Secrets My Father Kept by Rachel Givney is set in Poland in 1939 as Hitler plans an invasion that will instigate the beginning of WWII.
In Krakow, Dominik Karska works as a hard-pressed doctor at the city’s hospital. His daughter, Marie, age seventeen, longs to follow in his footsteps and qualify at university, but women are discouraged from applying. Her primary concern, however, regards the disappearance of her mother sixteen years ago. Her father has always refused to speak of his wife’s desertion and even her name remains a mystery.
Dominik’s mission is to find a husband for Marie, one who will protect her when he is no longer able. The strong-willed Marie, however, has already chosen the man she wants to marry. He is her childhood friend, Ben, whose Jewish faith does not deter her from marrying him. She is determined to defy her father on the issue, and also to find the truth about her mother.
Little does she know that her investigations will uncover his darkest secret.
This heart-wrenching novel, set in a time of such threat and upheaval, is a tribute to the love of a parent for their child and the lengths they will go to to protect them from harm.
It also highlights the treatment of women who were then deemed only fit to serve as drudges, while their male counterparts were doctors or pharmacists.
As war approaches, the narrative tells of the breakdown of communities, discrimination both of race and creed. Former friends and neighbours turn against each other and past grudges perpetrate foul deeds.
This wonderfully intriguing novel will keep the reader on the edge of their seat until finally revealing an unexpected twist at the end.
A brilliant must-read for 2021.
Secrets My Father Kept is available in paperback, e-book and audiobook.
About Rachel Givney
Rachel Givney is a writer and filmmaker originally from Sydney, Australia (currently based in Melbourne). She has worked on Offspring, The Warriors, McLeod’s Daughters, Rescue: Special Ops and All Saints. Her films have been official selections at the Sydney Film Festival, Flickerfest and many more.