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3.9 out of 5 stars
Family Secrets: A Novel
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
go looking for the truth about their paternal grandmother - the one who gave her own son up and wanted the truth to be hidden.

4.5 blue ribbons

Sisters Vanessa, Elie and Georgiana are all disillusioned and unhappy with the lives they've been leading up until this point. They're ready to make changes but it's hard when you're stuck in a rut. Their lives are about to take a sudden expected turn when a note from the woman who'd given their father up soon after his birth is found in a Bible which their father kept. With their father's death still fresh in their minds, the women are stunned to learn that their mother has decided to give up the home they've grown up in and move to France to be with a man none of her daughters even know about.

Vanessa's marriage to Scott has become monotonous. It's boring and predictable and she longs for intimacy on so many levels that just aren't there with Scott. When she tries to express her feelings about her mother's move to Paris, all she gets in response is the sound of his snoring.

As an associate editor for the fashion magazine Stiletto, Elie is `in the know' about all the hot spots, styles, and anything else associated with the `good life.' The career just isn't enough anymore for her, she longs for marriage and children and a man that would love her - and only her.

Georgiana works as a hand and foot model making an ungodly amount of money for her time. Even though it's been a profitable job for her, she desires something more meaningful than constantly worrying about the condition of her hands and feet.

Wile their mother's unexpected move to Paris throws all of the women into a tailspin, the mysterious note from their father's natural mother to the woman who raised him has them all curious about this paternal grandmother. Who is she and why did she choose to give her child up? And why did she want to keep her existence a secret from him? Vanessa, Ellie and Georgiana are determined to find the answers to their questions and all they have to go on is the name she signed to the letter sixty-one years ago and the postmark on the envelope which was mailed from Deer Lodge, Montana. Together the women set out for Montana. Maybe along the way reconnect with each other in a way they haven't for a very long time as well as rediscover the people they were each meant to be before life and everyday demands got in the way.

Judith Henry Wall's FAMILY SECRETS is an unexpected treat. While not being the type of book I would have normally selected I was intrigued by the characters and found myself eagerly reading to find out what would happen next. There was always something that captured my interest and kept me with my nose glued to the pages. I was especially intrigued by the women's mother's `out of the blue' decision to move to Paris. It's obvious she loves her daughters but it just seemed like an odd move to make. Then we have the issue of Hattie and the note. If you're expecting some little old lady in a rocking chair well, you're dead wrong and I was stunned when the truth of the whole situation was revealed. This is one book you won't want to miss. It has it all - a little romance, lots of suspense, characters you'll want to get to know, but most importantly friendship and family support.

Chrissy Dionne (courtesy of Romance Junkies)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I've bought and read all Judith Henry Wall's novels and enjoyed them all in various degrees. This one was probably my least favorite, mainly because it was so hard to believe. Ms. Wall is a fine writer, so it's disappointing when one of her books doesn't live up to expectations. Still, this story was entertaining, even as I was shaking my head and wondering how she'd come up with some of her plot ideas and whether or not she has any trusted readers to tell her when something is too far-fetched. Come on, Ms. Wall -- you can do better than this. There aren't enough good women's fiction writers out there; please don't let us down again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2007
I loved this book. The story was so strange and far-fetched that it was very entertaining, yet captivating because it kept my interest. I wanted to find out how it would end. It didn't have a nice, neat ending with everything tied up, but left the reader wondering what really happened at the end. It's hard to explain, you just have to read it. I don't want to give away the ending and ruin the suspense for anyone. I just thought, wow! as I read about the grandmother's background. I thought it was really cool how she lived in such a huge, fancy house out in no where, and really managed to completely change her life. I also found the three sisters to be more interesting as the book progresssed. At first, I thought they were all very shallow. It seemed like only the oldest sister, Vanessa, was well developed. I liked the mother, Penelope, very much. She chose happiness and taught her daughters to as well. I found this book very entertaining and interesting. The grandmother's character was so interesting. I found myself admiring her perseverance and ambition in spite of her poor start and was amazed at how devious she was. I also felt sorry for her that she used such poor judgment going along with the Josh's plan. The love they had was so sweet.

This book has so much to discuss about the different relationships. It was the first book I've read by this author, but I certainly plan to read some more by her.

One thing I think would have made it better was if I felt I was going through the drama the sisters went through. It seemed like I was watching the story instead of being drawn into it. Maybe if it had been written in first person from one of their perspectives, I would have felt more a part of the action.

Karen Arlettaz Zemek, Author of "My Funny Dad, Harry"
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I just love Ms. Wall's books, and can't remember the last time I was disappointed by one. This was an odd book for me though, cause on one hand, while learning about Hattie's past, the story seemed to get more and more wild and unbelievable. But on the other hand I could hardly put it down cause I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. But then again, I did have a bit of a problem with the ending. It seemed rushed, and unfinished.

I won't summarize this book since it's already been done here, but despite the fact that the story of Hattie's mysterious past is such a far-fetched tale, and the events afterwards are very choppy and leave the reader with some unanswered questions (i.e. who opened the mine door, and who exactly killed the person who dies at the end of the story and why??), it's still a good book. I'll admit it's not my favorite Judith Henry Wall novel, but an entertaining story nonetheless.
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on July 29, 2008
I have read and enjoyed all of Judith Henry Wall's books. However, there always seems to a totally unbelievable part in almost every book I've read and unfortunatly, this is no different. Three sisters and a half wit in a sealed off mine?

I noticed this trend with Handsome Women (my favorite book by the author.) In this one we had a small boy eaten by a shark. It sounds comical as I type these words - but like I said - there is always something dramatic like that in each of her books.

Other than that, I found it interesting but with no real ending.
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on August 31, 2008
I have never read anything by this author before, but, this was an impossible to believe book... 3 sisters go searching for their grandmother and she turns out to be a powerful business tycoon who's son is running for governor with his eye on the presidency...but, she turns out to be a murdering bank robber who has the sisters locked in an abandon mine....come on....oh and one of the sisters finds love in the midst of all of this......
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on February 4, 2014
This book will appeal to all ages and both sexes. Curl up and expect to hold your breath. Another winner.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
On her sixtieth birthday, Widow Penelope informs her three daughters that she moving to France to be with a man Jean Claude none of them met. Additionally they learn that their paternal grandmother did not die in childbirth as they were told.

After the first earthquake shocks pass, the three siblings react differently to the revelations. Mother of two Vanessa, who has marital troubles and hates her job and suburban lifestyle, cannot cope with her mom running off with some interloper. This leads to a family feud with her sisters, associate editor of Stiletto magazine Ellie and hand and foot supermodel Georgiana. Penelope wants her daughters happy so she offers to pay for a retreat. The trio takes her up on her offer, but decides to go to Montana to learn what they can about their grandmother Hattie, whom they assumed died in childbirth but recently found proof that she gave her son (their father) away. Instead Hattie is alive and so is another offspring, the uncle of the three sisters, who is running for governor; Hattie needs the story of the one she gave away to her Aunt Vera remain concealed.

This family drama starts off with a simple premise of the adult daughters battling over their widow mother's plans to remarry and relocate, but effortlessly converts into three women in danger. The story line picks up the pace once the siblings choose to "vacation" in Montana in order to meet their apteral grandmother and never slows down until the final confrontation inside a cave. Although the ending seems simply off kilter, fans will appreciate the three sisters meeting "grandmommy" dearest.

Harriet Klausner
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