My Sister's Secret by Tracy Buchanan

Title - My Sister's Secret
Author - Tracy Buchanan 
Publication Date - August 13th 2015
Publisher - Avon
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 400

Everything you've built your life on is a lie.

Willow's memories of her parents are sun-drenched and full of smiles, love and laughter. But a mysterious invitation to a photographic exhibition exposes a secret that's been buried since a tragic accident years ago.

Willow is forced to question everything she knew about Charity, her late mother, and Hope, the aunt she's lived with since she was a child. 

How was the enigmatic photographer connected to Willow's parents? Why will Hope not break her silence?

Willow cannot move forward in her life until she has answers. But who can she really trust? Because no one has been telling the truth for a very long time.

Well, after having given myself almost a couple of days rest after the turbulent journey which was neatly tucked away within this rather innocent-looking novel, I finally feel able to put my words together into what I hope will be a somewhat coherent order, fingers crossed anyway. My Sister's Secret by Tracy Buchanan was incredible, moving me to tears, forcing heartache and immense sadness upon me, as the gut-wrenching tale of three sisters involved began to unravel. This is Tracy Buchanan's second novel with HarperCollins, and I'm positively itching to get my hands on a copy of her first novel The Atlas of Us, because wow, this author knows how to tell a tale or two.

In My Sister's Secret by Tracy Buchanan, we're greeted by an incredibly atmospheric opening involving the three sisters, Faith, Charity and Hope, together on the beach near their home in Busby-on-Sea, 1977. Just with this one chapter, I was able to picture the sisters perfectly, each one unique and fascinating in their very own way. The author provided me with the most beautiful of descriptions, of not only the characters that would play their roles in the novel that would soon unravel, but of the surroundings and setting too. Already, I was aware of a strange, unsettling undertone, I'm not even sure of how I picked up on it, but there was something there which the author was pulling forward for me to notice, even if it was incredibly vague. Because of Buchanan's tone, my senses became immediately heightened, and I found myself straining to find even the tiniest thing that would solidify my guessing towards what was about to come. It truly was the most brilliantly mysterious way to begin this novel, a novel of powerful, life-changing secrets, dark and troubled pasts, and love gone by. Just thinking about it makes me well up, so I'll move swiftly on before I begin sobbing into my keyboard...

I found that the continuous switching of not only narrative, but between the past and present too, worked wonders with me as a reader. Only a short way into this novel, I began to feel wholly involved and invested in not only the sister's long-ago past as Tracy showed me the way back in time, but in Willow's life too, in the present day, who was the daughter of Charity, and niece of Hope and Faith. For me, being able to study the 'then' and the 'now' was pure magic, and had me completely and utterly fascinated by how past events would shape Willow's future. It was mystifying to the say the least, and Buchanan held me captive as the novel developed and progressed, growing meatier as each chapter added more intrigue to the plot. I was a prisoner to Buchanan's words, grabbing everything the author offered to me and turning it over and over in my mind to figure out where its place was in the novel. I felt like I discovered something new as each page flicked over, and what made it even more excited was finding out morsels of information before the characters themselves. I adored how I was able to watch how the past shaped the here and now, and at the same time, I couldn't get enough of seeing how the here and now had fallen into place because of the past. There was so many secrets to be told, so many different aspects for me to lose myself within, and just the right amount of characters to regale me with their personal tales and views of what happened all those years before.

The relationships between not only the sisters, but Willow and her aunt in the present day, were interesting to say the least, and I admired the spotlight which Buchanan chose to shine on those relationships greatly, as they clearly played a very important role within A Sister's Secret. Alongside the more momentous points in the plot, I thoroughly enjoyed watching how the characters, from the past as well as the present, interacted with each other, and reacted to each other. It was clear, from Buchanan's vague hints and slight clues, that something had happened before Willow had came along, and it didn't take long for the curious young woman to realise that something was amiss, something that she couldn't seem to leave alone and step away from. 

Willow's character was one which I enjoyed, pretty much from the beginning. She seemed brave to me, inquisitive and the sort of person who, once sniffed out a thread of mystery, couldn't stop herself from digging deeper and deeper. It intrigued me as to how Willow and her aunt Hope had reached the point in their relationship where they seemed mildly off with the each other. Hope cared for Willow greatly, but I wanted to know desperately how Willow had come to stay with Hope, what had happened beforehand for Willow to have felt the way she did. It was all very mysterious, and I couldn't wait to find out more, trying to dig further into the novel in very much the same way that Willow began to do so too. Shrouded in shadows and only providing me with the tiniest of olive-branches, this novel kept me guessing right the way through until the very end, where finally, I was able to take a deep breath as realisation floored me. 

I really don't feel like I can say too much without revealing anything important within the plot, but this was a brilliantly mapped and plotted novel, taking me from here to there and back again, leaving me dizzy with emotion and disbelief. It was powerful, emotional and utterly moving, resulting in tears a fair few times throughout. The characters were beautiful, and the author presented them to me in the most effective of ways. I loved this novel, everything included. I was involved in the story and that characters completely, cared them so deeply and was gutted when the novel came to an end. I wanted to re-live it all over again, and I'm certain that I will do when I have the chance. Incredible.

Becca's Books is awarding My Sister's Secret by Tracy Buchanan with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! A fantastic story of love, forgiveness, and discovering the truth, as well as an adventure or two along the rocky path.


1 comment :

  1. Switching narrative between characters and writing with alinear time? It sounds almost too much to follow, and yet your stunning review makes it seem like the narrative devices were as smooth as sea glass!