Hall of Secrets
The second in Campbell’s Benedict Hall series, Hall of Secrets picks up a few months after the dramatic closing events of the first volume (Benedict Hall), in 1920s Seattle. Dr. Margot Preston is rebuilding her medical practice after her brother Preston burned down the building; at the same time, she’s building her relationship with Frank Parrish, who, thanks to his new prosthetic arm, is now a successful engineer at Boeing. The Benedict family is still recovering from Preston’s death in the fire, and the response of Margot’s mother, Edith, indicates some mental health issues lay behind her vacant stare and her insistence that his room remain untouched. Margot is trying to move forward, though there are many bumps in the road, both professional and personal, for a female physician with progressive ideas about issues such as birth control, segregation, and racial and economic discrimination.
While the main focus is on Margot, other members of the Benedict family have their own story lines in this volume, as well. From Hattie, the not-very-good cook, to cousin Allison, the 19-year-old debutante who disgraced her family during her Grand Tour of Europe, readers begin to see the depths of the Benedict family dynamic. Campbell deftly uses the counterpoint characters to approach both the topical as well as the more emotional sticky issues that affected families in the post-World War I era. From birth to death to rebirth, there is an abundance of life in this family, and it is clear that Campbell has plans for the members of this family to grow and discover their strengths in future volumes.