Author: Fiona Palmer
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Fiona Palmer is another talented Western Australian author spreading her typing fingers into a new genre. She is the author of eight rural novels, of which I have read not enough, and a four book young adult series and her latest release is a contemporary women’s fiction.
Regardless of genre Palmer writes a captivating story with engaging characters you can’t help but invest yourself in. Secrets Between Friends sees high school friends Ricki, Abbie and Jess decide to take a short cruise together. It’s a mini high school reunion to Albany, the scene of a school excursion. What was supposed to be a mini girls getaway never quite makes it off the ground when they are joined by Peter, the final member of their friendship quartet.
The four friends are now in their late-twenties and though they are still close they don’t see one another as often as they would like. Their friendship is built on a long history of sharing their lives and their thoughts, and keeping no secrets. But in the end, can any of us say we keep no secrets?
Secrets Between Friends is told in a tri-perspective style that keeps you flipping chapters long past bedtime because you need to find out what happens next for each of the characters.
The story is about secrets so I don’t want to be the one to spill them, or they wouldn’t be secrets anymore. The problem with secrets is that they don’t usually stay secrets… and even if you are keeping them for the noblest of reasons they will come back to bite someone. As readers we are let in on most of the secrets right from the beginning, but the biggest secret… that one is kept even from us.
Ricki, Abbie and Jess have all left school and established their lives and their careers, they seem to have it all and should be happy.
Jess is a primary school teacher and single mother living in a small town with her son. She has moved away from her family and friends for a fresh start, and much as she misses them she’s happy and settling in.
Early on we learn that there is a lot more to Jess than she has ever shared with the world. Her childhood was rough and it taught her to keep a lot of things close to her chest. Her friends know a little, but not everything, and that’s the way she likes it.
Abbie loves her job in real estate but she has a mutually grating relationship with her new boss. She thought she had it all but before she even boards the ship she is left feeling lost at sea.
Ricki is a dedicated nurse who has always been a nurturer, her dreams have always involved exploring that nurturing side but when life takes a different path do you reassess your dreams or end up stagnating in a routine you never had planned.
One of the biggest issues Ricki faced was that she wasn’t sure where to turn for an objective ear. Who do you talk to about your relationship when your boyfriend is the last member of your friendship quartet and as close to your best friends as you are?
Secrets Between Friends is a touching, and heart breaking, story of love, loyalty, chasing your dreams and the bonds of friendship that bend but never break. It’s about the sacrifices we sometimes make for the happiness of those we love.
Secrets Between Friends was the third emotionally challenging book I picked up in a row. It was a story that had me by the heart strings from early on, not necessarily because it was sad but due to the bonds between this group of friends. These friends who mean the world to each other, who always thought they could share anything… are all feeling extremely alone with the biggest issues they are facing. They know they have each other, they are there for each other, they share so much of themselves with each other…. yet they feel they are alone, or they choose to be alone, in the biggest challenges they face.
Palmer writes strong, relatable and empathetic characters. We are drawn into their lives, and their issues, and regardless of what was going on I felt for all of them. I wanted to be that shoulder they felt they needed to help them process what was going on.
Secrets Between Friends deals with love, loss, friendship, friends to lovers, betrayal, adultery, drugs and family violence; there is also sun, sand and cocktails. The strongest theme is friendship, the ones that are there through the years and are strong enough to withstand the toughest tests.
This is a book I would unreservedly recommend and one that cements Fiona Palmer further into my favourites list, and reminds me I need to go and chase up the ones I’ve missed. I look forward to more contemporary works and a further spreading of her typing fingers.
Thanks Fiona, and may we all find friendships like the one shared by Abbie, Ricki, Jess and Peter. Often in novels there are couples that have us wishing for a partner like the hero, or a romance like the lead couple. Fiona Palmer will leave readers hoping for a friendship like these friends share.
Secrets Between Friends is book #36 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.
Thanks to Hachette Australia 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Secrets Between Friends so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I can’t wait to read what they thought.