BOOK CLUB: The Secrets of Strangers

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Author: Charity Norman
ISBN: 9781760876715
Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman. This is by far the best book I have read in a long time! A definite must for lovers of suspense!


The cover says … “Riveting, Moving, Unputdownable”. It is all of that and so much more.

Five strangers, one café and the day that everything changed. It all takes place in the Tuckerbox, a London Café owned by Robert. The story is narrated by the key characters.

Neil: a homeless man who has only been able to afford a cup of tea due to a donation in his cup.
Abi: a Barrister in a rush to get to Court has texted her order ahead for “coffee to go”.
Mutesi:  an aged care worker who is coming off a night shift and is to have breakfast with her grandson and daughter in law.
Rosie: a staff member of the Café.
Then there is Sam: the apparently crazed gunman holding them hostage.
Eliza: is the Police Negotiator handling the siege.

Each of these characters has their own powerful story.

As Abi says “ We were rolling merrily along in different directions until he smashed into us and knocked us all off course. Now we are traveling together for a while”.

One person has been shot, but what will happen next and will they all make it out alive?

The book is so well written and the characters so engaging that you feel as if you are right there in that café with them!

It is a story of family, grief, loss, abuse, love, life and friendship. It is a book that makes you think. It is a book you can’t put down! I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it would be made into a movie.

Five out of five stars.

I have not read any other books by Charity Norman, The Secrets Of Strangers is her sixth book, to get through the strange times the world is going through right now, I will be certainly reading her previous books!

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading this book. You can read their reviews in the comments section below – or add your own!

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Secrets of Strangers

  1. Well Anne Steer. If you have not yet read any Charity Norman – where have you been? I promise the other 5 are each – in their way – equally gripping, fabulous stories. Each has wonderfully credible well-drawn characters with points of view which challenge our perceptions and judgements. Son-in-law is my personal favourite – how do you rebuild relationships when you are released from jail – but there is so much more, so very much more … alzheimers, long marriages, short marriages, children and their grandparents …. all beautifully described. And wen you’ve read that, 4 more ….
    Let me know how you get on!

  2. Wow. The Secrets of Strangers is an amazing book. It is definitely a must read. From start to finish the characters have you in their grasp. This is the first book of Charity Norman that I have read but it most definitely wont be the last. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for the opportunity to read this amazing book.

  3. The Secrets of Strangers is a very powerful story that is fast paced, engaging, thought provoking and unnerving psychological thriller by Charity Norman.

    It is another busy morning in Tuckbox Cafe in Balham, London which is filled with workers and everyday regulars who come in to get their morning coffee. Robert the owner is confronted by his stepson Sam, they argue and Sam leaves but returns with a gun and shoots Robert. Customers flee the scene but those left behind are held hostage. Eliza, Neil, Mutesi and Abi come from all different walks of life and have nothing in common but as time unravels not knowing if they will live or die, they open up to each other share their secrets, hopes, dreams and background as a means of support and survival. As the police negotiate outside, Eliza manages to build a rapport with Sam, listening as he tells his story and his sadness and what led him to do what he has done.

    This book reminded me of the siege in Sydney a few years ago and after you read it, it will stay with you as you get immersed in the lives of the hostages and Sam and what it must have been like for the victims in Sydney.

    It was a brilliant read which I highly recommend.

    Thank you to B&L and Allen Unwin AU for my chance to read in exchange for review.

  4. Fantastic! Fantastic! Fantastic! The Secrets of Strangers was riveting from the very beginning to the final paragraph.

    Congratulations to Charity Norman on producing such a wonderful novel. The characters are believable and the as the front cover suggests; ‘riveting, moving and unputdownable!” It certainly is!

    Highly recommend this as an addition to everyone’s booklist.

  5. The Secrets of Strangers had me in its grips from the very first page.

    Charity Norman had created a story that not only pulled on the heartstrings but also kept me in suspense as the events played out.

    I found that my allegiances moved as the story progressed and the characters were revealed, ending with a true show of support (and many used tissues).
    .
    I’m definitely be wanting to read more by this great author.

  6. Thankyou once again Beautyandlace for the chance to read The Secrets of Strangers. To Charity Norman thankyou for sharing this story.
    The Secrets of Strangers although starting out seemed as if it was going to be the worst nightmare for all who were trapped in a cafe with what appeared to be a deranged gunman. As the story progressed I found I fell in love with each of the hostages and even the poor misguided and abused Sam, the man who held all in fear of their lives.
    A very different book and one that kept me turning the pages over very quickly.

  7. The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman, is highly gripping, it demonstrates how fast life can change. Strangers going about their daily lives, when they are forced together by a terrifying event which will change their lives forever.

    The Tuckerbox cafe is a run of the mill coffee shop in London, high paced with the morning orders coming in. Robert the owner of the coffee shop along with his staff member Rosie deal with the morning rush.

    Abi, the young barrister, rushing from place to place, on a tight deadline texts in her order to the Tuckerbox cafe for a take away coffee. Neil and his loveable dog, stop by for a special treat as he received a few dollars in his donations cup. Mutesi is meeting her grandson and daughter in law for breakfast. Plus a few regular dinners are all enjoying their morning meals and coffees when a crazed gun man Sam opens fire in the shop. As the story unfolds we find out each characters back story.

    This is a fast paced novel which will appeal to many readers, a thriller with heart.

    Highly recommended

  8. The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman is a very powerful and tense story, which is full of suspense.

    A busy morning in Tuckbox Café in Balham, when a group of strangers going about their everyday business grabbing a morning coffee will have their lives changed forever. Robert owns the café and his stepson Sam confronts him, they argue, Sam leaves the Café and returns with a gun and the hostage situation begins. Sam has done the unthinkable and shot his stepfather. Many of the commuters escape the scene, but a number are left behind to face the reality of what has happened and are now hostages.

    The main characters involved in the hostage situation are Abi a lawyer, Neil ex-teacher now homeless due to his gambling addiction, and Mutesi a Tutsi woman from Rwanda and Police negotiator Eliza. They all have their own personal problems as well. None of the hostages have anything in common but work together to hopefully be set free, they open up and share secrets, dreams and past events as a way to support each other through the hostage situation. Eliza the police negotiator slowly builds a rapport with Sam as she listens to his life story and why he ended up at the Café and committed his crime.

    A great read and I would highly recommend.

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