Book Review: Little White Secrets

“They say normal people tell a white lie three times a day. Lately, I feel like I’m exceeding my limit.”

This is my Amazon First Reads selection for April 2020. You can get a free book every month by joining Amazon Prime, which you can do with a free trial here.

Set to be released next month, Carol Mason‘s Little White Secrets follows Emily Rossi, whose life appears perfect on first appearances. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children, tennis superstar Daniel and the quiet Zara. But if you were to look more closely, you’d see a daughter pushing the limits, a marriage ready to crack, and a secret that can break them. When Zara brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control. And just when she needs her husband to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again. Soon enough, a dark secret from the past emerges, as Emily’s life is turned upside down as she struggles to protect the people she loves.

Rating:

Little White Secrets is an easily readable and well-developed domestic drama with a bit of a twist. The story opens up well as it begins with a staged photograph of the family for a newspaper article, showing the appearance of a perfect family. But the cracks in Emily’s life are slowly unravelled, as you become eager to find out where it all went so wrong.

We know from the beginning that Eric has a secret, but whilst I guessed early on what that was, Mason often convinced me that I had got it wrong. She plots her story well, and the tension builds successfully until everything is finally laid out bare.

Although I enjoyed Mason’s writing, I struggled to connect with her characters. I didn’t particularly like Emily because she was at a point in her life when she was very fed up, and that oozed through her narrative. But Mason voices her characters well. Emily still felt genuine, and I always understood and agreed with her actions and feelings despite not feeling much compassion for her.

Mason really seems to understand Emily’s emotions and the situation regarding her married life was explored really well. It’s not often you would encourage a character in Emily’s situation to do what she does, both against her family (regarding Steve) and for them (regarding Bethany), but you want Emily to stand up for her family as well as to do something for herself and find happiness at the end of it all.

You can buy the book here

However, it wasn’t the fight to save her marriage that I thought it was going to be. Emily would do anything for her children, that was obvious, but she wasn’t willing to fight for Eric anymore. She had given up by this point, and there was no love left. I don’t blame her for that because Eric’s actions are inexcusable and I thought from the beginning that she deserved better than him, but this just meant that it didn’t have the sense of undying love that I expected it to have. It’s more realistic than that, and whilst there may be some kind of happily ever after, this definitely wasn’t a fairytale.

Whilst there’s a lot that I could identify with, I still felt very disengaged with all of the characters which prevented me from loving this book. I think the problem was that I sympathised with the daughter more than the mother, so I was looking at the situation as my 14-year-old self rather than in any maternal way. Although Emily’s actions speak loud enough towards the end, I didn’t always agree with her actions beforehand and was pleading with her to see things from Zara’s point of view more often and to be more sympathetic.

Overall, Mason details a number of personal struggles with a brilliant approach, creating very honest and real characters with relatable issues. It could have been rounded up more quickly at the end, but the rest of the book makes for a very intriguing read.

This is Mason’s sixth novel and I’m certainly interested in reading more from her after reading this.

This is my Amazon First Reads selection for April 2020. You can get a free book every month by joining Amazon Prime, which you can do with a free trial here.

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About Charlie Morris

Proofreader and film blogger living in Cornwall.

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