• Paula Newman

Three Great Books with a Secret

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

In each of my book recommendations hiding the truth causes emotional suffering. Characters are anxious that their deeds will be discovered. They live with their guilt, shame and regret and they cease to be open and fully themselves in relationships.

A good book helps me to see events from various points of view and to experience the emotions of its characters. I like to put myself into their shoes and to consider how I would react in their circumstances.

As a counsellor and supervisor I see the relief and healing that can come from sharing a secret. I also recognise that sharing often takes great courage .

Waking Lions

~Ayelet Gundar-Goshen~

Eitan, a skilled Israeli neurosurgeon is shocked when he accidently hits and kills a man. Thinking that he has not been seen, Eitan decides to leave the body and to keep quiet about his involvement in the man’s death.

However, the next day the man’s widow Sirkit, an Eritrean immigrant knocks on Eitan’s door and she is holding his wallet. Sirkit lets Eitan know that he can continue to live his life as usual during the day, but at night he must work in her hospital. The price that Eitan pays for Sirkit’s silence becomes detrimental to his career, his home life and at times his safety.

On top of the original secret, Eitan is now obliged to keep his evening whereabouts from his wife Liat. Frequently he is tired and preoccupied, and their relationship is affected. The distance between them widens. We see how this unfolds from both Eitan and Liat’s perspectives.

As one secret leads to another Eitan's life becomes increasingly complicated. There is danger and a series of dilemmas. I am eager to discover what will happen next and interested in how Eitan will deal with the moral and personal dilemmas that he is faced with.

The author brings important social themes to her story including poverty, privilege and discrimination, giving me plenty to reflect upon.

The Paying Guests

~Sarah Waters~

The novel takes place in London during the 1920’s. Frances and her widowed mother are both grieving for Frances’s brothers who have perished in the great war. Their financial circumstances have changed and in order to continue in their grand home they take in lodgers.

A young couple Leonard and Lillian arrive. At first Frances is horrified by their gaudiness which is so out of tune with her middle-class way of life. Gradually Frances gets used to her neighbours and their presence in her home.

There are two secrets in this book. The first is the relationship between Frances and Lillian. Friendship soon becomes a date in the park and then an affair. This leads to the second secret…

The story is full of twists and turns, suspense and tension. At times I found it hard to put the book down. In the developing relationship between Frances and Lillian, Frances seems to become the driving force. Perhaps for her this relationship is more of an obsession than true love. As their story continues Frances and Lilian's second secret impacts upon their relationship.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

~Kim Edwards~

During a blizzard Dr David Henry delivers his twins with the help of his nurse Caroline. Realising that his daughter has Downs Syndrome he asks Caroline to take the baby to an institution. His wife Norah is unconscious and there are no other witnesses.

David tells Norah that their youngest baby has died. His attempt to avoid pain brings great sorrow. His wife loves their son but continues to mourn for their daughter. The secret divides husband and wife and affects their living child.

Norah suffers the loss of her baby. She and her husband grow apart with both of them longing for the closeness that they once shared. Eventually Norah finds her own way forward and discovers her talents. I am cheering her on and at the same time there is always a sense of sadness.

David carries the heavy burden of his secret. He feels that telling Norah the truth would cause her so much pain that he must continue to live with it. The secret is a constant shaddow in his life.

We learn about David’s past and his decision to abandon their baby becomes more understandable but no less painful. Throughout the book I am hoping for a healing confession.

In the meantime Caroline also has a secret, she is bringing up David and Norah's daughter as her own child.

Each of my book choices kept me very much engaged. Perhaps you have come across them in your own reading, if so it would be great to hear your comments.

Contact Paula Newman
Counsellor, Supervisor, Focusing trainer

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