Book Club: Secrets Between Friends

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Author: Fiona Palmer
ISBN: 9780733636998
RRP: $29.99
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.

You can find Fiona on Facebook, Twitter, her Website and Goodreads.

Secrets Between Friends is published by Hachette Australia and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

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.

20 thoughts on “Book Club: Secrets Between Friends

  1. Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer is a different direction from her other books.
    It works!
    Three friends decide to re-enact a High School Trip 10 years after Graduation.
    They are taking a Luxury 3 day Cruise.
    One of their partners is also going along.
    Abbie, Ricki and Jess are very different.
    Abbie is a sucessful Real Estate Agent.
    Ricki is a dedicated Nurse who’s life dream is to travel overseas to work.
    Jess is a single mother and a Teacher. She has kept little Ollie’s Father’s identity a secret.
    Peter is a lifelong friend of Jess, and is now Abbie’s boyfriend.
    He wants to take the oppertunity of the Cruise to propose to Abbie.
    Their luxury Cruise is not the happy experience they thought it would be as the friends secrets are systematicly exposed.
    Will the secrets rip the friendships apart?
    Sometimes secrets are better off kept.
    A brilliant book that is heartbreaking and also funny at times.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Hachette Australia for the oppertunity to read and review Fiona Palmers latest book.

  2. A beautiful book with a focus on friendships.

    Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer is a well-written heartwarming story told through the perspective of 3 best friends.

    We all have secrets we want to keep and nobody’s life is perfect but will the secrets beween this close- knit group of friends tear them apart?

    This book is a real-page turner that kept me wanting to read “one more chapter”. It was very hard to put down as I needed to know what would happen next.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read and review this beautiful book. I enjoyed it very much and thoroughly recommend it.

  3. Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer is a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The story explores this groups long term friendship. It was very easy to read and led me through the lives and friendships of each of them, it touched on other family members but only to the point that it gave some depth to the struggles they each faced with family and how a bond from this forged… especially between Jess and Peter and further strengthen all of their friendships in the faces of adversity on occasion.

    The story had a touch of sadness with the impending medical tragedy for Abbie but even this was handled with a dignity that many of us would hope would be how we could see our end of life happen.. and the added bonus of love for her on the way from the strangest of meetings.

    Then there is Ricki who is in a relationship with Peter but finds she wants more from life… she struggled with her decision to follow her dreams which I think was a good decision. Her story really makes you evaluate what you are doing and for what reasons… and who…

    The twists and turns the hidden and sometimes forbidden love story that see 4 friends take the trip of a lifetime to recapture their lives and rekindles lost loves and discover new loves. It touches on love, death and everything in between, even going over Abbie’s suicidal thoughts but triumphs to show life is really worth living .. even if it is not forever.. but it does explore the options of making decisions that can change what life you have left and how you live it.

    A truly lovely story that touches on many subjects and leaves you with that satisfied feeling after reading a book…. you are not left wondering what happens to the characters the story evolves from beginning to end.

    I would recommend this book to everyone, I did enjoy reading it .. even if there was a few late nights staying up reading to see what happens next. Thank you Beauty and Lace, Fiona Palmer and Hachette Australia.

  4. Secrets between friends was quite an emotional read that had me in tears by the end. I quite enjoyed reading this book and found it was easy to get into and easy to pick up at any time. It is the first book I have read by Fiona Palmer and I liked the storyline.

    The blurb indicates it is the story of three friends but really it is of four. The three; Abbie, Ricki and Jess have been friends since they were younger and the story is told with chapters written from each of their perspectives. The fourth main character; Peter is Jess’ longest friend and hoping to soon be Ricki’s fiancée but we don’t see any chapters from his perspective.

    The four friends set off on a three day cruise to return to Albany as a ten year reunion celebration, however the trip turns out to be pretty fair from any sort of celebration. All the main characters are hiding secrets which come out over the course of the cruise – some of their secrets are bad choices they have made but some are just very bad luck. The secrets start to split the friends apart and they are unsure that their friendship will ever recover. Without saying more to give anything away, what happens is a series of events leads to a very tearful yet peaceful ending.

  5. The book is called Secrets Between Friends. The four friends go on a cruise that is when all their secrets are revealed one by one where love, sadness and happiness come together also a child. It is a good read to find out what happens between the four friends without giving to much away.

  6. hank you for allowing me to read Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer.
    This is a story of three friends Abbie, Ricki and Jess. Abbie appears to have her life all together with a nice job and a partner. Then she’s not feeling so well and everything is more uncertain. Ricki is a nurse who hates her boss, but loves what she does. She has a dream that has remained unrealised until an encounter at work. Jess is a single mother to a young son Ollie, she is a teacher and her best friend is Peter who she’s known since school.
    They go on a cruise together off WA which has many implications for them all. The cruise itself is only three days and in that time lives change. The question is, can their relationships weather the storm once they get back on dry land. How will their lives change and will they remain close?
    I loved this book as it showed how lives can change in an instant and how it’s not always as it first appears. The friendship was a major theme which was explored well and made me want a girl’s night – soon. I also loved that not everything was picture perfect, more like real life. It made the characters even more relatable.

  7. “Secrets Between Friends” is a really enjoyable novel that explores some of the strengths and weaknesses of long term friendships. Not everything in the plot is a surprise, but there are enough unexpected moments to keep you interested. Importantly, the warm and engaging characterisations will have most readers caring about the protagonists, and fully involved with their story.

    Abbie, Ricki and Jess have been friends since they were teenagers, a friendship forged as much because of their differences as their similarities. Peter is the fourth corner of their square; close to Jess long before she met the other two, he became friends with them and ultimately Ricki’s live in lover.

    The girls have booked a luxury cruise to celebrate the ten year anniversary of an event they all see as crucial in having formed their friendship. Although it’s not that meaningful to Peter, he’s convinced them to let him come along. And it’s at this point, when they’re all young and yet well advanced on the path to happiness, that things begin to falter.

    Each of the three finds herself facing a major crisis point in their life – and each has reasons not to share their crisis with their friends. The novel looks at why they keep secrets, whether that’s a good thing, and what happens when the secrets start tumbling out.

    Much of the strength of the novel comes from the characterisations. These are real people, with real problems, and you’re going to empathise with them and care about what happens to them individually, and to their friendship. Each of the characters are very distinctive, and you’ll have no trouble believing in them all.

    I really enjoyed this novel, and I think a lot of other people will too. Although it piles rather a lot of crisis into a short space of time, sometimes life does work like that. These are characters that you will quickly get involved with, and want good things for. It’s a well written novel, with an easy, flowing style that makes it easy to overlook how well constructed it is. Very highly recommended.

  8. Secrets Between Friends is Fiona Palmer’s first venture into Women’s Fiction and I hope it won’t be her last! I can honestly say that this book had me in tears at the end with the epilogue very hard to read, there are very few books that have made me cry!
    It tells the story of three childhood friends Ricki, Jess & Abbie who decide to go on a short cruise from Fremantle to celebrate their ten year reunion. Abbie is a real estate agent who hates her job, Jess is a single mum who is a teacher, and Ricki is a nurse who is in a relationship but not sure it is what she wants. They all have totally different lives but are best friends. All of them are keeping secrets from each other. All these secrets are gradually revealed during the course of their cruise, and the consequences will change their lives forever.
    Fiona wrote the characters so well, explaining their backgrounds and situations expertly. She touched on many contemporary issues such as single motherhood, domestic violence, drugs, illness & relationships. I was totally absorbed in all their stories – the addition of secondary male characters added to the investment I had in their stories. This was such a great read, at times I thought I knew what was going to happen, then a curve ball got thrown in not once but several times during the course of the story, with not everyone having their happy ever after, but at the conclusion I was quite satisfied with what happened to them all. I loved the setting and I think the research she did with Rachael Johns by going on a cruise themselves made it all the more real.
    Thank you so much to Hachette and Beauty & Lace for giving me the opportunity to read such a good book – we have such talent here in Australia.

  9. I was really looking forward to reading Secrets Between Friends written by Fiona Palmer. The setting for this novel is based in Western Australia, including Albany and Fremantle. I have visited both places, so I can visualize the surroundings and draws me into the story.

    The book revolves around the lives of three best friends Abbie, Ricki and Jess and their much anticipated 10 year reunion on a luxury cruise.
    I found the book so easy to read, once I got started I couldn’t put the book down. I felt connected to each of the three main characters in the book Abbie, Ricki and Jess.

    There was a lot I could relate to with each of the women as the story unfolded and I couldn’t wait to find out how this was going to end. The story tugged at my heartstrings and thoroughly captured me from the beginning to the end. A really enjoyable read, I can highly recommend it.

  10. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read ‘Secrets Between Friends’. I was looking forward to reading this book as I have read a number of books written by Fiona Palmer, and have enjoyed them.

    I managed to read this book quite quickly as I couldn’t put it down! It kept me captivated from the beginning to the end. I do quite enjoy books that either move between different time periods, or move between different characters (as in this case). While the story line had me hooked, there were a couple of times that I found the reaction of the characters slightly unbelievable. I also found that it made me feel slightly depressed due to the situations the characters found themselves in (either due to their own decisions or purely circumstantial).

    This book would appeal to those who enjoy romance and a bit of a gently unfolding mystery.

  11. Thank You Beauty and Lace and Hachette for the opportunity to read and review Fiona Palmers latest Book called Secrets between Friends.
    Wow I love this book I could relate to the characters and their secrets that they have hidden from each other in fear of hurting their friendships and ruining their holiday together. A lot of laughter and tears throughout this book but enjoyed it immensely could not put it down. I would highly recommend it to everyone.

  12. Secret between friends by Fiona Palmer was a very easy and enjoyable read. The novel was based on 4 friends who have grown up together and decided to take a cruise together. What starts off as a simple cruise ends up complicating or changing each and every one of them. I cried and laughed with this story and I highly recommend it.

  13. Thankyou to beauty and Lace, Fiona Palmer and Hachette for the chance of reading this book early. It is a book I was so excited to read from one of my all time favourite authors and it did not disappoint!
    Secrets between friends had me captivated from the very start! I literally couldn’t put it down and ended up reading the whole book in two sittings!
    I loved the idea of the cruise for the friends. All so similar but going through their own different battles.
    I felt connected to Abbie, Rikki and Jess from the start.
    Rikki was trying very hard to live a life she didn’t want to live for the sake of doing the “right thing” Although I disagreed with some of her choices, I warmed to her character and felt sorry for her.
    Jess- probably my fave character, so strong in everything she was doing/had done regardless of the outcome of her choices. I did get a huge surprise to find who her sons father was!
    The part with her brother was a real heartstopper, I couldn’t read fast enough to see what happened next! It was interesting to see the party of her brother the ice addict, as its such a part of society in our lives now, but not often written about.
    Abbie- I never expected that ending. I thought Abbie would be ok and take off with the doctor happily ever after. Although very surprised I liked the ending.
    I loved this book. So different to Fiona’a other books, but as usual so perfectly written! I hope Fiona thinks about writing more contemporary woman’s fiction like this book. I loved it, and it’s in my top 5 reads for 2017!
    Thankyou again for the opportunity to read this book!

  14. Fiona Palmer is one of my favorite authors so of course I loved this book. Such a wonderful story. I couldn’t put it down!

  15. ‘Secrets Between Friends’ by Fiona Palmer, is a beautiful story of friendship and love.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and literally couldn’t put it down . I wanted to know what would happen next.
    It is a story of three best friends, Jess, Abbie and Ricki who decide to go on a cruise to celebrate their ten year reunion. The girls friend and Ricki’s partner Peter also tags along.
    It is during this cruise that the ‘Secret’ that each one has been keeping from the other comes out.
    I loved how each chapter was an alternating perspective of each character, giving us a closer insight into their thoughts, feelings and perception of things.
    ‘Secrets Between Friends’ is an amazing book and an emotional read.
    Thank you Fiona Palmer, Beauty and Lace and Hatchette Australia for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

  16. Thank you to Beauty and Lace, Fiona Palmer and Hachette for the chance of reading this book, especially before it was released, felt very privileged!
    I hadn’t read a Fiona Palmer book before so wasn’t sure what to expect but what can I say other than, I loved it! I really struggled to put it down each night and was disappointed when I finished it I was enjoying it so much!
    I really enjoyed the storyline of 3 best friends (plus a boyfriend whom is also integral to the story) embarking on a cruise to recreate a trip they took 10 years previously. The girls were all really interesting characters that were described well so were easy to relate too and I found I liked all of them. I was really interested to read about their secrets and how these secrets can build up and potentially destroy friendships and lives.
    This book had me smiling, sympathising and crying. A terrific read that had me guessing to the end. 5 stars!

  17. Thank you to the Beauty and Lace Book club for giving me the opportunity to read and review the fantastic book Secret Between Friends by Fiona Palmer.

    This is the story of 3 young women who have been best friends since school. They all have very different lives and have some secrets that they have kept from each other to keep their friendship alive. There are some very happy moments and sad ones to in the book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I found it to be a page turner and very easy to read.

    I am so happy to have now discovered a fantastic Australian author in Fiona Palmer and will be reading some of her other books in the future.

  18. I really enjoyed Secrets Between Friends. It was the first of Fiona Palmer’s books that I have read but it won’t be the last!

    I must admit I thought this would be a light hearted chick lit type read and whilst it was that at times, there were definitely deeper, darker undertones and threads. These were characters who weren’t just dealing with who to date or what shoes went with their outfit.

    And in a slight spoiler, not everyone got their happy ever after with all their troubles wrapped up like a sitcom!

    My thanks to Beauty and Lace and to Hachette for the chance to read and review this book.

  19. I really enjoyed reading this book.. Fiona Palmer has written it well and I enjoyed the lightness of it. Definitely refreshing for a read. The cruise itself makes you feel like you are there as it is written! Would definitely recommend this book to other after something great to read!

  20. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read another enjoyable read. This time it was Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer.
    A gorgeous, easy to read book about 4 friends who take a cruise together. It’s the perfect mix of chic lit romance and gentle mystery.
    I actually read this whilst on a cruise myself and it was the perfect holiday read. Highly recommended by me and also by my Mum and sister in law who also devoured it on our trip!

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