- File Size: 4308 KB
- Print Length: 392 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Mary Grand (August 24, 2016)
- Publication Date: August 24, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01L0EZ6MQ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,467 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Hidden Chapters: A powerful novel exploring motherhood, adoption, and family secrets Kindle Edition
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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About the Author
I now live on the beautiful Isle of Wight with my husband, where I walk my cocker spaniel Pepper and write. I have two grown up children.
'Free to Be Tegan'was my debut novel. It has been well received, with a review average of4.7 from 91 reviews at amazon.co.uk. The second 'Hidden Chapters' is set on the spectacular Gower Peninsula. I have also published a short bookof short stories 'Catching the Light'.
Do send feedback to me at email@example.com
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In this story, lies and secrets did much more than that to Catrin: they changed the course of her life and stopped her from following her dreams. Only now, when her younger daughter is turning eighteen, does Catrin discover the truth behind the events of her youth.
I found this novel riveting even though it is not perfect. The typos, a scene in which the timing seems wrong, and deafness, which appears as an added factor, irrelevant to the main storyline, all detracted from my enjoyment. Yet, I enjoyed reading it very much and continue to think about the effects of lives and secrets on the characters in this story, as well as on real people in real life.
They will celebrate the talented young man, who died so young. However, the gathering brings up old wounds for more than one character and secrets from the past are revealed.
Bethan is a skilled musician and her grandfather would like to help her make a rich life in America. Catrin hasn’t been back to the Gower for eighteen years, and she’s never understood her father’s hostility towards her. Elizabeth needs to lay her own ghosts to rest, and the memorial service offers her this opportunity.
I jumped at the chance to read this book because I’ve been to the Gower on several occasions visiting friends and attending weddings, so I was looking forward to a reminder of the area. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the location and its history. I thought that Catrin’s personal story moved well through a strong arc, ending in a most satisfactory way. However, the writing style was a challenge for me. I enjoy a book where dialogue is used to enhance the narrative and give the characters their own unique voices, but much of the plot in Hidden Chapters is related in large chunks of dialogue, which to me felt unnatural. There is much exposition: the characters explain points in order to get them across to the audience when, often, the characters would already have known the points she/he was making. I advise the author to make the most of the strengths of this nicely thought out story by finding a different way of putting information across, so that the reader is being told a story, rather than facts via conversation.
I liked many of the characters, particularly Bethan and how she overcame her challenges. Glamorous Elizabeth was well suited to her lifestyle too and I enjoyed how she evolved. I learnt much about deafness and sign language; however, in places it became repetitive, and at times more like a lecture than a story.
The whole storyline is about discovery of hidden truths and it makes for high emotions amongst the players. For me, the potential to take the reader on a rollercoaster wave was missed. I would have like to see a wider range of emotions, perhaps going deeper with shock, fear, pain etc rather than using shouting and anger in most of the key moments.
The book has its good points and the Welsh setting will be a plus for some, but I'm afraid it missed the mark for me.
Mary’s opening chapter sends shivers up the spine with her keen description of the waterfront, the discovery of a young girl washed up on the beach. We meet Catrin as she discovers the victim with Gareth and Catrin’s brother Aled is missing and dies in the same mysterious area. The synopsis states it more clearly: ‘Summer 1994 - With a glittering future as an architect ahead of him, golden child Aled mysteriously dies on Worm’s Head, a tidal island at the dramatic Rhossili Bay on the Welsh Gower Peninsula. Summer 2012 - Catrin, Aled’s sister, returns to The Dragon House for the first time since Aled’s death with Bethan, her adopted Deaf daughter. They join family for a memorial service to Aled to prepare the house for sale. She longs to put the past behind her. However, the web of lies and secrets which have been spun by her father and others slowly starts to unravel. Catrin, facing a crisis in her marriage, discovers that she must face this past if she is to heal and take control of her future. Elizabeth, Bethan’s wealthy birth mother, has hidden her past. Crisis in her life prompts her to attend the memorial and see her birth daughter Bethan for the first time. Her arrival sends shock waves through the family.’
Mary’s ability to spin tales that incorporate unusual characters and circumstances is uncanny. Her prose, while eloquent, is at time difficult to follow – until the reader realizes that Mary has placed pertinent stumbling blocks in her story to propel the tension. In addition to being a story on the grand scale, this novel is also one that examines motherhood on several levels, the intricacies of adoption, and secrets that keep a family together as well as isolating the members for the truth. In the end it shares with the reader the importance of hope and the durability of courage in facing the pat to mold the future well. Tough story, exceptionally well related. Grady Harp, August 16
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Top international reviews
Hidden Chapters is a character driven novel of family drama. The central character is Catrin as she has a lot to cope with. We also have interesting family members too, Lloyd her father, Gareth her husband plus their two daughters Bethan and Lowri. Dog owners will enjoy the inclusion of Safi, a new pet for Catrin’s birthday. And then we have an old face from the past adding emotion and history to the tale.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hidden Chapters. I found it to be better than other character driven family dramas because it had a unique angle that was developed and explained. This added value to this novel is something we don’t generally hear a lot about in mainstream fiction. Catrin’s youngest daughter Bethan was born Deaf.
Don’t get me wrong, Hidden Chapters is NOT a book about hearing OR disability, it is one of secrets and lies. I enjoyed the pace of this novel and the depths of emotions that were skillfully woven into the plot. I quickly developed an empathy for all the characters and enjoyed how life’s challenges were explored. We have adoption, education, adult dreams about their future, loss of a loved one and how to deal with secrets and lies.
I found Hidden Chapters to be a warm cosy read with a lot of love flowing out of the pages. It was a very pleasant and pleasing read for me. I think it is easy for men to put themselves into Catrin’s shoes.
Mary Grand taught Deaf children in Croydon and Hastings which gave her some great insights that she was able to use in Hidden Chapters. I thought these extras added a lot to this novel. It put the character of Bethan and her hearing into perspective. It was nice that Mary did not make hearing a focus of her novel but included it as part of life. I am a coach driver on the National Express network and we support Deaf passengers. I found these sections of Hidden Chapters to be a great refresher with my job as Deaf passengers can so easily miss out and we do not want to add any more stress to their journey. I would like to quote some sections of Hidden Chapters about hearing that I thought particularly should be highlighted…
...The Man serving might mumble or look away so that Bethan couldn’t lip read him or, if he saw hearing aids, and actually realised she was Deaf, he might over-enunciate in some kind of pantomime, making lip reading impossible. Of course, he might be the kind of person who refused to even try to communicate, who would stare at her blankly, and claim that he could not understand her simply because of her intonation was a bit flat and nasal.
‘It was easy. Do you know I ordered a round of drinks in the pub the other night? Orange juice for me, of course,’ Bethan added, grinning in a way that did nothing to reassure her mother. ‘Anyway, this woman behind the bar kept saying ‘What?’ to me, and looking at Sabrina to ask her what I was saying. Sabrina, of course, refused to play. In the end, the woman gave me a piece of paper and a pen, and told me to write down my order, so I wrote, ‘You’re a stupid cow,’ and handed it back to her.’
‘Dad told me the girl is, what do they call it now? Hearing impaired. Is that right?’
‘Actually, Bethan prefers to say she is Deaf. There are people you see that say the word impairment means something needs to be fixed. She was born Deaf.’
‘Lowri tells me you do music. How does that work? Is is all done by vibration?’
Bethan tutted. ‘It’s far more complicated than that. Hearing is only a small part of enjoying music. It’s multi-sensory, a physical thing. Music is a feeling, an emotion. A deaf person feels music within the vibrations in the same part of the brain that hearing people use when the melodies you love get caught in your head.’
‘She’s done well, hasn’t she? We’re so proud of her. It’s been a lot of hard work. People don’t realise how much effort she puts in. Take lip-reading. Actually, only about thirty per cent of English is visible on the lips, and she needs lots of other cues to really follow what you are saying. It’s why they call it speech reading now, Bethan is watching teeth, cheeks, eyes, facial expressions, and body language to piece together what you’re saying.’
‘To start signing with Bethan was a big decision. You see, there were plenty of professionals who said that if I signed with Bethan she would never learn to talk.’
‘Yes. The idea is, you see, that she has this tiny bit of hearing, her residual hearing, and she must work hard at using that. They said that if she signed she wouldn’t, and so would never learn to talk. The way I saw it, Bethan was getting very frustrated. It didn’t seem fair, so I found someone prepared to teach us, and that is the way we went. The expression they used then was ‘total communication’, when you use speech and signing in parallel. I think it’s called something different now.’
When he had gone, she looked at Bethan. ‘How ignorant can you get?’
‘I’ve had worse. One waiter asked me if I needed a menu in Braille.’
‘You get used to it.’
Bethan was signing with Lowri. Catrin watched in awe, struck with the beauty of the signing, understanding again why signing had been described as dancing with words. As Catrin watched, she experienced a deep sense of calm. There were no more ghosts, no more hidden chapters.
...So I found Hidden Chapters to be a lovely warm cosy read that ticked all the boxes for me. Yes, I shed the odd tear along the way but that is due to strong story-telliing by a quality author. Well done Mary, your second novel gets the top score of 5 stars from me.
Catrin along with daughters Lowrie and Bethan, journey back to Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula to help pack up the house. What actually happens is not so much a packing away as a peeling back the layers to reveal the hidden secrets and lies that go back much further than the fateful night that the book opens with.
It was an intriguing story with Catrin enmeshed in the centre first as the dutiful daughter, loving sister and then as supportive wife and mother. From the outset I think it was clear that all was not as it had been portrayed to, and by, Catrin. The story line was very much played out largely within the dialogue between the characters and though this worked for the most part, on occasions, the conversations felt a bit stilted as they endeavoured to reveal facts and plot. Equally some characters I felt were there as a means of relaying plot and were less rounded. Beyond that though, the characters worked well, and Catrin was for me, the most sympathetic character, though I took a while to warm to her. Initially I felt like shouting at her to stop being so reasonable and unselfish, but as the story unravelled, I was quite admiring she had any self belief left at all. I have to say the male gender did not cover themselves in glory, and while her partner redeemed himself, her father was one of the most selfish, unfeeling characters I’ve met in a while – I’d have been cheering that he was leaving to live in New York, packing his bags and pushing him on the plane!
Her daughters were two very different characters Lowrie was bright, bubbly, positive and well-rounded, while Bethan left me in two minds. On the one hand very motivated and positive with the way she coped with her deafness and didn’t let it be a hindrance, but on the other very childlike and quite selfish, though I guess that was also largely due to being cosseted and indulged by Catrin.
The number of threads that run through the book, gave it an added complexity that will strike different chords with different readers, but the nature of family dynamics and motherhood were primary themes, followed by adoption and deafness. It was a dramatic, and ultimately cathartic, uncovering of family secrets and lies, that opened up the way for hope and optimism. For anyone who likes family dramas, with a small town setting, this one should hit all the right buttons.
I always love to learn a little about history, and Mary combines compelling storylines, with factual accounts of history.
Don't think about reading this book. DO IT! You'll love it.
A fantastic book and I am looking forward to the next one!
I throughly enjoyed the book. I look forward to Marys next offering.