Summer of Secrets

Written by Nikola Scott
Review by Sallie Anderson

Given the opportunity, I’ll choose a book with the word ‘secret’ in the title. We all love secrets. We try to keep them to ourselves and yet, we’re desperately curious about other people’s secrets. Nikola Scott’s Summer of Secrets doesn’t disappoint. On the eve of the Second World War, orphaned teenager Maddy spends her days sketching on a rambling Cornwall estate. Her beloved sister returns from a trip abroad with glamourous friends and a handsome but increasingly sinister boyfriend. On the same day, a RAF plane crashes during a training flight over the coast. A pilot goes missing, presumed dead.

The story is then brought forward to the present to introduce Chloe, a talented photographer with a secret, who finds herself married to a man who isn’t all that he seems. Chloe meets Maddy, an old woman now, for a photography shoot. Their individual stories are developed in a beautifully written dual narrative, culminating in a dramatic climax. Maddy’s storyline from her life in 1939 comes alive with detail, perhaps more so than Chloe’s contemporary one. However, the parallel storylines work well to entice the reader to turn the page, eager to unravel the threads of each secret.

Scott deftly leads the reader through emotionally charged scenes, never becoming melodramatic. She addresses the issue of domestic abuse, specifically coercive control, with skill and sensitivity. At its heart, though, the story is one of love. Love between siblings, love between parents and children, love between men and women that endures through difficult times. The secret’s out – this novel is a good read.