The Mother’s Secret by Clare Swatman


Published: 22nd February 2018
Pan Macmillan


Sisters Kate and Georgie have always shared a close bond. While Kate enjoyed the freedoms of youth, Georgie remained at home. But now Georgie is grown up, it’s time she started exploring. Their mother Jan loves her daughters with all her heart. So what if she kept them out of sight when they were young? She just cared for them so much. She wanted to protect them. Maybe there was another reason for Jan’s protective behaviour? If they ventured too far afield, it might destroy the façade of their childhood. This family’s about to discover that while lies can cause pain, the truth could destroy them all.


Thank you to Pan Macmillan for kindly sending me a review copy.

The gripping plot begins with an empty house, a young woman named Georgie and twisted bed sheets. The Mother’s Secret is quick off the mark when it comes to revealing the truth about our main character Georgie as her life is about to be turned upside down when she soon learns about who she truly is. The narrative opens with Georgie and her sister Kate taking a walk around the beach on a chilly day before they enter a café to discuss their mother, Jan who is currently suffering from memory loss. With no real doctor’s diagnosis, the two sisters live in hope that the outcome won’t be as terrifying as they continue to imagine.

“It was only a dream. But it’s a dream I’ve had several times over the last few years and the panic had felt very real.”

With Georgie realising that her mother isn’t going to get any better, on a whim she decides that travelling around the world is something she would like to do (how she’d do that with her teenage daughter in school is a question which seemed to slip the author’s mind). But with travelling comes a passport which includes the need of a birth certificates which is a valuable life element that Georgie has never had hold of. Soon enough, she finds herself sorting through her mother’s loft to try and retrieve the birth certificate and readers will be very quick to work out where the main plot line leads to.

“Everything else is pushed back into place: the boxes, the suitcases, before Georgie stands back and admires her handiwork. It certainly looks just the same as when she found it. Before she knew the secrets the loft was hiding.”

The second part of The Mother’s Secret involves Jan (the mother) sharing her side of the story of how she met Ray (the father), how she fell unexpectedly pregnant with Kate and how the arrival of Georgie changed their entire world. It was an emotional segment of the narrative in which Clare did a brilliant job of allowing the readers to hear the real reason why she snatched a baby. I did feel sympathy towards Jan during the hospital scene as quite a lot is uncovered about how she was feeling at that particular time, but as the plot progresses, readers will understand the truth a lot more about why she did what she did and who knew all along. With the truth about Georgie’s real family being uncovered, she is determined to know answers and that was the only aspect that I felt the plot was missing out on. Yes, Jan was terminally ill and couldn’t remember what she had said five minutes ago but I do wish Georgie could have understand why her Mum did what she did. She may have heard it from a family friend, but perhaps hearing it from the horse’s mouth would have been better closure for her.

“Only then do the tears come: tears for herself, for the family she missed, for her childhood that feels like a lie and for Kimberley, the sad, broken woman who gave her life.”

Clare Swatman is a truly brilliant writer. Her attention to detail is second to none, her way with words drew me in from the opening page and her characters were filled to the brim with life, personality and of course, secrets. I inhaled The Mother’s Secret in just over a day and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I can’t wait to continue reading her books in the years to come. Consider me a fan!