This is one of those psychological thrillers that is designed to keep you on your toes with the story of two pregnant women.
Agatha is working in the local supermarket when she spies one of the customers Meghan meeting with the other local mothers, ones like her who go to yoga and meet for coffee. Meghan is also pregnant and it looks like their due dates are similar.
Agatha wants Meghan’s life and she soon engineers a situation so that they can bond over their upcoming new arrivals, but Meghan’s life isn’t quite what Agatha perceives it to be… and maybe Agatha is becoming a little too obsessed for both of their sakes.
The novel employs the dual-narrative device with great success giving the reader the ability to see behind the doors of both women’s lives and raising the tension to sometimes unbearable levels which meant this reader spent nearly the whole duration of the book on the edge of her seat.
With the two women coming from entirely different backgrounds and approaching their lives in very different ways it is hard to see how a friendship would ever be possible, but that doesn’t take into account Agatha’s devious nature, when she wants something, she will go for it. The fact that Meghan has become adept at presenting a mask to the world results in some preconceptions that those around her are only too willing to accept as the truth. The success of this book is that more than one character has a secret but which one will cause the most devastating results?
Michael Robotham has shown his skill at creating characters we should dislike but given them enough humanity that the result was I felt a measure of compassion for them. This takes this psychological thriller away from the realms of the deeply unpalatable character doing crazy things and the reader’s thrill is in seeing how bad things can get; In The Secrets She Keeps, even when it was obvious that the story wasn’t heading to a good place, I almost wanted it all to turn out all right, for everyone. This is in part to the flaws in the secondary characters too, no one in this book is saintly but nor are they outright sinners, which gives depth to what is undoubtedly a compulsive read.
This book could also be read as a modern fable so strong is the deadly sin of envy running through each and every page. Agatha thinks that because Meghan has a handsome husband, a beautiful child, a big house and can shop without worrying about what she spends that her life is more successful than hers where she resents taking her shop overall home to wash, preferring to hide it in the storeroom away from the eyes of the disagreeable owner. By being privy to Meghan’s thoughts we know that Agatha’s assessment of her life isn’t quite true and in the end Meghan realises exactly what matters most to her.
I was grateful to receive a review copy of The Secrets She Keeps from the publishers Sphere via NetGalley and this unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author for a fabulous read.