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Many may recognise the infatuation felt during a first love affair gone wrong and will probably have some kind of baggage from it. Hopefully not so heavy as that which this middle aged Mum carries in her heart. She has a secret that could implode at anytime.

Back from 2010 to 1976 we go to guess along as to what this private, long locked up story might be. It is very easy to identify with our heroine as she grows up fast and tackles some hefty challenges.

Everyday life is crystallised within the pages, the relationship between her and her mother in law, her husband, daughter and son in law in the present is reminiscent of Joanna Trollope’s writing. I also saw a resemblance to Barbara Vine and a favourite book of hers A Fatal Inversion.

The dreadful start Jo had in life as a lonely homeless teenager, seeking work and somewhere to stay in London. At her lowest ebb she is approached by an angel – well – fey Eve, who scoops her up and takes her home to a squat in Hastings.

From then on we are hauled back into that long hot summer I certainly remember, the water supply crisis, the way we all became inhabitants of another country, long hot days making us drunk on endless sunshine.

On to the nearly present day the dilemma she has been dreading hits her full on. A key player from the 70’s is back from the other side of the world and wants their secret out, and fast as he is dying.

How this will all resolve keeps you turning the pages, gripped with the knowledge that there’s something nasty coming up. However a couple of times I wanted to throw the book at the wall because the young people were doing something very wrong for themselves, but that is what happens when you are starting out, so often it’s almost normal.

I liked working everything out and will choose another book by Susan Elliot Wright shortly for another few hours diversion. This once achieves the dual purpose of taking you out of yourself while assuring you that you were/are never alone in your mixed up ideas, worries and responsibilities.
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on 31 October 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed Susan Elliot Wright's debut novel, "The things we never said" and couldn't wait to read this, her follow up.......I was not disappointed and read it in 3 sittings.
Some of the themes are the same, the change between 2 different time zones, the post natal depression, the seaside setting but they are in many ways very different.
We don't know the name of the central character in the 2010 story but she is a mother who has just become a grandmother and is trying to support her daughter through post natal depression, her husband is not her daughters biological father but has brought her up from a young age and to all intents and purposes is her dad. The mother receives a phone call from her daughters biological father who threatens to expose secrets of the past.
In 1976 Jo is 16 and loses her mother and is left alone, she is befriended by Eve, a hippy and a bit of a free spirit who lives in a seaside squat with her partner.
The portions of the story set in 1976 are so evocative of that period (I was 19 at the time) the fashions, the hippy lifestyle and the heat of that scorching summer are described so well.
The stories of the 2 time periods are woven together until gradually the secret is revealed, I did guess the secret quite early on but this in no way took away the enjoyment of the book.
It was slightly far fetched in places but actually, on consideration, very plausible.
Susan Elliot Wright is an accomplished author whose stories unfold in a way that have you gripped from the early pages and I cannot wait for her next offering.
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on 2 September 2014
Set in 1976 and the present day.
Author creates a spell binding account of a 50 year old womans' perfect life being disturbed by a man from her past.
Very easy and quick to read.Evokes the 1970s very well.I wish more books were like this.Old fashioned thoughtful story telling.
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I really enjoyed the authors first book, The Things We Never Said, and was eagerly looking forward to reading this one, and I am pleased to say it didn’t disappoint me one bit. If anything, this is even better than her last book. I absolutely loved this read and it is one that makes me wish that I was better at gushing over books, because it really is one that I have the urge to gush over.

It is a very poignant story about a woman who is happily married with a daughter and new grandson to dote over. Right from the start we know she is hiding a secret from her family, one that is so shocking that she dare not ever reveal it for fear of the consequences, although we don’t know what that secret is. She has spent years burying her past, but now someone wants her to reveal her secret, no matter the cost to herself.

The story is told on two timelines. In Sheffield in 2010 we follow our heroine as she works through the dilemma she finds herself in and tries to decide whether or not to tell all. If she does it will destroy her life – her marriage, everything she cherishes in life is at stake. Not to mention what it would do to her daughter who is showing the signs of post natal depression.

The secret itself is revealed slowly throughout the book as we turn to Hastings in 1976. I loved this part of the book. It was so evocative that I could almost feel the heat and smell the sea. I loved the detail of life in 1976, especially the way the author snuck in the cost of things like a bag of chips or a pint of beer. It is the story of the relationship between three people during that summer, a relationship that will have a knock on effect for our main character throughout the rest of her life, in more ways than one.

It is actually quite easy for the reader to work out what the secret is, as the author has dropped hints in the story almost right from the start but I still found it absolutely compelling reading. I just had to know if I was right and, if so, how it all came about.

It is a very poignant tale, very moving at times and I really felt a connection with all the female characters in the book. A thoroughly enjoyable, compelling read dealing with motherhood, friendship and most of all – guilt, that moves gently and at the same time is absolutely spellbinding. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC in return for an unbiased review.
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on 2 September 2014
I couldn't wait to read this latest offering from the wonderful Susan Elliot Wright, having read her first novel in the space of twenty four hours. I wasn't disappointed. I'm so glad I saved it for my holiday. I guessed Jo's secret very early on, but this didn't spoil my enjoyment. Part of the novel is set in 2010 when a man from the past comes back into the narrator's life and she has the dilemma of whether to divulge her shameful secret to her husband and daughter. Her daughter is suffering from post-natal depression, so there is even more at stake. The scenes set in 1976 were my favourite. I remember that hot summer so well. I was a similar age to her character, Jo and I have the same name!! Fortunately, unlike Jo, both of my parents were alive and well. As a teenager Jo moves from her small Cornish town to London, where she hopes to find a job and start a new life. However, things aren't as simple as that and she soon runs out of money. Eve rescues her and takes Jo back the squat she shares with her boyfriend, Scott in Hastings. We get a real sense of a seaside town in summer as well as the bohemian lifestyle the three characters share. I remember my parents also watering plants with washing up water due to the water shortage. There were so many 70s references like the price of groceries, Double Diamond, cheesecloth shirts and Cheeselets! A real nostalgia fest for those of us who remember that era. The scene at the end of the 70s section of the book is heartbreakingly sad. I could say so much more about this novel, but I don't want to spoil it for new readers. It's a novel I will re-read and savour. Susan Elliot Wright's storytelling and empathy for her characters is second to none. Her prose style is almost perfect. She has become one of my all-time favourite authors and I can't wait for her next book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 December 2015
The (to begin with unnamed) middle-aged narrator of alternative chapters of Susan Elliot Wright's second novel has what appears to be a lovely life: a nice house in Sheffield, a happy marriage to amiable vet Duncan, a good relationship with adult daughter Hannah (not Duncan's child, but as good as) and a successful career. Then, she receives a letter from Hannah's father Scott, who hasn't seen his daughter since babyhood. Scott is dying, and wants to meet his daughter before it's too late. More importantly, he wants the narrator to tell the truth about something from their past, when Hannah was a baby. But the narrator knows that if she does so, her whole life and her relationships will collapse. But what is this secret? We begin to find out through the alternate chapters, narrated by a teenage girl called Jo. Jo's mother dies of alcoholism when Jo is only 17, leaving her with nothing. Jo drifts away to London, where she meets Eve, an aromatherapist, market trader and jewellery maker. An instant rapport is established, and Jo moves into the squat that Eve shares with her boyfriend Scott in Hastings. But can this menage a trois carry on long-term, particularly as Jo and Scott are attracted to each other? When Eve becomes pregnant, the atmosphere becomes increasingly tense, building to a startling and completely unexpected incident...

Writers who become popular with their first book have quite a challenge - the 'market' expects them to get out Book Number 2 very quickly, and for it to be equally successful. Often, I've been told, this is the point when a writer resuscitates a previously unpublished novel. I'm not sure whether or not Elliot Wright did this here, but - though it has many virtues - 'The Secrets We Left Behind' felt a less polished book than her first novel. There were rather too many Terrible Incidents to be believed - particularly in Jo's childhood, when Elliot Wright seemed determined to heap as much misery as she could on her young heroine's head. Jo seemed to have no idea that there was anyone - beyond hostel owners - that she could go to when she wound up broke and alone in London (did the Citizens Advice Bureau not exist in those days, or some equivalent?). The whole false identity theme was a little fudged, with no explanation over what happened with passports, dates of birth, identification papers and the like. In another scene, two seemingly kind and decent people carry out an extraordinary act of abandonment. I also didn't believe the heroine could have lived with her secret for all those years without having some sort of a breakdown, or at least confessing to Duncan. The novel also didn't quite have enough plot for its length, which meant that there were a lot of scenes that didn't really go anywhere - lots of vaguely romantic prowling round each other for Jo and Scott that never quite got resolved, a rather vague subplot about Hannah's fertility treatment and post-natal depression, endless debates between Scott and the narrator about whether she should tell the truth. It all seemed to be building up to a grand finale which - bar the one shocking thing that happened in Jo's life - never quite happened. And Eve remained a bit underdeveloped as a character, I'd have liked more of her.

On the other hand, there was some excellent material in the book. Eve's grieving for her family and retreat into a world of herbal healing, meditation and New Age philosophy was moving and convincing, and Elliot Wright vividly captured the young Jo's confusion at her life with Eve and Scott, even if she did at times seem a bit gormless for a smart girl. There were some fine descriptions of Hastings and the sea, and a vivid sense of foreboding as the narrator wondered about when her secret would be revealed. And bravo to Elliot Wright for not going for a traditional OTT happy ending with everyone hugging each other and weeping, but something tougher and more believable.

I didn't feel the book quite worked, but on the other hand I did enjoy a lot of it, and felt that it showed this writer has a great deal of potential. I hope she gets a bit more time to write Novel No.3 - I'll definitely read it.
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on 9 February 2016
An easy read: It got me hooked. Much of the story was a very watered down version of Barbara Vine's *Fatal Inversion* which in my view was much better and more elequently written. I felt that the description of the past belonged more to the 80's rather than 70's as the word *New Age* hadn't been invented in 1976. The story went at an interesting pace. The end was a little unbelivable, how on earth would Hannah have been able to survive with no birth certificate etc? The author hadn't bothered to tie up those lose ends which left me feeling frustraited, because it's such a small thing to make the story complete. Also, the way Eve's body was just left in the house while Jo and Scott scarpered - where was the motive for them to run? They had done nothing wrong. I was expecting a macabre twist to the end, yet there wasn't anything. And come on!! Jo had taken away Eve's identity, the police just shrugged their shoulders when she owned up - that is a criminal offence, in real life Jo would have been prosecuted. Otherwise, well written, could certainly keep one occupied on a rainy day. The descriptions of Sheffield and Hastings were done with style. Just a pity about the ending.
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Having already read The Things We Never Said, I was looking forward to reading this, Susan Elliot Wright's second book. In it, an unnamed woman tells her story. Her daughter has just had a baby and life is generally pretty good until a series of silent phone calls means that she has to think about something in her past that she would rather forget.

This is a well-written and compelling story which kept me turning the pages as quickly as possible. I have to say that I saw what was going to happen a mile off but I still enjoyed reading the story and finding out exactly how it happened. I think the author did a fair amount of research - part of the book is set in 1976 and it's quite evocative and detailed. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one.
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on 10 December 2014
I was a bit wary when I started it, but it soon grabbed me and I couldn't put it down.
We all have secrets that we would rather not think about and so does the woman in this story. She has everything, a husband who adores her a daughter, home everything.
Until she gets a phone call that blows her world apart. Someone from her past has called her to let her know he knows her secret, who she really is. He's dying, and gives her the ultimatum,,,either she tells or he will.
The book then takes us back to 1976, to the summer and the secret.
In the end I loved this book, and have recommended it to friends.
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on 15 February 2015
Slow start but an okay read which made me hope for a positive outcome for "Eve". So glad it had a realistic outcome to the secret coming out and not a rose tinted one. I don't know if I like the character or not and I would have liked to know more about life after she was left with the baby and surely a bigger police enquiry would have gone on for a missing baby but hey, it's only a book. It didn't make me yearn for a couple more pages before I closed it up though.
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