Title: Truths I Never Told You
Author: Kelly Rimmer
Published: February 25th 2020
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 5 stars
It begins with the discovery of a tattered letter in the attic … A heart-tugging story of family secrets by the Top 10 bestselling Australian author
1959: Grace is a young mother with four children under four. All she ever wanted was to have a family of her own, but there are thoughts Grace cannot share with anyone in the months after childbirth. Instead she pours her deepest fears into the pages of a notebook, hiding them where she knows husband Patrick will never look. When Grace falls pregnant again, she turns to her sister, Maryanne, for help.
1996: When Beth‘s father, Patrick, is diagnosed with dementia, she and her siblings make the heart-wrenching decision to put him into care. As Beth is clearing the family home, she discovers a series of notes. Patrick’s children grew up believing their mother died in a car accident, but these notes suggest something much darker may be true.
I am not surprised that Kelly Rimmer is a top 10 bestselling author. Not only have I loved each and every one of the three books I have read by Rimmer, I have found much to appreciate about the themes she raises within her compelling stories. Truths I Never Told You, her latest release, is a book that I predict will resonate with a wide audience range. It is an emotional and insightful story, which brings family relationships, long held secrets, a troubled past and mental illness to the hands of readers.
Truths I Never Told You begins its tumultuous story with the unearthing of a letter in the attic of a family dealing with the illness of their father to heart disease and dementia. This letter acts a pivotal device, thrusting the reader back in time to the year 1959, where a young mother name Grace is struggling to care for her expanding brood of children. Although Grace knew she wanted marriage and motherhood, she didn’t bank on feeling so overwhelmed. Grace also has bad thoughts about ending her life and leaving her family – for good. To help her deal with these troubling inner thoughts, Grace channels these powerful emotions in a notebook, which she keeps hidden. Grace hopes these thoughts will never come into contact with anyone, especially her husband Patrick. However, Grace is struck down once again by these debilitating thoughts when she discovers she is pregnant once more. In an act of sheer desperation, Grace asks her sister Maryanne for help, but the results are life changing for all concerned. Running concurrently with Grace’s life in 1959 is the story of Beth, a new mother who is also dealing with the care of her ageing father. Beth is troubled by the recent decision her family has faced, which has resulted in moving her father from the family home, to a care facility. While cleaning the family home, Beth comes across a cache of notes, which alters Beth’s impression of her childhood, leaving not only Beth reeling, but the whole family.
I just knew that Kelly Rimmer was going to bowl me over yet again with her new release, Truths I Never Told You. Kelly Rimmer has made quite a name for herself in the domestic fiction field, she is successfully able to interrogate issues at the heart of families, relationships, siblings, parenthood and motherhood in her writing. This latest release is no exception, it definitely astonished me.
Motherhood and family relationships are always tricky themes to interrogate. Kelly Rimmer approaches this slippery slope of human emotions and drama with an honest, raw and insightful set piece. I was immediately pulled into the troubles and realistic situations faced by Grace, a mother of three in the past and Beth, a new mother in the mid-1990s. Personal entries logged into a notebook by Grace in the past thread, which is inserted within the main text, enables the audience to better grasp Grace’s predicament. Although it seems as though these women are separated by a big time span (around 40 years) the problems they are both confronting do mirror each other. Rimmer’s double edged narrative, with navigates the years 1959 and 1996 concurrently, compliments one another. The narrative as whole is very fluid and there were no holes in the plot to overcome. This is always quite a feat for writers of dual time period novels, but Kelly Rimmer achieves success with her latest.
Rimmer’s character set are utterly beguiling. I found I was able to make a connection with each of them. I am confident that readers will be able to relate to the protagonists that feature in both time zones. I am also very sure that both mothers and non-parents will be able to draw a great deal of understanding from the themes and experiences presented within the book. Thematically, Rimmer covers significant ground, but her approach is mindful, respectful and educative. Within the modern narrative, Rimmer explores mental illness, family connections, sibling relations, motherhood, parenthood, postpartum depression, medication, choice, ageing , different manifestations of dementia and guilt. This is a tough list, but I promise you, Rimmer’s treatment of these issues is insightful. The past narrative thread moved me to tears. This aspect of the story is told with such power and foresight. It helped to elevate this novel to great heights for me. With a solid examination of marriage, motherhood, relationships, depression, mental illness, childcare, family relations, lack of medical care, religion and morality, there is much to draw from this astonishing story. Personally, I was struck by the sheer lack of choices for women at this time, their inability to make informed decisions about their sexual practices, birth control, independence, employment and the expectations placed on them to remains homemakers in the era depicted in the novel. What an eye opening, but on point recreation of this point in time.
The mystery of the notebook from the attic, which directly links to the past and Beth’s family is what drives this novel in a forward motion. I was compelled to read Truths I Never Told You in just two sittings, as I was implored to seek out the truth as to the contents of the letters and the implication this had for the offspring in the present day. Rimmer definitely had me at her complete mercy in regards to this aspect of the book. I did predict a different scenario for the final turn of events in the past narrative, but I was more than satisfied by Rimmer’s conclusion.
Kelly Rimmer’s Truths I Never Told You offers a heartbreaking cross examination into the human condition, highlighting issues that strike at the core of family units, with particular emphasis on motherhood and marriage. This novel will be a great choice for book clubs, as there is plenty to discuss. I hope it raises awareness of mental illness, postpartum depression, dementia and greater support for mothers.
Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer is published by Hachette Australia on February 25th 2020. $29.99.
To learn more about the author of Truths I Never Told You, Kelly Rimmer, visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Truths I Never Told You is book #23 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge