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The Secret Paperback – Apr 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345465369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345465368
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,127,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A serious, intelligent, psychological novel which will enhance her reputation for wise words gracefully expressed’ -- Financial Times

‘Hoffman questions the notion of identity and conducts an exploration into the special bonds formed and broken in mother-daughter relationships…Gripping’ -- The Times

‘Intriguing and deeply sinister…Compelling in both its cool intelligence and its insistent moral questioning’ -- Guardian

‘The futuristic world is imagined with rigour, and is compellingly convincing. This is a sophisticated and articulate fable’ -- Scotland on Sunday

‘With a shrewd regard for language and gesture, Hoffman teases out the tell-tale signs of an alienated soul…' -- Independent on Sunday --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A magnificent debut novel from the acclaimed author of Shtetl, Lost in Translation and Exit into History. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Of course, I've always had a secret. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bebe on 24 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for an eng lit course on representations of the body. Indeed, the issues raised about cloning are very interesting but, I have to admit, I thought that the great thing about this book was the relationships portrayed. When the protagonist tries to visit her dying grandmother, who mistakes her for her daughter, I was moved to tears. If you are interested in the nature of identity, family, science and the body, then this book will be very interesting. However, if you are just looking for a cracking read, then this book is equally suitable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel is an exciting read and an insight into a male adolescent's life in contemporary Paris. Highly recommended. David
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 14 Oct. 2005
Format: Hardcover
This i sone of my favourite books, I really liked the style, the courage and I found it very emotional at the same time.
I recommend it to everyone
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 0 reviews
An Interesting example of social SF 1 May 2012
By T. Burrows - Published on
Format: Paperback
I wanted to read this because it is part of a mini-genre that interests me - social science fiction (I have never seen that phrase anywhere before). These are stories that begin with a sci-fi premise of some kind, and then look at how people might react and live with the new situation. This kind of thing sometimes gets called speculative fiction. To a certain extent, all sci-fi is like this, but in this kind of story, human emotions predominate. This book looks at cloning, and imagines what might happen if a successful, independent woman has herself cloned, and then raises her "child" in an isolated environment.

This book did have a lot of interesting moments, and I read it through to the end. I think it would be a good read for young women, because it deals primarily with the issue of severing the bond between mother and daughter and beginning adulthood. Iris grows up in a small town in Ohio. Her mother keeps aloof from the local community, and tells her nothing about her parentage. She also keeps her away from her grandparents and aunt, all of whom were against the idea of the cloning. She and her mother have a positive, symbiotic relationship for the most part, but when Iris starts getting too curious, then the trouble starts.

Iris turns out to be just as tough and independent as her clone-mother, and eventually turns on her with a vengeance. There are some interesting moments as she goes, unannounced, to visit relatives. There follow scenes of life in New York, with identity shifting clubs, squatters camps, and genetic modifiers. But things are still very grounded in contemporary reality. One of my favorite scenes takes place when Iris goes to visit an organic art workshop.

This was not a great book, but it was an interesting one - not sorry I read it.
Nature or nurture? 31 July 2006
By J. Marren - Published on
Format: Paperback
Set in the near future of the 2020's, "The Secret" probes the endless question of whether nature or nurture is the driving force behind personhood. Iris Surrey is a clone, but growing up in the isolated world her mother has created for her in a midwest town, it is not until she is in her teens that she discovers the truth about that vague feeling she calls the "weirdness." Iris has a profound bond with her beautiful mother, but as a child has no way of knowing that this is unusual or odd. But as her questions about her father become insistent in her own mind, and the tiny world of their home is disturbed by her mother's lover Stephen, Iris rifles through files and records to find the mystery of her birth.

The informations sends her reeling in a storm of self-doubt, hatred of her mother, and agony over whether she is a real person or just a copy. Iris seeks out her mother's family, and painfully realizes that they're unable to see her as anything other than stark evidence of Elizabeth's shocking act. Only by separating from Elizabeth does she come to know that her unique history and experiences shape her as much as her genes do.

I found the premise of the book fascinating, but sympathize with readers who say it goes on and on--it does. We "know" the secret in the first chapter--it's completely obvious--but Hoffman spends more time than necessary detailing Iris' search for it herself. And it wasn't credible that Iris would not have developed and noticed some traits different from her mother's even given how sheltered she was. Scientific theory swings back and forth on the issue of whether nature or nurture is more important--at the moment the genes seem to be winning. But no matter what side of the issue you're on, no one thinks clones could ever be exact replicas.

In any event, Iris finally comes into her own when she meets a man who knows only her, not her mother, and it's easy to see how for him she is no more unusual than any other woman. And as Iris completes her education in a field completely different from her mother's, her separate self becomes dominant. In the meantime, Elizabeth pays the price for a life of domineering and headstrong behavior, at least as her family saw her, and loses the daughter she tried to hold closer than any child can be.

It is a bit annoying that Iris only finds a unique self when she meets a guy, and as I said earlier, Hoffman does go on and on about Iris' philosophical dilemma. But there's more here than a short story, and I liked "The Secret" a lot.
Good but with minor downfalls 1 April 2015
By Sergiu Pobereznic (author) - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a novel about self-discovery, but one of a very different kind, with a twist. Iris, a 17 year old only child, becomes aware that she is living in a strangely isolated world with no father or grandparents. Also, there's a secret that her mother won't tell her. And so her journey of discovery begins.
I thought it was an interesting concept that is similar to a novel that I read a while back by Ryder Brewen called "BLUE-Print".
The Secret is a book that poses many profound questions and perhaps even a little disturbing at times. There is little to no action, which was its only real but somewhat minor downfall, but there was enough to keep me interested, hence the three stars. A little more pace and I would have easily gone up to four stars.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Intriguing story - Absolutely NOT boring! 2 April 2005
By Roy Staples - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Secret is about ..... well, it's not really a secret, is it? You would have to be an idiot not to learn what the secret is in the first chapter or two. Mostly because the protagonist mentions it as something really horrible! (Anyone living through the current backlash against genetic science will end up guessing it right quick).

But does knowing the secret take the wind out of your sails? No, it's not a detective novel. Those who find it boring find it so because they can't relate to the main character, a young woman. Those that can relate do enjoy the book. I was interested in how she unravels the knowledge herself, and what she does with that knowledge.

The book is philosophical, though not pedantic. If you like reading introspective stories, and literature that makes you use your head (and exercise your emotions), you'll enjoy "The Secret".

A good read!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
intersting subject 15 Mar. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The subject of Eva Hoffman's book, The Secret, is certainly thought provoking. The question of how an individual can cope with the fact of being a clon can be fascinating. The situation of mother and daughter so much alike raises interesting psychological situations.
Ms. Hoffman in her book touches all the right problems, but somehow she leaves it all on the surface, never daring to explore the emotions of the characters in deep.
The book feels more like an account of events in the life of the heroine and it never reaches the level of a great novel.
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