Book review: The Secrets of Primrose Square by Claudia Carroll
Tucked away in a corner of Dublin is leafy, lovely Primrose Square, an oasis of tranquillity in the busy, bustling city.
But behind closed doors, there is heartbreaking anguish, hidden dramas, a burning desire for vengeance, and secrets with the potential to change the course of people’s lives. Can love and friendship heal the pain of these lost souls?
Irish writer Claudia Carroll, author of fourteen fresh and funny novels, and a star of the Dublin-based TV soap opera Fair City, takes us on another of her trademark emotional rollercoasters in a story that will make readers both laugh and cry.
When aspiring theatre director 32-year-old Nancy Thompson moves to Ireland from her job at the National Theatre in London, she brings with her a painful secret. Working on a new production at a Dublin theatre will give her the space and time she needs, but she fears she may well and truly have ‘burned her bridges.’
When she rents a flat in pretty Primrose Square, she feels that she might have turned a corner and that this move could be the fresh start she is looking for. But Nancy soon discovers that her neighbours are also going through their own dramas and there are things about her absent landlord, Sam Williams, that don’t quite add up.
Meanwhile, on a night when the rain is pouring down on Dublin’s streets, desperate mother Susan Hayes from Primrose Square is grieving for her dead 17-year-old daughter Ella and stands silently outside the house of the teenage boy she believes is responsible.
Back at home, Susan’s other daughter, 12-year-old Melissa, waits anxiously for her mum to come back. Melissa, who is ‘good at pretending’ and is desperately trying to keep up some semblance of normality, knows exactly where her mother is, but is also aware that she cannot reach her.
And few doors down Primrose Square, widow Jayne Dawson sits alone in her room. Jayne is lonely and her neighbours are often the only company she can enjoy. But tonight, Jayne has delivered a bombshell announcement to her son and his wife, and now her life is about to change for ever.
Primrose Square, with its Victorian warmth and charm, has been described as having ‘healing properties’ but can it work its magic on the troubled residents?
An entertaining cast of characters, serious social topics and a fine line in Irish wit have regularly won Carroll a place in the bestsellers lists, and the genuine affection of her army of adoring readers who cannot help but be seduced by her warm-hearted way of seeing the world.
The pages of this new, very human story teem with characters we can all recognise as they experience some of real life’s most emotive and painful issues. But there is also love, hope, friendship, humour and a fascinating glimpse into the world of the theatre.
Clever, compelling and wise, this is a summer novel to cherish…
(Zaffre, hardback, £12.99)