Secrets From A Happy Marriage
May 12th, 2020
Secrets From A Happy Marriage, by Maisey Yates, is her latest book, in a new genre, but maintaining the same great story writing. This first women’s fiction novel has a mystery, some history, some romance, and a lot of family interaction. It delves into the relationships between mothers-daughters, and sisters-sisters, where forgiveness, hope, love, acceptance, and starting over are important themes.
The story opens with mail order bride, Jenny Hansen, writing a letter in response to an ad from the Chief Lighthouse keeper, Olaf Hansen, at the Cape Hope Lighthouse on the Oregon coast. Readers will get to know her through letters and find a connection with the current occupants of the Cape Hope Lighthouse Inn: a grandmother, Wendy, her two adult daughters, Rachel and Anna, and Rachel’s teenage daughter, Emma. They manage the lighthouse’s bed and breakfast.
Yates noted, “I see it as a character. I remember looking at this lighthouse up on a hill with a beach below. Since it is now a bed and breakfast I decided to go there. I took notes. They showed me the Inn and told me about the history. It was almost like going through the lives of this house since it has such a rich history. The story could not have been told if it was set in another place and I could not have told the story if I had not visited it. I love the idea we are connected through history and how the history of this house contained generations of people.”
Each of these four women are keeping secrets, having their own issues, problems, and grief. Wendy is a single parent of two daughters. Many years ago, when her daughters were young, in a tiny little Oregon town, she won a contest to fix up the Lighthouse and turn it into an inn. Now decades later, they still run the place. She’s done things she’s not proud of, things she desperately wants to keep from her girls, yet keeping quiet is now not an option.
“Wendy closed herself off to protect herself from her past that included a toxic affair. Wendy passed on her own issues to her daughters. Because she wanted and never was able to become safe and happy, Wendy put pressure on her daughters to marry, thinking that would make them safe.”
Rachel has been married to her high school sweetheart, the love of her life for over twenty years. She never really dated since they became married at a young age. But Jacob has been slowly dying from a variety of illnesses leaving Rachel to become his caregiver. Yet, through all the hardships they still maintain a true love. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his illness leaving Rachel to ponder what will become of her life. She feels her family is falling apart, losing Jacob to death, and her daughter Emma to college.
“I think I am most like her. She was married from an early age just like me. We both never really dated and just had our husbands. Rachel is complicated, not perfect, and a typical older sister. She must make a new life for herself considering her husband has died and her daughter is leaving to go to college.”
Emma realizes that her beloved father won’t be at her high school graduation or even there for her 18th birthday. She realizes it is possible to have a relationship with someone she has had a crush on, 21-year-old car mechanic and high school dropout, Luke. Emma must also decide if she wants to go across the country to her dream college that has a great Marine Biology program. Besides dealing with grief over losing her father she wonders what her choice of college will do to her relationship with Luke and how will her mother handle not having her around.
“Emma lost her father, which put a freeze on childhood. I consider her an old-soul. Writing teenagers scares me. I wanted to show that her friends did not know what to do when she was sad. I spoke with people who handled grief over the years. Someone told me they lost a parent as a teenager, and gave me a lot of insight on what it was like to lose a parent at that age. I was so uncomfortable writing Emma’s love scene since I consider myself a prude. I think she was very protective of her mom, but more like her Aunt Anna.”
Anna is Rachel’s sister, the one with the supposed picture-perfect marriage. The popular pastor in town, Thomas, has been her husband for more than 15 years, yet she has felt him pulling away from her and becoming ever more distant as time has passed. Anna has tried to speak with him, but with no response. Feeling unloved and ignored she makes a shocking and life-changing decision that affects everyone around her.
“She has choices and options to figure out who she is. Anna did not need a man to make a life for herself. Throughout the story she comes into her own. Overall, she is determined, a bit disconnected, strong, and resilient.”
People will question what they would have done under similar circumstances. The plot is very realistic and the characters come to life. A range of emotions from sad to happy will be experienced by readers because of the deeply emotional, thoughtful, and heartfelt story.