Book review: The Secret She Kept by Amelia Carr

Author Amelia Carr doesn’t do things by halves so when she set sail on her latest novel, she literally took to the open seas.

The Secret She Kept, a double-layered romantic saga which stretches back over 30 years, is centred on the Cornish sailing community so Carr climbed aboard a tall ship to make herself ‘seaworthy’ for her voyage of discovery.

And, as always, she plumbs a rich vein of romance, mystery and drama in this engrossing story about a young and fearless woman who disappeared in the 1950s whilst sailing off the Cornish coast but who is now reported to be alive and well in America.

Hidden events, past friendships, powerful passions and former love affairs return to haunt the present and create an emotional framework for a novel of secrets, lies ... and revelations.

In 1959, 25-year-old Felicity (Fliss) Penrose thrives on adventure. A fun-loving, feisty young woman, she seems to have an enviable life. She is married to local businessman Martin Dunning, has a beautiful two-year-old daughter Emma and is one of the most experienced female sailors in the world.

But after a routine sailing trip near her home town of Porthowan, her boat is found abandoned and Fliss has mysteriously vanished. Although her body is never found, Fliss is presumed to be dead.

In 1989, Fliss’s sister Maggie has been married to Martin for over 20 years and sports teacher Emma, now aged 32, is a sailing fanatic like her long-lost mother.

But her world is rocked when she is approached by freelance journalist Mike Bond who is investigating the disappearance of her mother. He tells her that shortly after Fliss was presumed drowned she was seen in Florida by someone who knew her.

Just as unsettling is Maggie’s reaction to the news that her sister might have faked her own death. Far from being shocked, Maggie openly accepts that there might just be some truth in the claims that Fliss is still alive. Has she been harbouring her own suspicions for 30 years or has she something to hide?


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Aided by the disconcertingly attractive Mike, Emma delves into her mother’s past and begins to unravel a tale of deep, abiding love and promises forgotten. And soon the turmoil is overtaking the rest of her family because Fliss is not the only one with secrets long-concealed...

Carr is on the crest of a wave in this compelling story which weaves between two very different worlds... the moral rectitude of the 1950s and the more open, free-thinking 1980s.

Perfect for romantics of every age!

(Headline Review, paperback, £7.99)