Review Blog

Mar 18 2020

Our Dark Secret by Jenny Quintana

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Pan Macmillan, 2020, ISBN: 9781509839476. 320pp.
(Age: Adult) Our Dark Secret is a dark, slow moving story focussed on complicated families, angst-filled teenage and adult relationships and deep mysteries. Beginning in the late 1970s, introspective Elizabeth, a bulimic teenager, who is bullied by her classmates narrates her story as her home life disintegrates. When angel-like Rachel and her family move into the village, Elizabeth seeks her out as a friend. A fortuitous accident leads the girls into an awkward friendship, and Elizabeth is overly self-sacrificing to ensure the relationship continues. As their parents' marriages fall apart, the teenagers seek refuge in a hidden den in the orchard. Unfortunately, a murdered man's body is discovered in the girls' hang-out spot, with long-lasting consequences.
Twenty years later, Elizabeth is a troubled adult, still dealing with her bulimia, moving from job to job, lonely and struggling. She wants to leave memories in the past, but when another body is discovered in the village, she must confront the deep far-reaching truths. She still connects with Rachel, their friendship strained, but the consequences of their past actions play heavily on both.
Quintana's introspectively draws on the psychological aspects, exploring themes of bullying, separation, divorce, abuse, secrecy and obsessive friendships. She descriptively captures the details of village life, food, music, gossiping and rumour spreading, in simpler yet still difficult times. The year references form chapter titles as she weaves the threads of the story between the twenty-year gap. Our Dark Secret is a multi-layered introspective drama, confronting and raw, patience and perseverance are needed to finally gain insight into the connections between the two murders. Themes: Friendship, Coming of Age, Mystery, Identity, Family relationships.
Rhyllis Bignell

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