Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Diane Chamberlain knows how to create suspense with plot elements she reveals to her readers, but keeps hidden from her characters. She did that successfully in Secrets She Left Behind with an important letter that isn't read when it should be and with a woman who develops relationships with two of the main characters without revealing her friendship with Maggie to Keith or her affair with Keith to Maggie. Both of those suspenseful twists keep her readers interested. The latter of the two is especially intriguing because it is an indirect way to reveal that the woman, Jen, is up to something harmful.
I was paging through Goodreads looking for an interesting book that was available through the NC digital library when I came across Secrets She Left Behind. It isn't the type of book I normally read and it is a sequel to another Diane Chamberlain book that I haven't read. So there were a couple of strikes against it up front. Still, it should be able to stand on its own. I enjoyed the aspect I mentioned previously. I was also pulled into the story by the fact that one part of the plot, arson committed by a young woman trying to impress a man, reminded me of a true event that occurred in 2002 in Greensboro, NC when Janet Danahey burned down an apartment building near the UNCG campus, killing four people.
I feel the writing in the book could have been tighter and the plot involved too many major subjects to treat any of them seriously. The novel covers alcoholism, birth defects, infidelity, arson, missing persons, burn victims, revenge, and more. Another review called this novel “too much of a soap opera.” I think that's a fair criticism. But that said, there are many people who enjoy the soaps. This book would appeal to them.
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