I've been reading a lot of sci-fi and fantasy recently, which undoubtedly I do enjoy, but it was nice to kick back with some contemporary Irish fiction featuring real life issues. I've had this book for ages and had been dipping in and out of it for a while, but once I really got my teeth into it, and blocked out all my recent supernatural distractions, I couldn't put it down.
The Devlin sisters, although close, are still reluctant to share their painful problems with each other. Julie has just come into money but with an absentee husband and four young children to manage, she finds herself becoming increasingly lonely and out of touch with the world.
Strong, single mum of one Louise is tough, especially in her career as a lawyer, but when she comes up against something that is so out of her control she finds it hard to bear the truth. And youngest sister Sophie struggles with her age as her ex-husband finds a younger model and she feels like she’ll never be good enough to find love.
All the sisters engage in private battles with their situations, not even considering that the people best able to help them, are the closest ones that they are so hesitant to reach out to. I think we've all those moments where we are embarrassed or too proud to speak out about our problems so straight away I liked that theme in the story.
It took me a little while to get to grips with all the characters’ names. As each sister has quite an individual life, there are lots of interlinking characters that come in and out of the story. I think my favourite character was the little brother Gavin, who seems a bit feckless in the beginning but really comes into his own by the end.
My favourite storyline was probably Louise’s where she finds it hard to come to terms with the fact that her precious daughter may have mental health issues and this was tactfully worked into the story. After Mental Health Awareness Week recently and mental health being prevalent in the news; it was a clever addition to the tale.
I always find the unique way of speaking that comes through in Irish fiction very charming and gives a great sense of location. Once everything has been laid out, the book becomes very quick to read as you become eager to find out how it all works out, and was happy with the way things ended.
This is a charming story about family and friendship, and the age-old adage of “a problem shared is a problem halved,” which is both an important and lovely sentiment to keep in mind when life gets too much. Filled with heart, good humour and emotion, The Secrets Sisters Keep is a touching and worthwhile novel to read.