Review of 'Do You Want To Know a Secret', a novel by Claudia Carroll.
I am reviewing the paperback version of this book, 480 pages, published by Transworld Ireland, ISBN 978-1848270244, cover price £6.99.
Genre:- Modern Fiction (i.e. Chick-lit!).
Vicky Harper is a thirty something successful woman. In spite of her outwardly successful life, Vicky is in turmoil as she is still single and every man she dates seems to let her down. Vicky owns a bijou house which she is in the process of renovating, however thanks to her builder, known as 'Useless Builder', her house is more like a bomb-site.
Vicky has two very close friends, Barbara, an out of work actress and Laura, a former lawyer who is now a stay at home single mother of 4. Laura's husband, who is always referred to by his full name, George Hastings, has left Laura for a newer model.
The three women decide to treat each others problems as a project and embark on a plan to re-vamp Barbara's acting career, find a man for Vicky and a way for Laura to earn some money and feel fulfilled again. In the course of their project, the women discover an old book called 'The Law of Attraction'. The book is a kind of self-help guide based on positive thinking. All three realise that negativity has been at the root of many of their problems and throw themselves whole-heartedly into improving their lot.
Do they succeed? No spoilers here, you'll have to read the novel to find out!
==About the Author==
Author Claudia Carroll was born in Dublin, and she still lives in the area. Claudia is also an actress, probably best known for her role as TV's Nicola Prendergast in the long running Dublin soap opera, 'Fair City.'
Her first novel was published in 2004 and she has gone on to pen a total of 9 novels. Claudia's books are all based in Ireland and of the chick-lit genre.
==My Thoughts and Conclusion==
I was given this novel by a relative, a fellow book worm. To be honest, if I had seen this in a bookshop, I probably wouldn't have bought it as the blurb is read rather too 'fluffy' to really appeal to me. I don't mind a light novel now and again, but this really did sound a bit like a True Romance special!
I was not familiar with Claudia Carroll's novels, so had no preconceived expectations before reading the book. At the moment, there are a great many female authors from Ireland producing some excellent novels, and it was with this in mind that I decided to give Do You Want To Know A Secret a chance.
When I began reading this novel I quickly realised that although the theme is the typical fluffy, romantic chick-lit fodder, the novel is well written and the emotional connection between the three friends is so well described, that I felt I actually knew them. The characters are superbly drawn and I found myself warming to Laura in particular, especially when she was struggling with her rowing children, she actually reminded me of my own daughter and the way she deals with her stroppy 12 year old! The main character, Vicky, was likeable enough, however, I have to admit that I found the actress, Barbara, rather irritating.
I considered the humour within the dialogue amusing and I felt that it added more realism and depth to the characters.
On a negative point, in my opinion, the plot itself is not a strong one, it is a little predictable in places and the outcome was just as I had suspected as early as the third chapter, that it would be. That said, Do You Want To Know A Secret, is a light-hearted novel, ideal holiday reading and as such, it is worth a read.
I am awarding this novel a 4* rating.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 September 2011
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same name.
When I first picked up 'Do You Want to Know a Secret?' by Claudia Carroll, I was not too sure that I was going to enjoy it. The blurb on the back of the book made it sound a bit too light and fluffy (and even a bit silly) even for me! However, I was glad that I did decide to give it a go because it wasn't actually like that at all and proved to be a great read by another very good Irish writer. (There are so many good female Irish writers out there that I keep losing track of which is my favourite!)
The book features three women who, although they are quite successful in some ways, all have a part of their life which they are not happy with and really wish to change. Vicky, the main character and the narrator of this story, runs her own business but she so wants to have a man in her life. Barbara is very successful with men but she is desperate to really kick start her acting career and prove what she can really do. The third character is Laura who has four delightful children, but as a stay at home single mum desperately needs to find a way to earn some money. Spurred on by a book they discover called 'The Law of Attraction', they decide that the way for them all to achieve their dreams is by project managing each other's lives.
This is the basis of the whole story and it does make for a very entertaining read. At times it is very funny, especially when Barbara is dragging Vicky around all of Dublin's night haunts and although she successfully meets some potential suitors most turn out to be total nightmares. There's one who's already planning the wedding and another who just can't get over his ex girlfriend. You really can't help but feel sympathy for Vicky who just can't understand why it is so difficult to meet attractive but uncomplicated men! You really feel for all three women who all are quite despairing at times. The question is though, whether they do achieve their dreams by the end of the book and do they really need each other's help to do so. They certainly all give it a good go.
There is a good pace to this book with plenty going on without it being too much. I found myself keeping wanting to pick up the book and just read a little bit more (and then a little bit more still!) Claudia Carroll has a very easy to read style and because it was written in the first person, it felt very chatty and relaxed.
It was also quite thought provoking at times and some of the things that the women quoted from the book were very apt. It is all about positive thinking but it says that if you think negatively and start thinking about the worst that will happen, it quite possibly will. I thought there was probably quite a bit of truth in that statement as well as others in the book.
The paperback has a little over 450 pages but can probably be read quite easily in just a few days. It is currently available on Amazon for £5.49. Do You Want to Know a Secret? Was the first book that I have read by Claudia Carroll but having read it, I would happily read some more.