At a recent bookstore event, a reader asked Diane Chamberlain if she had a favorite of her novels. Given her impressive backlist, I found her answer intriguing: novel three, which taught her the power of suspense and helped her find her writing voice. I ordered Secret Lives immediately.
Secret Lives is an evocative, dual timeline page-turner that gripped me from page one. (Spoiler alert—Diane’s right about the suspense.)
Eden is a beautiful, Oscar-winning actress. She projects—and protects—a squeaky-clean image, even dating the co-star she likes but doesn’t love. Inside she’s broken and lonely: the little girl abandoned in an orphanage after her mother’s death. Trust and passion are two emotions she can’t allow herself to feel.
Nursing the hurt of her ex-husband’s remarriage and eager to escape Hollywood, Eden returns to her childhood home to write a screenplay about her mother, Katherine Swift, the famous children’s author Eden barely remembers. Eden has questions, but no answers: Why did her mother write in a cave? Why did her uncle close it off and insist it stay closed after her mother’s death? Why did her uncle and his wife not rescue her earlier from the orphanage?
After her uncle hands her—one by one—Katherine’s journals, Eden becomes fascinated and then horrified by truths she doesn’t want to know. Angry and confused she turns to Ben, the sole employee of her uncle’s archaeological dig, unaware that Ben is keeping a dangerous secret of his own. One with the power to destroy her career and reputation.
As the story weaves from Eden and Ben to Katherine’s powerful journal entries, it reveals disturbing family secrets, undiagnosed mental illness, and tragedy. But this story is also filled with unconditional love, good people, and second chances. Yes, there’s darkness, but there’s also hope and above all else, survival.