Genre: Historical Fiction
“When Maggie Bryan works up the nerve to tell her parents she’s pregnant, they immediately disown her. Later that night, her boyfriend is killed. In desperation, she turns to her brother, Sam. Against his wife’s wishes, Sam brings Maggie to his home in rural Pennsylvania.
While Maggie awaits the birth of her child and navigates the tension in her new home, she decides to finish high school. There, she meets Anne Phillips, a volunteer educator and full-time architect. Over time, Maggie becomes drawn to Anne in ways she doesn’t understand, but she knows enough to keep her feelings hidden.
After a devastating loss, Maggie tries to move on, but secrets and betrayals keep her from living her fullest life. Beginning in the late 1940s and spanning decades, My Secret to Keep portrays a woman at war with society, her family, and herself.”
A former health care worker who now works in finance, Barbara Conrey lives in Pennsylvania where she tries to satisfy her passions for travel, reading, writing, hiking and exploring antique shops. (Not to mention her beagle, Miss Molly.)
The book’s first chapter kicks off in 1982 with Maggie, the protagonist, planting flowers outside a house, then coming in the house to discover Anne has died. Who Anne is and what Maggie’s relationship to her isn’t clear. We’ll spend much of the book figuring that out along with Maggie and Annie as the second chapter flashes back to 1948, before Maggie has even met Annie, but is going through another life-shaking and life-changing event.
What happens to Maggie, Anne, and a few other important characters between 1948 and 1982 makes for an intense, thought-provoking story. It illustrates how much the world has changed in some ways and how awful the world was for some people at points in the past. (And you’re right. We’re still far from perfection.) While some parts of the story the reader has an idea of how they’ll end based on hints from the first chapter, the specifics of the route the story will take to reach that end are interesting and at times will be surprising. An excellent read.
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words