, and a family in crisis. The power of love, the meaning of family, and second chances, even when it seems impossible. Highly charged topics of suicide and abuse (mental and physical).

My first book by the author, and I look forward to reading more. It is not a suspense thriller but more women's fiction—motherhood, sisterhood, love, grief, connections, loss, forgiveness, hope, and new beginnings.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Laurel Lefkow, and while she delivered an engaging performance, I think it would have been better with different distinct voices or multiple narrators for the characters.

While I do not read a lot of women's fiction (preferring thrillers and literary), HER SECRET LIFE would make a good book club pick.

For fans of authors Suzanne Redfearn, Mary Ellen Taylor, Mary Alice Monroe, Pamela Kelley, and Emilie Richards—I would not compare to Diane Chamberlain (favorite), Lianne Moriarty, or Laura Dave, as referenced in the summary.

Thanks to Bookouture Audio, Bookouture, and NetGalley for a gifted ARC and ALC review copy for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Jan 31, 2024

My Rating: 3.5 Stars rounded to 4

About the Author

I was born on a very cold, very snowy February morning in Sweden some years ago. I looked at my mom, asked for a pencil, and the rest is history.

No, not quite.

While a voracious reader from a young age, I didn’t start putting my own stories in writing until I had children of my own. At that point, the words wanted out, so I put my master’s degree in educational psychology and career as a teacher on the shelf, and picked up the pen.

Now, I write stories about the lives and inner workings of women - their hopes, dreams, journeys, and relationships - with the goal of making readers both laugh and cry.

When not writing, reading, or raising humans, I like to bake, draw, and hang out with my eternal sidekick — a mini golden-doodle named Archie, who is a Very Good Boy.

Happy face: Fireflies, playing piano at midnight, Swedish candy

Sad face: Bigotry, kids doing magic poorly, cherry-flavored meds







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