The Secrets She Keeps: A Novel
The Secrets She Keeps: A Novel

The Secrets She Keeps: A Novel

by Michael Robotham

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Overview

“A book you won’t be able to put down, although you may occasionally want to hide your eyes” (Stephen King) from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham, a psychological thriller about an unlikely friendship between two pregnant women that asks: how far would you go to create the perfect family?

Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby, to maybe return her calls.

When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever...

Once again, bestselling author Michael Robotham delivers a dark and twisted page-turner that “will keep you reading as fast as you can” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). With its brilliant rendering of the secrets some women hold close and a shocking act that cannot be undone, The Secrets She Keeps is “a can’t-put-down mama drama...a premium delivery” (People).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501170324
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 01/02/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 195,830
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Michael Robotham is a former investigative journalist whose psychological thrillers have been translated into twenty-three languages. In 2015 he won the prestigious UK Gold Dagger for his novel Life or Death, which was also shortlisted for the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel. Michael has twice won a Ned Kelly Award for Australia's best crime novel for Lost in 2015 and Shatter in 2008. He has also twice been shortlisted for the CWA UK Steel Dagger in 2007 for The Night Ferry and 2008 with Shatter. He lives in Sydney with his wife and three daughters. His recent novels include The Secrets She Keeps and Good Girl, Bad Girl.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Secrets She Keeps includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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Introduction

From internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham, The Secrets She Keeps is a psychological thriller about an unlikely friendship between two pregnant women that asks: how far would you go to create the perfect family?

Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by with her in increasing physical discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, and a stylish group of friends; and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby to-be, to maybe return her calls.

When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever . . .

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The Secrets She Keeps opens with the following declaration from Agatha: “I am not the most important person in this story. That honor belongs to Meg.” Compare this with Meg’s opening lines a few pages later. To whom do you imagine the two women are telling this “story”? Do you think Agatha and Meg have the same readers or listeners in mind?

2. How did you feel about following two points of view throughout the novel? How does Michael Robotham establish distinct voices for Agatha and Meghan? If not from the very beginning, at what point did they become fully realized characters for you?

3. We all project certain ideals onto strangers we observe as we go about our days. What do you think accounts for this nosy impulse? Is it more extreme in Agatha than in the average person? What is so different about her?

4. As its writer and most dedicated reader, respectively, Meg and Agatha have complicated attitudes toward Meg’s blog, Mucky Kids. Discuss how their consideration of the blog evolves as events unfold. What does the blog represent for each of them?

5. For Agatha, lying to Meg comes easy because, she tells us, “the lies I tell others are nothing compared to the ones I tell myself” (p. 113). What are Agatha’s greatest self-deceptions? What are Meg’s? Which woman is more convinced by her own lies?

6. How is motherhood portrayed in the novel? In what ways does having children define Meg and Agatha? Discuss how other female characters in the book define themselves in relation to motherhood, including Jules, Hayden’s mother, and Rhea Bowden. Compare the portrayal of motherhood with depictions of fatherhood. How do Hayden, Jack, Nicky, and Simon define themselves in relation to having children?

7. How does Agatha’s relationship with her mother affect her attitude toward having children of her own? What do you imagine Meg’s parents were like?

8. According to Meg, she and her husband approach life very differently: “Jack anticipates problems in advance and prepares for the worst, marshaling resources to handle things. I take problems as they come, bending rather than breaking” (p. 55). Do these approaches, as spelled out by Meg, speak more to her compatibility with Jack, or her incompatibility? How would you describe Agatha’s approach to life? Hayden’s? Are they a compatible couple?

9. What is the creature inside Agatha’s body that speaks to her? Do you think Agatha is the only character in the novel with such a critical voice inside her head?

10. His professional credentials aside, what about Cyrus Haven’s background enables him to understand Agatha better than everybody else? Even though we aren’t privy to his perspective, did you find him to be a relatable character? Why or why not?

11. Discuss your reactions to the novel’s final chapter, where Agatha’s fate is revealed. Is she dead? Who is the daughter she is expecting to visit her? What is she waiting for?

12. Many fans of The Secrets She Keeps are surprised that Michael Robotham was able to get inside the heads of two female characters in such a convincing and sympathetic way. How did the fact that this book was written by a man influence your reading? Were there instances where you thought a female author might have written things differently?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. The plot for The Secrets She Keeps was inspired by the true story of a baby abduction at a London hospital in 1990. Research media reports of the Alexandra Griffiths case online. How does it compare to the fictional media coverage in the novel?

2. The Secrets She Keeps has been compared to Paula Hawkins’s novel The Girl on the Train. Read both books, then compare and contrast Agatha Fyfle and Rachel Watson. What common experiences do the characters share? What overlapping themes appear in these two works?

Customer Reviews

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The Secrets She Keeps: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
This book captivated me, upset me, gave me sad dreams, and ultimately fulfilled the promise of a great story.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
4.5★s The Secrets She Keeps is the fourth stand-alone novel by Australian author, Michael Robotham. Two women from different backgrounds find they have something in common: they are to give birth in a few weeks. For ex-journalist and mummy-blogger Meghan Shaughnessy, it will be her third, and this one is unplanned. Supermarket employee Agatha Fyfle tells Meg it’s her first. Neither, however, is being completely honest, and with good reasons. Meg carries an overwhelming guilt about the baby’s conception; Agatha’s reasons are much darker. Robotham uses a dual narrative to tell the tale. It soon becomes apparent that Agatha is an unreliable narrator whose her awful childhood is meant to mitigate her actions as an adult, although some of those affected have difficulty seeing it this way. Meg’s emotions are more relatable and certainly her anguish is well-conveyed. Everyone involved has secrets that hide their very human flaws, not the least of which is self-interest, but as the story races towards the nail-biting conclusion, the behaviour of some characters will surprise the reader. Within the framework of a cleverly constructed psychological thriller, Robotham manages to incorporate child abduction, adultery, child sexual assault and murder. Definitely a page-turner.
tschnitzler 25 days ago
I had such a good time reading this book! The story is told from Agatha and from Meg, back and forth. Agatha and Meghan are two totally different people, yet seem to find some common ground near the end. Their not so chance meeting at the grocery store ends up changing both of their lives in huge ways. Both Agatha and Meghan are pregnant, expecting at the same time, yet one is not. It is indeed a page-turner, and I didn't like having to put it down to sleep, work, and those other interruptions called life. How Michael Robotham tells such a tale from women's points of view is beyond me! Such talent!
Anonymous 26 days ago
another great story by this author.
Anonymous 5 months ago
slow start but then couldn't put down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable read. It took me a while to read and was long in parts. However, overall a book to finish and I would recommend to someone who likes to keep guessing how a book will end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn’t put it down
Twink More than 1 year ago
Michael Robotham is hands down one of my favourite authors. His latest is a stand alone called The Secrets She Keeps. And oh, it is so very good! Agatha works in a grocery store part time. She's joyfully awaiting the arrival of her baby. And she's hoping to hear from the father of the baby who is out at sea. Meghan shops at Agatha's store and is also expecting a baby - her third. Meghan has all the advantages that Agatha doesn't - money, a large home, two other children, a successful enterprise and a husband. Agatha discovers that they are both due in the same month and and initiates a conversation. This contact looms larger in Agatha's mind, but both women are harbouring secrets.... The secrets are slowly revealed and one of the women has a secret agenda. Robotham's slow revealing of each woman's secrets and true nature makes for an absolutely addicting read/listen. And even though one of the women's actions are appalling, I found myself feeling sorry for her and hoping that maybe things would go her way. I am being deliberately obtuse as I don't want to spoil things for you. But what I can say is that this is one of my top reads for 2017. Loved it! And if you like psychological suspense this one's for you.
toReadistoEscape More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Why I wanted to read this book: Because it was compared to The Girl on the Train and In a Dark and Dark Wood. Two books I enjoyed. What I liked about this book: -I enjoyed the female characters. Meg seemed to have it all, is sincere with her relationships and remorseful for her mistakes. Agatha is just “boil the rabbit” crazy. -Witty humor and lots of funny one liners. -The friendship reminds me of “Single White Female” for married couples. How well do you really know your friends? Intriguing relationship drama. The grass always looks green on the other side of the fence. However, things are not always as they appear. What I didn’t like: There were several times I didn’t agree with a characters’ actions and I didn’t feel it was well supported. It didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. This was the first book I have read by Michael Robotham. I enjoyed it so much I plan to start his Joseph O’Loughlin series and “Life or Death”.
Miccox99 More than 1 year ago
This book is not like any other book by this author. It is intriguing and interesting how the author fully developed his characters and wove the mystery into the story so that you didn't see it coming, yet the crime unfolds in full sight. You are fully aware of who the victim and who the criminal are once the crime is committed, but it has interesting twists as it unfolds. This puts all other psychological crime mysteries on notice as this is how they should be written, with fully fleshed out characters, realistic actions/reactions and a plot that flows in a completely realistic and interesting manner.
4840318 More than 1 year ago
I am a little bit at a loss on how to rate this book, and I think I finally settled on 3 stars. Up until about the last 23% of the book, I thought for sure this was going to be a 4-5 star read, and then the end just fell so completely flat. Let me start off with the first 77% of the book. I was riveted. I was really into it and really enjoying the story. The book is told in alternating POV, and I was equally interested in both Agatha & Meghan's stories. The suspense builds, the secrets are revealed and the pace was perfect. Then, at 77%, there is one line that made me think that the whole poophouse was about to come down and here was the twist, the big reveal. I was all "OMG" and very excited to keep reading. And then... nothing. The suspense still builds, but there isn't any part of the book that you don't really know already what is going to happen. And quite frankly, it was a huge let down. The end fell flat and in my view, caused this book to lose significant stars and drop to a book that I was ho-hum about vs. being a book I raved about. At the end of the day, I am not entirely sure I would recommend it. Ultimately, I was disappointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CrazyCat_Alex More than 1 year ago
The story about Agatha has been a sad one and at times it was difficult t keep reading. I felt for her, not getting the one thing she wanted most in her life - love. I would liked to have more background information to Agatha's life, especially her childhood. But even without that, it was clear, that there was not one person in her life not leaving her a some point or giving her the feeling of unconditional love. The character of Meghan wasn't really lovable to me. She didn't appreciate her life or every one in it. I have to agree with Agatha on this. And she didn't learn anything from this incident. She was still lying to her husband, making him feel bad for his cheating. When she wasn't innocent either. Tricked Simon into a false DNA swab. One would think that she got a little more humbled after an experience like this. And then there is Hayden. He was just as sick as Agatha and I would have wanted to know how his story ends. "The Secrets She Keeps" is a great psychological thriller, which I would love to see made in to a movie. I think it would make for great entertainment. Highly recommended! I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK!
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
Yowsa! I stayed up late reading this one! Agatha, who is pregnant, has become obsessed with a customer (Meghan) who comes into the grocery store where she stocks the shelves. Agatha is stalking Meghan, unbeknownst to her, trying to imbibe herself into Meghan's life. Meghan has a nice house, a TV sports announcer husband, and two children (a perfect set, a boy and girl). She's a stay at home with her own blog wherein she posts about the daily life of a married homemaker with two children discussing their antics. Meghan is also pregnant, Agatha soon discovers. Meghan and Agatha become friends. However, Meghan is unaware of the secrets of Agatha's past and how those secrets will absolutely crush her world. A book filled with suspense, action, danger and the craziness of the thoughts in Agatha's head together with her secret past made this a very enjoyable book that I could not put down. Agatha's thoughts and how she sees the world is jaw dropping and unbelievable. Thanks to Scibner and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.