Sunday 12 January 2020

Book Review: Cassandra's Secret by Frances Garrood

Cassandra's Secret
Frances Garrood

Publisher: Sapere Books 
Publication date: 10th May 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 319
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

1960s England

Cassandra Fitzpatrick’s family isn’t quite like everybody else’s: her house is always full to bursting with the various misfits her mother houses as lodgers.

The creative and chaotic household is all she has ever known and loved, until something awful happens that changes everything.

Cass loves her mother deeply, but, as she gets older, she becomes more and more aware of her flaws.

Will Cass have to distance herself from her family to find happiness? Or is she destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps?

As Cass reflects on her memories, she must lay the ghosts of the past to rest and make peace with the secrets that have haunted her adult life…  

Cassandra’s Secret is story of an unconventional family. Cass and her brother Lucas are raised by their single mother with an array of misfits and drifters coming into and out of their house. There was Uncle Rupert who lived in the attic, a procession of lodgers who rented the basement and were simply called The Lodger and Greta, an exile from Switzerland, who had become chief tea maker for the family.

Told in the first person Cass sits by her mother’s death bed and contemplates her life, introducing the reader to her eclectic mother who had a love for men and a good party. Cass and her brother grew up with relatively no rules, just a love for life and adventure. An incident when Cass was 14 has left her more damaged than she realised.

This was quite an interesting story about the free and easy upbringing Cass and Lucas had. Cass’s mum seemed to have bipolar, her highs  were high and her lowes were low and at times Cass had to become the parent.
Garrood shows how over the years an incident of abuse had a dramatic effect on Cass’s life. There is quite a bit of humour in the story and even if Cass didn’t always agree with her mother’s actions they had a strong bond and she looked back over the years fondly.

Cassandra’s Secret was a pleasant read, all the characters were likeable and with themes of death, promiscuity, single parenthood, abuse and depression the topics are only lightly touched on so it never becomes a heavy read. 


My rating  4/5

  Frances Garrood's main career was nursing, but she also trained and worked for many years as a relationship counsellor with Relate. Widowed in 1992, she re-married and now lives with her husband in Wiltshire, where she enjoys riding her horse in the beautiful Pewsey Vale, reading, writing, and keeping up with her grandchildren. She also writes regularly to a prisoner on Texas Death Row.

Frances first started writing as a child; mainly poetry, but there was one horrific novel (mercifully, never finished) in which a woman gives birth to a hideously deformed child in a thunderstorm. While she was bringing up her four children, she began writing and selling short stories to magazines before the enforced immobility following a fractured spine gave her the time to tackle her first novel.

All her books are very strongly relationship-based. Her writing has also been affected by her widowhood, and her books sometimes include issues of death and bereavement. Strangely (and not by design) they all seem to include pet animal funerals (not a subject which
normally occupies my mind!)


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