Relative Secrets

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 01 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 25 Mar 2021

Talking about this book? Use #RelativeSecrets #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Mary has a secret that she mustn’t tell. But in a care home, with her mind wandering, she’s starting to slip up. Clearing out her grandmother’s old room, Lucy finds something hidden that wasn’t supposed to be found – a locket sheltering a shameful family secret.

She can’t tell her mother. Not with their father gone, one brother absent and another acting up. Her mother was struggling with her mental health just a few years ago. Lucy will have to make sense of it all herself.

In a beautifully told drama of family secrets, Helen Stancey once again picks through the everyday of life to uncover poetry, pain and ultimately love.

Mary has a secret that she mustn’t tell. But in a care home, with her mind wandering, she’s starting to slip up. Clearing out her grandmother’s old room, Lucy finds something hidden that wasn’t...

Advance Praise

'A tender, and uplifting exploration of the mysteries and meaning of family, for three generations of women striving to fulfil their destinies.' —Rebecca Fraser, author and journalist.

'Relative Secrets is a beautifully observed exploration of the power and pain of family secrets, both past and present. Concealed truths surround each family like a web, but, once discovered, are they better revealed or kept hidden?' —Emma Timpany, author of Travelling in the Dark.

'In this gripping saga of family secrets, Helen displays the storyteller’s gift of creating lively, sympathetic characters, and a plot that flows with a well-crafted rightness and inevitability.' —Fiona Vigo Marshall, author of Find Me Falling.

'A tender, and uplifting exploration of the mysteries and meaning of family, for three generations of women striving to fulfil their destinies.' —Rebecca Fraser, author and journalist.


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781912054862
PRICE $15.95 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 61 members

Featured Reviews

What a different and compelling book! The writing is beautiful and insightful with many clever life observations and original quotes. It is written from differing perspectives, one of which at first seemed odd but soon made a lot of sense. Brilliant.

Lucy is a young woman living at home with her weary mother and intuitive younger brother. Her father is no longer a true part of their lives. Her beloved grandmother, Mary, has recently moved to a nursing home. When clearing out Mary's drawers, Lucy makes an astonishing discovery which leads her to genealogical research. She just cannot believe what she sees so takes it upon herself to embark on her project to find proof of deep secrets. Her forays take her to visit with several people who may or may not have further useful information. She is lead down unexpected rabbit holes, breathtaking rabbit holes.

Mary is losing her faculties and her obsessive behaviour and mutterings appear confusing. Her gruff roommate also has mental health issues. Ageing is well portrayed, as sad as it can be in an institution. The plot is well thought out, as are the subplots. In the midst of sadness and heartache there is also hope. Love the clever title!

Looking for your next unique read? Pick this up. It's well worth your time, perfect for readers who enjoy twists.

My sincere thank you to Fairlight Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this enthralling book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated.

Was this review helpful?

This book is exactly it says it is.. It tells the story of three generations within one family as various secrets are unravelled and revealed..It also highlights how things have changed over the years and the story is told from three main characters perspectives - the gran, the mum and the daughter. Very good at keeping you guessing what is true. The author writes from the grans perspective is a very clever way as she suffers from dementia and the writing reflects the confusion this creates. Overall, a good book with believable characters and storyline that keeps you wondering throughout.

Was this review helpful?

This book was fascinating to read! I do admit that it had a very slow start in the beginning but it quickly picked up pace once the locket was found. I also really enjoyed how Marys memories were portrayed, Instead of there being a here section and a then section. The memories start as a jumble that gradually becomes more and more clear as you read. Some people may not enjoy the book because of that. It does feel like the type o story that you have to read twice to fully enjoy. #RelativeSecrets #NetGalley

Was this review helpful?

This is a unique and well-thought out book, with intriguing secrets and realistic characters.

Lucy's grandmother, Mary, has just moved into a care home because Lucy, her weary mother Beth, and her younger brother Daniel, can no longer look after her. After keeping secrets for a lifetime, Mary's mind is no longer the locked vault it used to be, and things are slipping out whilst her mind is in the past. Whilst clearing out her grandmother's house Lucy finds a locket and a few pictures locked away in a chest, which Lucy realises are hiding a terrible family secret. Lucy was supposed to au pair in France on her gap year, but gave it up to help look after her Grandmother. With Mary now being cared for in the home, she resolves to use her time to solve the mystery - but all may not be what it seems. Meanwhile, her and Daniel's estranged dad keeps popping back up, and he is hiding secrets of his own.

This is a story of secrets, love, and family.

I read this book in a day, and I did not want to put it down. Woven throughout the story are insights into the family's daily life, Mary's past, and the thoughts of the two teenagers, Daniel and Lucy. I really appreciated how the two of them were portrayed - they weren't the stereotypical dramatic and moody or selfish teenagers that so often appear in books. They were caring, thoughtful, a little moody,and a product of their early experiences.

The chapters from Mary’s perspective were beautifully done, beginning in the past and then becoming more jumbled and confused as they transitioned to the present and her struggle with dementia.

This book left me with questions about the future of the characters and what happened following some of the events in this book - but it was done in a way that worked, and wasn't super infuriating. That said, I still want to know! I would love to read a sequel or short story that carried on past the book just for my own curiosity!

(Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review)

Was this review helpful?

It's 1999, and Beth and her children are an ordinary family living an ordinary life - which hides an extraordinary secret! When her teenage daughter Lucy discovers old sketches when clearing out her grandmother Mary's home, she suspects there's a shocking story to be told behind her grandma and grandpa's marriage. But Mary, in her care home, is no longer capable of communicating the facts, so Beth begins her own investigation.
Set against the backdrop of family life - Beth's ex-husband Tony flits in and out, disrupting their equilibrium, and hiding a secret of his own - the plot moves slowly, but keeps the reader engaged as the truth gradually unfolds.
The characters are empathetic - Beth's a typical mum, dealing with all the challenges of the sandwich generation while her two younger children, Beth and Daniel, are engaging and natural, and typical teenagers of the 1990s when smartphones hadn't been invented and you had to rely on your own wits to find things out.
But it's Mary who makes the story! The narrative gives a thoughtful and engaging insight into a mind muddled by dementia. Mary communicates in her own way but sadly her loved ones just don't understand what she is trying to tell them.
I felt the writing was padded at times and there was a little too much introspection from Beth and from Lucy, which slowed the plot without adding much to the story. But overall this was a gentle and thought-provoking read exploring the challenges of family life and reminding us that in the end, love will always win through.

Was this review helpful?

Set mostly in 1999 with flashbacks to earlier times. Lucy’s grandmother Mary has dementia and is in a care home. Mary has a secret and often rambles on about earlier times. While sorting in out her grandmother’s belongings Lucy finds a locket with an old photo hidden in a drawer and other items and photographs in Mary’s house. Lucy sets out to discover who the people are in the photographs.
I loved the way Lucy uses the snippets of information she hears from her grandmother and the items and photographs in her grandmother’s house to find out what her grandmother’s secret is.
This was about family relationships and secrets.

Was this review helpful?

A lovely story about a young girl trying to find out about her family history after finding out some information that makes her question everything she had ever believed. Well written and keeps a nice pace throughout. A nice, light read.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: