Hidden – Catherine McKenzie

Some secrets should stay hidden

Hidden Cover

“This is going to sound strange, but … do you wish you could do your life over again?”

“Everyone wishes that sometimes.”

“I mean really actually do it, start again. See if you can get it right the second time around.”

I have been meaning to read Catherine Mackenzie‘s work for some time, I was intrigued by the premise of Arranged, a work about a woman who mistakenly employs an agency specializing in arranged marriages. But it was Hidden demanded that I read it sooner rather than later and somehow it ended up among my purchases when I was doing my Christmas shopping, honestly I have no idea how it got there. It was the Buy Three Get the Fourth Free promotion so really I barely need to justify it. Regardless of my book buying compulsions Hidden is a powerful story that I read in a single day concluding the novel with my heart in my throat and burning eyes.

When a married man suffers a sudden fatal accident, two women are shattered—his wife and someone else’s—and past secrets, desires and regrets are brought to light

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother—her ex-boyfriend—Tim.

HiddenHidden is densely layered novel with each character vying for your sympathies. It is an exploration of love, not only between husbands and wives but between parent and child and even between siblings. Told from alternating points of view the reader comes to know Jeff Manning, his wife Claire and Tish Underwood intimately. Much like Tracey Garvis Graves’ Covet but with a realism missing from the former Hidden focuses largely on the emotional affair between Jeff and his coworker Tish.

Covet, for me, was in many ways a “lunch bag letdown” there was this huge buildup and then no follow through just a conclusion that was so neat and tidy it was patently unbelievable. In comparison the tension builds and builds in Hidden despite the readers knowledge of how it ends which is an illustration of this author’s expert storytelling ability.

Throughout the story and upon its conclusion the question circling the readers mind is “how bad is an emotional affair?” Like all things I would say that the answer is subjective depending on your own moral compass. What I found particularly impressive about this story was the directness of the characters and their actions. There was no coy evasions regarding intercourse literally or subjectively, Catherine Mackenzie has masterfully portrayed her characters with realism and sensitivity.

AUTHOR: Catherine Mackenzie

RATING: 4 1/2 Stars

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

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