Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? is about three very different people, each with a secret, whose lives collide in unexpected ways.
Steph is a harrassed mum who’s considering an affair with her children’s sexy headmaster. Penny is trying to deal with a crush on her boss, OCD and a sad secret from her childhood. And Mike is a vicar who is being blackmailed for his secret, although it’s not all that it seems!
Meanwhile, all three are being watched over by their own guardian angels, who try to push them in the right direction and help move their lives along – but not always successfully…
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This debut novel by Sue Shepherd is great and I actually emailed her to say congratulations and how much I enjoyed it. I was praising this book to a lot of my family and am still recommending it to my friends. Its twists and the interaction between the characters and how their lives interlink are interesting and show how small a world we live in.
The book revolves around a few characters from a town that have interesting stories that in some way overlap each other in different ways. Then there are the angels that are present in their lives. If you know my style of reviewing you know that I don’t give away too much of the story and spoil it for others. So sorry if you find that I am not telling you what happened but there are so many little stories that are in this book and telling any part in detail would ruin the reading.
Steph is mum of two, Sophie (11) and Jamie (7) and married to John she feels she is insignificant and not appreciated by her family. She often day dreams about being approached by a dark handsome stranger and being whisked off to exotic climates and living a completely different life. Suddenly the new charming head teacher Gareth Churchill is paying her a lot of attention and she finds that she likes this and starts to imagine a life away from John with Gareth. He offers her the escape that she thinks she wants. Sue’s description of Gareth is different and I love the way she describes him; “He seemed to just ooze charm somehow. And his voice reminded her of chocolate, the smooth, expensive kind”.
The Reverend Mike Bannerman married to Jane but is spending a lot of time with the new woman, Maggie, in the village. They spend time watching DVD's and drinking Ovaltine whilst Jane is at different meetings. They chat for ages about their life growing up and are at ease in each other’s company. Jane is unaware of the time that they spend together but Mike knows that “sooner or later he was going to have to confess to Jane”. He does spend time with his other parishioners and is always trying to think of how he can help them. He is determined to try and help Bert after the death of his wife and to spend more time in his company. Mike also spends a lot of time at his mum’s, who is a widow, and for the next few weeks will be responsible for looking after her beloved plants whilst she visits Aunt Caroline’s.
Penny Littleton is a shy woman who suffers from compulsive disorder of counting things, cleaning things or checking things around her house and her work place. She is the PA and secretly in love with Mr Clarke and often insists on touching his bald head for luck. It made me giggle imagining her doing it in front of the Prime Minister and when he was on TV. Eventually Mr Clarke is unnerved by her problems and insists she spends time off trying to solve these problems.
Penny’s story is linked with the house where Steph and John currently live and things come to a head when she meets Steph and faces her demons.
These are the main living characters but the excitement starts when you realise that angels are involved in watching and trying to guide them in their decisions and actions. They may just be there as a presence to show support or there to protect and encourage. They can whisper things and protect them if need be. Through the story they do this in many different ways.
The main angels are; Aldo who is a fantastic angel who a lot of the younger angels tend to adore. Angela is a conscientious angel and is great friends with Aldo. Archibald is an old angel that often falls asleep on the job. He likes to have a drink and sometimes overlooks his job for a quick pint or forty winks.
I love the way that the angels behave and how you hear the story from both the angels and the characters point of view. The angels have such a strong influence and I often found myself wondering about the presence of them in my life. I like the idea that you don’t have one guardian angel but different ones and how these all have their own different qualities. I also like how the angels are not whiter than white but have been known to bend the rules to try and do what is best for the people they are watching.
This book is great and in fact am going to buy a paperback copy to keep on my shelf. This is a must read for many of my book friends and family. I have enjoyed discussing the contents and theories that come up in this book and debating them with my husband with eagerness. I often think there is someone telling you in the background to so something and think this happened when my daughter fainted and split her head.