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The Family Secret

The Family Secret 2

by Fiona Palmer

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 03/10/2016

4/5 Rating 2 Reviews

The highly anticipated new Christmas release from Penguin's bestselling rural romance writer.

From one of Australia’s favourite storytellers comes a heartwarming story spanning three generations about when to fight and when to surrender and how new love can heal old wounds.

Kim Richards is a creative woman of the land, a rural ambassador who’s renowned for her contribution to her community. But deep down, she’s lonely. She’s already watched the man she loves falls for someone else, and her dream of starting her own family feels like it’s slipping through her fingers.

Enter Charlie McNamara, an older man who’s arrived in Lake Grace on business. Sparks fly between Kim and Charlie, but he seems to have a hidden agenda and a past life he’s trying to hide.

They’re both drawn to local hermit Harry, a Vietnam veteran who’s haunted by memories from the war. What ties these lost souls together? Can they solve a long-held family mystery and heal fractures of the heart?

‘Fiona Palmer has well and truly earned her place as a leading writer of one of Australia’s much loved genres.’ - Countryman

Adult & contemporary romance
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Penguin Australia Pty Ltd
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Fiona Palmer

After writing eight bestselling novels set in rugged rural Australia, Fiona Palmer set herself the challenge of writing a story that takes place on Western Australia's gorgeous coastline, which she regularly visits.

Secrets Between Friends contains the same engaging storylines, emotions and hearty characters as the books Fiona's passionate readers know and love, only it is set on this wider landscape.

Before becoming an author, Fiona was a speedway driver for seven years and now spends her days writing both women's and young adult fiction, working as a farmhand and caring for her two children in the tiny rural community of Pingaring, 350km from Perth.

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  • a very enjoyable read.

    by on

    4.5 stars

    The Family Secret is the ninth stand-alone novel by Australian author, Fiona Palmer. Kimberley Richards loves running their family farm near Lake Grace with her brother, Matt, and for relaxation she has her metal sculpting, a hobby in which her talent is obvious. But at twenty-eight, she longs to share her life with a partner. She’s coming to terms with the fact that Drew, the man she loves, is marrying another, but her two other significant relationships have left her guarding her heart.

    When Charlie McNamara comes to Lake Grace it’s for a specific purpose, and he knows his job as Elders Insurance agent will allow him to make his enquiries. He comes across an attractive woman installing a brilliant metal kangaroo in the main street and is immediately attracted: he can see the feeling is mutual. He shouldn’t let this gorgeous female distract him, but she’s hard to resist.

    Harry the Hermit is a somewhat legendary figure, and when foul weather throws them together, Kim is wary. Turns out Harry is a Vietnam veteran, helping Tom Murphy on this farm, growing his own veggies and happy in the company of his dogs. Despite the local gossip about him, Kim decides his bark is worse than his bite.

    Palmer’s story is split into two time periods: the present day is narrated by Kim and Charlie; the events of the late 1960’s are told by John Parson. Palmer captures the feel of each era with consummate ease, and her extensive research into the experiences of Vietnam soldiers is clearly apparent, as is her knowledge of farming in Western Australia.

    Although this is essentially a romance novel, Palmer does touch on issues both topical and age-old: the gender role in farming; the effect of conscription on the rural community; succession of the family farm; and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    While this book can be read as a stand-alone, readers will recognise certain characters from Palmer’s earlier novel, The Saddler Boys. This gentle-paced rural romance has a bit of mystery and a strong Australian flavour, making it a very enjoyable read.
    With thanks to GoodReads Giveaways and the author for this copy to read and review.

  • Rural story of love, loss and family.

    by on

    The Family Secret takes us back to the setting of The Saddler Boys, and reacquaints us with the characters we fell in love with. We return to the small town of Lake Grace, a place of community and family where everyone knows everyone; and their business.

    Kim is a farm-girl through and through, sharing the running of her family’s farm with her brother. She’s been unlucky in love, falling for her best friend and having her trust in men destroyed by past lovers. I don’t think it helps that in a town as small as Lake Grace the options are rather limited, and Kim’s love of the farm keeps her dressed as a farmer and under the radar of the men in town she has known most of her life. Kim is also an extremely talented artist though she only recognises it as a hobby. She is involved in a lot of things around town so her downtime is definitely limited.

    Charlie moves to town as an insurance agent and there is immediate chemistry but Charlie is carrying quite a bit of baggage of his own. There is more to his arrival in Lake Grace than meets the eye and he’s not ready to share the information.

    These two are interesting leads; Kim is a woman happy in her life but lonely and wondering if she will ever have the family she so desperately desires and Charlie is distancing himself from his family so that he can wrap his head around his discovery and try to find the answers he seeks.

    Early on though we meet another new character, a man called Harry who works on a local farm and never leaves the property. There have been stories around town for years and he was a character the kids used to scare each other with stories of. Kim meets him one night in the middle of a storm when she gets stranded between floodways and drops her phone in the water. After initial worry because of all the stories she has heard she goes with her gut and spends the evening with Harry.

    Kim and Harry get on well and seem to form a connection, Kim is drawn to the older generation for the stories they can tell and the history they carry. This is the beginning of a budding friendship that sees Kim stop in to visit semi-regularly.

    This story contains quite an intriguing element of suspense, it is written from different perspectives and two different time periods. We spend some time in the late sixties when a local Lake Grace man is drafted and prepares to head to Vietnam.

    All of the elements of the story run on their own arc and some start to come together before others.

    Fiona has written another involving small town story that will pull you in and not let you go. The characters are well written and three dimensional, they are all sympathetic and relatable.

    The Vietnam war is a time in history that is hard for anyone to understand that wasn’t there. I am not familiar with the period in more than a perfunctory manner. I know that Australians were conscripted for national service and were required to do their duty for their country, whether they agreed or not. I also know that many Australians didn’t agree with our troops being involved at all and our returned servicemen were given quite a hard time when they did make it back. Palmer has done some extensive research into the Vietnam war and it shows, we have letters home from Vietnam and whole chapters told by soldiers on their tour of duty. We also have a heartbreaking look at life for one returned soldier.

    The Family Secret is a heart-warming story of family and community, a heart-breaking look at PTSD and a welcome return to the picturesque town of Lake Grace.