Sunday 25 February 2018

The Mother's Secret by Clare Swatman @clareswatman @panmacmillan @rosiewilsreads #TheMothersSecret

Love keeps us together
Sisters Kate and Georgie have always shared a close bond. While Kate enjoyed the freedoms of youth, Georgie remained at home. But now Georgie is grown up, it’s time she started exploring.
Love can tear us apart
Their mother Jan loves her daughters with all her heart. So what if she kept them out of sight when they were young? She just cared for them so much. She wanted to protect them.
What if your life was based on a lie?
Maybe there was another reason for Jan’s protective behaviour? If they ventured too far afield, it might destroy the facade of their childhood. This family’s about to discover that while lies can cause pain, the truth could destroy them all.

The Mother's Secret by Clare Swatman is published in paperback by Pan Macmillan on 22 February 2018, and is the author's second book. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I read and reviewed Clare Swatman's first novel, Before You Go (published in February 2017), here on Random Things and I was very impressed. I've been looking forward to her second book for a long time. I haven't been disappointed, this is a wonderfully written story that is emotionally touching, I loved it.

The Mother's Secret opens with a mysterious prologue that is both chilling and a little disturbing. Georgie is dreaming of her childhood home, but it is empty of all possessions, it is dark and unwelcoming and there's something strange in the garden. This feeling of unease accompanies both the reader, and Georgie throughout the rest of the story.

Present day; and adult Georgie has made a decision. She's never been adventurous, she's never flown, she didn't marry the father of her daughter. She's decided that it's time to change things. She's going to take the opportunities that her sister Kate always embraced. She will take her family on their first family holiday, abroad.
Georgie and Kate have a close, loving sisterly relationship. Brought up by a single mother, they were protected as children, but Kate was always given a little more freedom than Georgie. Their mother Jan has early onset dementia and Kate seems to be taking most of the responsibility for her care. Georgie always felt like the odd one out.

Georgie has to search Jan's attic to try to find her birth certificate. She's never had a copy, she's never needed one. Her mother always told her that getting married would spoil her relationship, and why on earth would she need to holiday abroad. She doesn't find the birth certificate, but what she does find, and what is clearly missing will change Georgie's whole life. It seems that Jan has long-held secrets, and these are devastating, both for Georgie and her family, and for another family who have suffered for many years.

Clare Swatman has written a story that really pulls at the heart strings. Both the modern-day story and Jan's own tale, set back in the 1970s are emotionally fraught, beautifully developed and conjure up questions for the reader. What would I do? What would I feel?

The devastating loss of a child is told through different points of view, and in very different circumstances, but each mother in this story has suffered their own personal and horrifying loss. Despite the rights and wrongs of the actions of the characters, the reader cannot help but empathise with what happens, and why.

I was especially impressed with the author's ability to seamlessly join together the two strands of her story. Jan's story, set in the 1970s was a nostalgic trip back in time for me and evoked a strong sense of era. whilst the modern-day telling from Georgie herself is bang up to date and relevant.

Clare Swatman is a talented author, who is going from strength to strength. The Mother's Secret is a profoundly touching and very moving. With themes of love and loss, and hidden truths, I found it impossible to put down.

Clare Swatman is a journalist for a number of weekly women's magazines. 
The Mother's Secret is her second novel.
Clare was Features Editor for Bella and has written for Best, Woman's Own and Real People.
When not working on her next novel, she also writes for her local magazine as well as the travel pages for Take A Break.
Clare lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two boys

For more information visit
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @clareswatman

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