“When Anna, Lizzie Thorne’s charismatic sister, is killed in a tragic fall from the roof of her school, her family is plunged into shock and despair. One year on and grief still has a suffocating hold on them. Her mother, Kate, consumed by loss and desperate to find someone to blame for Anna’s death, retreats from her family, locking herself away to paint Anna’s portrait for hours on end. Jon, her father, is doing his best to care for his loved ones but the pressure of trying to stop his marriage collapsing is pushing him to breaking point. And amid her parents’ turmoil Lizzie just wants to grow up and leave her sister’s ghost in the past. But then a devastating revelation rocks her parents further still and raises questions concerning what really happened the night Anna died. While Kate and Jon grapple with their dead daughter’s secrets, Lizzie throws herself into a passionate but forbidden love affair that frees her from the heartache all around her – but also threatens to tear her family apart…”
When I started Sworn Secret, my first thought was that it was long for a novel. I was worried that this meant that the novel may lose pace or focus in some places, but my doubts were unfounded; Amanda Jennings carefully and slowly draws the intricate plot lines of the story out. At the beginning of the novel, we see a young girl, Anna, fall off a building to her death. Or was she pushed…? Sworn Secret details her family’s pursuit to discover the truth behind the tragic event. Anna has left behind the devastated remains of her family; her sister Lizzie, who is being torn up by grief and her parents Jon and Kate who are becoming more and more distant.
As the Thornes struggle through their grief, secrets start coming to the surface. Like the affair between Anna and the schoolgirl’s headmaster… Sworn Secret takes us through Jon and Kate’s pain and their weakening marriage, the sad side story of Jon’s father’s dementia and his mother’s difficulty in coping with it, and Lizzie falling in love with Stephen Howe’s son, Hadyn. But their blossoming relationship is ruined when her parents find out about Anna and Stephen’s illicit relationship and everything starts to implode. The Thornes’ lives, which were so perfect once upon a time, crumble further…
Sworn Secret is an intricate, detailed novel that spins out Anna’s story and the difficulties her family face after her untimely passing. Over the course of nearly 400 pages, the tale is spun out delicately and cleverly, building to a careful and mysterious climax. A gripping and terrific read.
Many thanks to Constable & Robinson for the review copy.