Her Mother’s Secret

Written by Catherine King

Catherine King is a superb historical novelist of family, female emotion, and secrets, and her ninth novel, Her Mother’s Secret, portrays her artistry to full effect. In 1885, young Ruth Hargreaves is becoming a lady. With an ambitious father, and a complicit mother, employed by a lord who wants Ruth as his mistress, her life is set for ruin. Twenty years later, 19-year-old Letty Hargreaves wants more from life than the sheltered one her gran has given her. She longs for independence and love, and indeed, she has little trouble in attracting male attention, wanted or not, to the point where both emotional and practical complications abound. But there are hidden elements to her life that she longs to discover. In seeking the truth over her parentage, and in trying to choose a life for herself, the danger is that she will unearth the secrets her gran has taken great pains to hide from her all her life.

This is a most enjoyable, well-written book, with a strong focus on the ‘human’ element. The protagonists’ motivations and emotions are integral to the plot and move it onward with some force. The crafted and the characterised strengths of the characters, in my opinion, make this story an excellent one. The author has really done her research into the turn-of-the-century Yorkshire Ridings and the country houses which inspired her fictional creations here, and it gives an added depth to the plot and an interesting dimension of social history to the story.

Anyone who has read Catherine King’s other novels will want to read this fascinating tale of family secrets. Likewise, I would also recommend this book to those who enjoy strong female characters who work both within and without accepted patriarchal convention. A very enjoyable read!