If the primary author’s name sounds familiar, she is the Nadiya from Great British Baking. This is her first novel, and it was written with Ayisha Malik.
The book centers on four sisters – Fatima, Bubblee, Farah, and Mae. Bubblee and Farah are twins. The title is somewhat misleading as what secrets there are not really the sister’s (honesty, the one you think might be Bubblee’s never shows) but those of their family. Additionally, the book is almost wrapped about too neatly – though a couple plot threads are left, satisfying loose. There are a couple places where you are wondering – wow, really would that happen – but not too many.
There is, however, a charm about the book. Some of that has to done with the fact that Hussain doesn’t really seem to think that the reader will consider the plot twists as twists or surprises. So, there is no “see, I, the great author, has tricked you” feeling that is especially annoying when the author has not in fact tricked you. None of that.
But the bulk of the charm rests on the sisters. With the possible exception of Farah, all the sisters are well drawn. Their interactions are beautifully rendered. Even the supporting characters – from the nudist neighbors to the father who puts hedge cuttings in the smoothie – have life. You read the book for the characters and not the plot. It is almost like watching a nice little series on the tv.
Is it the deepest novel I have ever read? No. But it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.