Read Family Secrets by Liz Byrski Online


When patriarch Gerald Hawkins passes away in his Tasmanian home, after ten years of serious illness, his family experience a wave of grief and, admittedly, a surge of relief. Gerald's dominating personality has loomed large over his wife, Connie, their children, Andrew and Kerry, and his sister Flora, for decades.Connie, whose own dreams were dispensed with upon marriage,When patriarch Gerald Hawkins passes away in his Tasmanian home, after ten years of serious illness, his family experience a wave of grief and, admittedly, a surge of relief. Gerald's dominating personality has loomed large over his wife, Connie, their children, Andrew and Kerry, and his sister Flora, for decades.Connie, whose own dreams were dispensed with upon marriage, is now determined to renew her long friendship with Gerald's estranged sister, Flora. She travels to France where she finds Flora struggling to make peace with the past and searching for a place to call home. Meanwhile Andrew's marriage is crumbling, and Kerry is trapped in stasis by unfinished business with her father.As the family adjusts to life after Gerald, they could not be more splintered. But there are surprises in store and secrets to unravel. And once the loss has been absorbed, is it possible that they could all find a way to start afresh with forgiveness, understanding and possibility?...

Title : Family Secrets
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781742613925
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 394 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Family Secrets Reviews

  • Phrynne
    2019-04-30 04:39

    My first book written by this author and I enjoyed it. It is a very pleasant, easy read about several generations of the same family and of course as the title suggests, the family secrets.The book meandered from Australia to France to England and sometimes I forgot who lived where and had to back track a bit. There were a lot of characters to keep track of and the secondary ones sometimes only got a mention in passing. On the final page when we find that Bea and Molly will be visiting in the future I thought "Who on earth is Molly?" I paged back until I found out but it was actually irrelevant:)Every character except Chris seemed to have a damaged past and be disturbed in some way so there was plenty of drama. However once all the secrets are aired everything turns out fine. Reading back it sounds as though I did not like this book! I did though. It is a perfect holiday read with plenty to enjoy on its pages but no need for deep thought on the part of the reader.

  • Brenda
    2019-05-25 05:35

    When Connie Hawkins’ husband Gerald passed away after ten years of her being his full-time carer, she felt a mixture of overwhelming grief, and profound relief. Her children and grandchildren were with Connie at her home in Tasmania for the funeral – it was the very same day that son Andrew and daughter Kerry tried to tell Connie what was best for her future. But Connie had made up her mind; she was going to France to catch up with her one-time best friend, Flora, who was also Gerald’s estranged sister. Then she would travel to London to reflect on her past; to visit the places she’d been so happy as a child with her mother.In the meantime, Connie’s children and their families were struggling through their own grief and lack of direction. Andrew and his wife Linda were having trouble in their marriage, with their almost sixteen-year-old daughter Brooke caught in the middle. And Kerry couldn’t work out what was wrong with her – her constant anger and feelings on being apart from everyone else scared her, but she didn’t know what to do about it.What would happen to them all as secrets from the long-ago past became known? Would forgiveness and peace finally find a place in their lives?Family Secrets by Aussie author Liz Byrski encompasses all that was complicated in one family’s dynamics. Even extended family were affected, and it’s this “working through” that makes the story an enjoyable read. From Australia to France to England, Connie tries to find herself, while her family are doing the same thing at home. My favourite characters were Chris, Kerry’s husband, and Brooke, Connie’s first granddaughter. I always enjoy this author’s work, and Family Secrets is no different. Highly recommended.

  • Dale Harcombe
    2019-05-18 04:30

    Four and a half stars.When Gerald dies after being cared for by his wife for ten years, Connie experiences sadness and relief. Connie has a lot of regrets in her life and blames Gerald who was, without doubt, a selfish control freak. After he dies, Connie determines to catch up with Gerald’s sister Flora, her friend from younger days. Gerald and Flora had been estranged for many years. While I could feel for Connie, I struggled with her compliance. Never having been married to such a controlling personality but rather someone who encourages and supports me, I struggled to understand how she could let her own wishes and dreams be completes overridden by Gerald. As for their children, Andrew and Kerry, I don’t mind admitting I felt like slapping them to begin with. Over the course of the novel, the behaviour and attitudes of several people change as secrets are revealed. This is a novel about marriage, family, love, regrets, forgiveness, friendship and home truths, and sometimes blaming others instead of accepting responsibility for personal choices made. Even though at times I questioned some of the decisions and choices made by various characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and was emotionally involved all the way through. While I mostly liked Connie, Brooke - her granddaughter, Flora and others, the character I most liked was Connie’s son in law. Chris. He is a caring, supportive man- the type many would like to be married to. Liz Byrski is one of my favourite Australian authors because she writes about people I can relate to who have had lots of life experience. The characters are complex and very real and maybe not always what they seem at first. A great read that I kept wanting to get back to. In fact my dear husband was told at one stage,’ I can’t anything else now; I have to finish my book.’ Since he is also a reader he understands that power of a good book.

  • Kathryn
    2019-05-08 10:40

    I’ve just finished this one, my first Liz Byrski. I really enjoyed it, and am definitely interested in reading more of this author’s work.I enjoyed the settings of Hobart, Port d’Esprit - a little coastal village in Brittany, France, and in England (mostly London).I enjoyed reading about the family dynamics as the main character, Connie, heads back to France/England after her husband’s death to try to repair family relationships and discovers more secrets than she was aware of.I did feel that Connie’s characterisation was a little inconsistent at some points - she spent all her married life avoiding confrontation with her husband and keeping the peace among her family, yet she goes over to England and is almost combative at times. I guess maybe you could make the argument that she was sick of holding her tongue and making excuses for wrong behaviour after all that time, but her attitude just didn’t quite ring true at times.But I was mostly able to put that aside and suspend my disbelief and just enjoy the story. I liked that the story was written from the perspective of different members of the family, giving a more well-rounded view of the whole.

  • Marianne
    2019-04-28 06:39

    Family Secrets is the eighth novel by British-born Australian author, Liz Byrski. When seventy-three year-old Gerald Hawkins dies after a long illness, he is survived by his wife Connie and their two adult children, three grandchildren and his long-estranged younger sister, Flora. And now that this forceful presence in their lives has gone, things will change for everyone. But perhaps not as expected.Believing they need to take their mother’s future in hand, Andrew and Kerry are surprised at Connie’s vehement disagreement with their plans. Firstly, she is going to England and France, to catch up with Flora, and to find the Connie that she was before Gerald came along. And she has absolutely no intention of selling up to move closer to her children and grandchildren, thank you very much!As the title implies, this is a family with secrets, and lots of them. Unstated bitterness at a life not lived, hidden sexual preferences, secret lovers, worries about mental disposition, resentment at disloyalties, guilt about betrayals, fears of rejection, all these and more are concealed from those who have a right and a need to know. The catalyst of Gerald’s death sees many of them exposed, but the biggest secret of all is one revealed to Connie during her time away.Byrski uses several narrators to tell her tale and easily conveys the perspective of both young and old. Her characters are all familiar and believable in their attitudes and reactions, although Connie’s self-absorption at a certain point may leave readers gasping. Any woman would want a Chris to love and support them, but few would envy the latter years of Connie’s marriage. Byrski touches on a myriad of topical issues including the assimilation of refugees and the effect of a long terminal illness on the spouse/carer. Another brilliant Byrski book.

  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    2019-05-21 04:35

    When Liz Byrski turned fifty she keenly felt the lack of literature that reflected the lives of women in mid life, and drawing on her experience as a journalist and freelance writer, set out to change that by writing the sort of books that she wanted to read.Family Secrets is Liz Byrski's eighth fiction novel, a story about love, regrets, forgiveness and redemption. After a long, debilitating illness, Gerald Hawkins passing is both a cause for sadness and relief for his wife Connie, and his adult children Kerry and Andrew. For decades they have lived their lives as Gerald, a dominant man, had wished them too and now that he is gone they are all forced to find their own way forward. Connie chooses to revisit her past, announcing her plans to go to England for an extended holiday, hoping to reconnect with the woman she was before she married Gerald and gave up her dreams to become a dutiful wife and mother in Tasmania, and to rekindle her relationship with her childhood best friend, and Gerald's sister, Flora, who has been estranged from the family for many years. Connie's journey is not what she imagined it would be however, especially when she is confronted with some home truths about the choices she made and the person she has become.Meanwhile her children are grappling with their changing futures. Andrew, disillusioned with his career and his marriage, is unsurprised to discover his wife's affair but determined to protect his teenage daughter, Brooke, from the fall-out. Kerry, harbouring long held resentment and guilt about her father is at a loss when he dies, and is left struggling with the symptoms of clinical depression.Byrski explores the way in which it is often difficult to be honest with ourselves, and others, and the corrosive nature of failing to accept the truth. Each main character in Family Secrets is challenged to reconcile their past and escape the shadow of Gerald's legacy by taking responsibility for the people whom they have become, and making changes that allow them to reconnect with the people they love.I thought Family Secrets was an engaging read, not especially gripping but a thoughtful and well told story of realistic domestic drama.

  • Jan
    2019-05-07 10:42

    Liz Byrski has to be admired for the skill she displays in writing about family relationships. The story comes across to the reader with such ease it gives the impression Byrski has sat down at the computer and knocked it out in one draft. I don't expect that is the truth, but this confident tone makes Family Secrets very believable. She knows her target audience and includes humour, pathos, anger and jealousy. All very entertaining and absorbing.

  • Kerry Tolson
    2019-05-04 10:22

    Connie gives up her dreams of pursuing a life in Opera to marry her best friends brother, Gerald, and become the dutiful wife and mother. Gerald wants to be a 'big fish' in life, and moves he and Connie from England to Tasmania, Australia where the 'pond' is small enough for him to stand out. As Gerald builds a life as a Politician and businessman, Connie falls further and further into the role of wife and mother to Andrew and Kerry, banishing all desires of something more, hiding from her family any hopes or dreams she may have ever had. As the years go by, Andrew and Kerry grow, marry and have children and careers of their own, all that have been orchestrated and approved of by Gerald. Upon retirement, Gerald become ill and Connie becomes nurse, spending ten years caring for Gerald, separating herself even further from a life and from her now adult children and young grandchildren. Upon Gerald's death, Connie finally finds herself free from his dominating personality and is determine to re-find herself and reconnect with her former best friend, Geralds sister - Flora - who was banished from the family fold many years earlier. Meanwhile Andrew is watching his own marriage collapse and is considering a different career path, and Kerry is trapped in stasis by unfinished business with her father. As they struggle with their day to day lives and deal with the grief of losing the dominating presence of Gerald. Connie, Andrew and Kerry must also find a way to reconnect their splintered fragmented family and deal with the discovery that Geralds life was not all they thought it was.This is a story about how well do any of us really know of those we love. How well does a wife know her husband or vise-versa, who were our parents before they become mum and dad, what were their dreams, what did they do, who did they love. Every person has a hidden past, a hidden dream, a hidden life. Its also a story about rediscovering self and facing the idea of 'what-if'.I enjoyed this book very much, Liz Byrski is writing real stories about the everyday person and about the choices women have felt they needed to make in the context of society at the time. I also related to this book because the 'family secret' that is discovered in this story actually happen in my own family and is more common than many of us think. Yet even today it is still a skeleton that is kept tucked away and hidden in the closet for many a family.

  • Steph
    2019-05-14 09:43

    Others on Good Reads have summarised the storyline well, so I suggest that you read their reviews here.What can I say? She writes for women of my generation and background. She articulates our issues so well. Reading any one of these novels is empowering. Her writing is pleasing. Her subject matter and the way she handles it is psychologically powerful.

  • Lyn
    2019-05-01 06:39

    Liz Birski juggles many characters, through 4 generations and in 3 countries, and about as many social and emotional issues as you could imagine a family might face. The time line swaps back and forward. The dead grandfather, Gerald, still seems to be the link and the millstone for most of the characters. His widow Connie, her two children and three grandchildren have had their lives on hold whilst he took ten years to die. Connie chose “peace” over right and let the bully, Gerald, call the shots. Connie seemed to have missed out on women’s lib, as if she was from a previous generation. Secrets and lies colour the lives of nearly all the characters, loss and sadness clouds others. I thought it well written but the width seemed to drag the depth down. It was a bit ambitious, character and theme wise, as if it had something for everyone. Still it is worth the read.

  • Mary
    2019-05-21 06:49

    I love that Liz Byrski focuses on the lives of older women. Here, after a old long illness, Gerald has died. Gerald was a larger than life character who dominated and damaged his family with emotional abuse. Now that he is gone Connie has to work out who she is, apart from Gerald's wife and carer, and how she can put herself and her family back together. Her children and grandchildren have also been deeply affected as has her friendship with Gerald's sister.I enjoyed this book but found it difficult to be entirely gripped by it. Some behaviours just did not seem to match the characters. Some characters did not seem entirely believable. And it dragged a bit in spots for me - probably because there are so many characters over such a wide geographical area and the focus is very spread out.

  • Terri Smith
    2019-05-03 08:44

    Not up to Liz's usual standards. I didn't love this book.

  • Hazel Edwards
    2019-05-19 09:31

    Liz Byrski maintains a cast of characters and their inter- relationships and viewpoints extremely well, even across generations. Such a change to read about 'rounded' older females with various aspects to their lives. Really enjoyed the settings of Hobart and St Malo. Towards the end I got a bit irritated by the strength of Connie's angst about discovering the consequences of her controlling husband's earlier relationship but resolved with common sense by the grand daughter. Will definitely recommend this and Byrski's other novels.

  • Joanne Hyland
    2019-04-27 08:48

    Liz Byrski is my favourite local author (although Tim Winton holds a special place in my heart!). I love that her books are usually set in and around Perth and Western Australia and I enjoy seeing places I know through her eyes. I am always keen to get my hands on her latest book and this one was a great read. Set in Tasmania, London and coastal regional France it was a very enjoyable journey with flawed believable characters you feel you know and understand.

  • Maggie
    2019-05-23 09:40

    A wonderfully compelling family drama. As always, I loved Liz Byrski's latest book. I became totally involved with the well drawn characters. This is a real family and the cathartic event of Gerald's death is the catalyst for the events which follow. Another gem from Liz Byrski!

  • Carinya Kappler
    2019-05-20 04:29

    Liz Byrski has a knack for recreating credible family scenarios into an entertaining, humorous and sometimes frustrating novel. In this story set predominately in Tasmania the patriarch Gerald Hawkins has passed away leaving his extended family to sort out years of secrets, peel away layers of hurt and set a path for their own independent futures. Gerald's widow Connie has suddenly emerged from her gentle carer chrysalis transformed into a tough modern woman. How will she deal with the emotional carnage that Gerald has bequeathed?I enjoyed the book immensely, Carinya

  • Joanne Mawhirt
    2019-05-03 02:21

    I do like Liz’s writing style. I enjoyed this book with the different secrets all families seem to keep hidden, it’s a shame that some are big enough to be life changing but sadly are sometimes found too late. We should be open with our family and it’s past no matter how hard it may seem because it can make a stronger future and a closer relationship.

  • Kerrie
    2019-05-19 04:50

    Addresses a broad range of issues many families skirt around. Covers life at home and abroad. Characters fleshed out extremely well and believable. I could see a sequel to this one day.

  • Ruth
    2019-05-24 06:49

    This seemed a little pedestrian after reading “See what I have done”. But an interesting jaunt around Hobart, Melbourne and what was probably the Côte du Granit Rose in northern Brittany. A book about a woman of a certain age as I gather most of Liz Byrski’s books are: middle aged to senior women finding their way in life. Not unpleasant but seemed to take too long to read.

  • Karen O'Brien-Hall
    2019-04-28 10:32

    “HAWKINS, Gerald ArthurPassed peacefully at his home in Hobart on 25 January 2012, aged 73.Beloved husband of Connie, father of Andrew and Kerry, grandfather of Brooke, Ryan and Mia,father-in-law of Linda and Chris.Peace at last after a long and painful journey.So many happy memories.We will miss you terribly, but you will live foreverin our hearts”The day they disperse their father’s ashes, Andrew and Kerry have a long discussion about the dispersal of their mother Connie. Like all good children, they know instinctively what is right for Connie and waste no time sharing their combined wisdom with her. To their utter disbelief, Connie has no intention of “moving closer” to either of them in fact she has decided to pack her bags immediately and travel. They are further amazed to learn that Afghanistan refugee Farah and her daughters will live in their home, taking care of the family dog, until Connie returns.What’s more, Connie is going to visit Gerald’s long estranged sister Flora and see if she can rekindle their friendship. This cannot be the “just a few years short of seventy” woman they love so dearly; the woman who gave up her career for marriage and family; the woman who without complaint cared for their father during his long illness.In their own way, every member of the family has been living in Gerald’s shadow, living with his decrees. Many questions, such as why Flora was persona non grata for so many years, are never answered. Gerald tells his wife and children the discussion is ended and it is ended; his word is absolute. Consequently, something that could have been explained remains locked away, a family secret. He is not a bad man; he is a product of the time where the man of the house took responsibility for the household.Connie knew this, but also a product of her time, she allowed her husband to lead and govern the family. Now that his physical presence is removed, will Gerald still influence the decisions? Will the secrets of a lifetime stay secret, or will they be revealed? Will the family shatter and disintegrate, or will they become a stronger unit, finding their own personalities. When you find a great author, you may wonder, “Can the books get any better”. I entered Liz Byrski’s world via the Last Chance Café, met the Gang of Four, laughed and cried my way through Belly Dancing for Beginners and went on a Trip of a Lifetime. I learned a little about the real Liz via Remember Me – A Memoir and then took another journey with this esteemed academic in Getting On: Some Thoughts on Women and Aging. So how does Family Secrets fare? Without choosing a favourite child, it is as warm, compassionate, compelling and just plain enjoyable as I have come to expect from this wonderful author. Liz Byrski writes about mature people, women in particular. Her characters are fully developed; they love, hate and hold grudges; they resent time they spend doing one thing when they would rather be doing something else; in short they are real. Thank you Jace Armstrong from Pan MacMillan Australia for providing me with my ARC. I would like to leave you with a little quote from Family Secrets that I found thought provoking: “Well, I asked you if you thought that when people fall in love they love each other like that forever. And you said that if you really love someone, you can also hate them and different things will tip you one way or the other. And you said, perhaps if you love someone you just can’t keep it up all the time.”This review is published on

  • Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
    2019-04-29 06:37

    *3.5 starsThe complexities of family life is the central focus of West Australian author Liz Byrski’s latest novel, Family Secrets. In the aftermath of domineering patriarch of the Hawkins family Gerald’s death, his family experiences a wave of emotions from grief and relief to anger. His wife Connie, who was his carer throughout his long suffering illness, feels the need to reconnect with her life prior to her husband. This leads Connie far away from her beautiful home in Tasmania to France, where she hopes to reconcile with her estranged best friend, Flora, who is also Gerald’s sister. As Connie tries to deal with Gerald’s passing and events from the past, a secret is revealed to her that will send shockwaves through her whole family. Back home in Australia, Connie’s children, Andrew and Kerry, have their own issues to contend with, whilst dealing with their Father’s death. Andrew, is faced with the prospect of his marriage ending, losing his home and daughter. Kerry, Gerald and Connie’s daughter, is struggling to come to terms with unresolved issues she had with her Father. It becomes clear that Gerald’s death demands more than just grief, it requires forgiveness and a sense of understanding from each family member in this emotional drama.Family Secrets does not shy away from exposing the complicated dynamics of family relationships. Each character in the book is fleshed out and given a strong personality. Brooke, Connie’s teenage granddaughter, was the obvious standout character in the book, showing sense and wisdom well beyond her years. Overall, I found this a profoundly candid read about family life, a little predictable in places, with a nicely wrapped up ending. Although Byrski’s eighth novel contains a narrative focused on a mature female character in her 70’s, readers will not find it difficult to identify with Byrski’s tender story about a family dealing with grief.

  • Natalie
    2019-05-11 03:42

    'Family Secrets' is a book about just that, family secrets. I was actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, and how much of a surprise journey it took me on. Set in Australia, France and London was a nice treat that I also wasn't expecting, and I liked how it still managed to tie together so many different characters lives together beautifully. It's a light book and very easy to read, but at the same time it's very addictive and leaves you wanting to know what happens next. Highly recommended to anyone that is looking for a light read but heavy on characters and stories within a story.

  • Anne Forrest
    2019-05-20 09:26

    A cleaver writing style, written from the perspective of many different family members.This gives the reader a balanced view of the dynamics of the family.She juggles these many characters, setting & situations well.I was keen to read on as the various stories unfolded.Set in London, Tasmania & coastal France, I didn't "see" these locations or learn anything about them.That disappointed me, I like to learn about places I haven't visited.It was an easy read. I have read others of hers i have enjoyed more.

  • Denise Covey
    2019-05-17 05:46

    I love Liz Byrski and I love her rambling family sagas. I enjoyed the settings in both Tasmania, Brittany and London. The different generations of the families were well presented and added to the tension. I liked the main character and the way she's been submersed in her marriage and how she's given up too much. It's good to see books delving into what happens after a controlling partner dies and is no longer calling the shots--or is he?

  • Jennifer Rolfe
    2019-05-08 03:38

    When I requested this from the library I was 84th on the list so I have been waiting a while for this one and it didn't disappoint. The theme was a family struggling under the power of a male despot/tyrant. I think this is a theme shared by many. The 'don't question my authority' is the means men silence women and children - the concealed threat.

  • Louise
    2019-05-23 07:25

    This one's going straight to the holiday reading shelf! Liz Byrski's eighth novel again places older women at the centre of the narrative. An easy to read, well-constructed story about four women and their angst-ridden attempts to live happily ever after.

  • Sam Colloff
    2019-05-09 03:29

    I was just in the right frame of mind for this. a gentle, slow paced read with strong characters, quite a light read but still meaningful. wish goodreads allowed half-stars, I'd give this a three and a half.

  • Tracy
    2019-05-23 10:34

    It was a bit of a nothing story really. An illegitimate child and a lesbian in the family. That's it! Very little happens in this book. It's really a story of how the family deal and feel about these two events but in a pretty non eventful way.

  • Di Sharples
    2019-05-22 10:47

    Not bad. I find it amazing how one can relate to our own lives.

  • Jacq
    2019-05-22 10:46

    So refreshing to pick up a book and find it's about the complexities of a family that has grown up but not necessarily moved on. Loss, grief and dealing with second chances. Nothing is simple and Family Secrets plays out in brilliant drama.