Review published on July 17, 2017.
Rachel Crowther is being likened to Joanna Trollope and I think I can see why. Her work is what I would call literary fiction. It’s intelligent and thoughtful. However, where I have never managed to finish a Trollope, I did really enjoy this Crowther!
I did struggle a little with it at first, in part because of the writing style and in part because I had a hangover from my previous book and I went into this one quite literally straight after. But once I had got used to the style and the characters I found myself really drawn into the lives of these five friends from Cambridge University.
We meet them in 1995. Stephen, Bill, Judith, Cressida and Marmion have been taken under the wing of Fay, an older woman who has links to the University. Just before they graduate Fay takes them to her cottage in the Lake District where a series of events changes their lives forever. Twenty years later they are summoned back there and we see the paths their lives have taken and how the events of that fateful trip to the Lakes have shaped everything that came after.
The two strands are not told in big chunks but in fairly short chapters and the story flits around a lot between 1995, 2015 and certain other relevant times. This worked so well as it drip fed the story and let it unfold very gradually. I was never confused as to what was happening or which time I was reading about.
The five students are choristers and there is a strong musical element in the book which I loved. I could imagine them singing together just as I could imagine the cottage in the Lakes. The descriptions are vivid and the characters are well written.
There is depth to Rachel Crowther’s writing. This is an absorbing and intense tale which I found required quite a bit of concentration but I liked it a lot.
Nicola Smith 4/3
Every Secret Thing by Rachel Crowther
Zaffre 9781785762123 pbk Jun 2017