Secrecy

( 13 )

Overview

Charlotte Dawes was only fourteen when it happened. The terrifying ordeal would rob her of her childhood innocence and haunt her for the rest of her life. Years afterward, she would remember it with fear and loathing, with pain that could be banished only by her work - as a gifted architect building a new world for others as she conceals her own. For the Dawes family, once factory owners and prime employers in the New England mill town, what happened to Charlotte was the beginning of the cover-up, the beginning ...
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Overview

Charlotte Dawes was only fourteen when it happened. The terrifying ordeal would rob her of her childhood innocence and haunt her for the rest of her life. Years afterward, she would remember it with fear and loathing, with pain that could be banished only by her work - as a gifted architect building a new world for others as she conceals her own. For the Dawes family, once factory owners and prime employers in the New England mill town, what happened to Charlotte was the beginning of the cover-up, the beginning of the end. Now a father is left shattered by his daughter's pain. A troubled mother is unable to cope. And a family is plunged into debt and disgrace as they try to bury secrets that refuse to die. The only rock that sustains them in their darkest hours is a woman whose own guilty secret has given her the power to ruin - or resurrect - the family to whom she owes her life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The characters in this labyrinthine 14th novel from perennial bestseller Plain Promises live undercover lives, each hiding a secret from the others. At the center of this web of reticence, which stretches from the mid-1980s to the present, stands Charlotte Dawes. The product of a doomed marriage between flighty Italian-born Elena and decent New England textile heir Bill, teenaged Charlotte endures first her parents' separation, then rape at the hands of a stepcousin, Ted. The evil act is even more destructive because Ted, the one villain in a noble cast, is the son of Charlotte's Aunt Claudia, a widow newly married to her father's brother, and a surrogate mother to Charlotte. Claudia has her own secret, linking the death of her first husband in Chicago and the troubles besetting the Dawes brothers at their failing mill. Although Charlotte becomes a promising architect, she remains traumatized, and it's only when she meets Roger Heywood, a builder, that she can accept physical love. The couple must survive the revelation of another shocking secret, and even a threat from Mother Nature, before their rosy future looms. Plain handles her characters' complex troubles emotional and financial with sympathy -- though sometimes with awkward shifts in point of view. She offers us one epiphany after another as the veil of secrecy is gradually lifted, and she allows Charlotte's story an affectingly muted denouement. Literary Guild main selection. July
Library Journal
Plain, who has seemingly inflicted every trauma possible on the hard-luck but resilient subjects of her best-selling novels, here tells of a brilliant young woman who is haunted by the trauma of date rape.
Washington Post
Powerful and timely.
—John Fialka
New York Times Book Review
[A] withering account of the Government's bottomless appetite for 'intelligence'....It is a dismaying tale, though Moynihan has told it with uncommon liveliness and a mordant wit.
—Sam Tanenhaus
People Magazine
Compelling...with Secrecy, Plain delivers yet again.
Kirkus Reviews
Plain returns, this time with the story of a young rape victim struggling to overcome obstacles to intimacy and true love. There's also a clammy subplot having to do with a missing person and the infiltration by the mob of an industrial site belonging to an old New England family.

Charlotte Dawes is raped at 14 by her cousin-by-marriage, the randy Ted, son of her uncle Cliff's new wife, Claudia, whose first husband was shot in—where else?—Chicago. When Charlotte becomes pregnant, then, her father and her romantic adventuress mother are wild with rage. Both are beside their daughter's bedside as she recovers from an operation for a ruptured tubal pregnancy. In the meantime, Ted continues to assault women and is finally arrested and indicted for rape and kidnapping. Home on bail, he escapes in the night. (Reports from abroad of Ted-sightings occur now and then.) Skip to Manhattan eight years later, where adult Charlotte works for an architectural firm. She loves her work but despairs of forming a firm relationship with a man, sex-shy as she is. She designs for her own pleasure a "public square" fit for the Dawes's now shuttered mill. Unfortunately, her family has inadvertently leased the mill to a polluting waste-disposal firm, to the anger of the town and the despair of the Daweses. Then Charlotte meets the dashing Roger Heywood, whose family deals in commercial real estate. Roger is not only able to come up with the ready cash to finance Charlotte's project, but (of course) coaxes her out of her trauma-related fear of sex. Finally, Claudia, trading on her late husband's mob connections, talks a boss out of retaining the mill. Looks like smooth sailing for the lovers, but disaster threatens again in the form of a flood and a potential terrible discovery.

Plain Plain (Promises, 1986, etc.), but nonetheless name- anointed for success.

From the Publisher
"Belva Plain writes with authority and integrity."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Belva Plain is in a class by herself."—New York Times

"A superb storyteller...  A talent worth remembering...  Mrs.  Plain's novels are good stories well told."— Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440225119
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 650,312
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Belva  Plain
Belva Plain captured readers' hearts with her first novel, Evergreen, which Delacorte published more than 30 years ago. It topped the New York Times best-seller list for 41 weeks and aired as an NBC-TV miniseries. In total, more than 20 of her books have been New York Times best sellers.
 
Before becoming a novelist,  Belva Plain wrote short stories for many major magazines, but taking care of a husband and three children did not give her the time to concentrate on the novel she had always wanted to write. When she looked back and said she didn't have the time, she felt as though she had been making excuses. In retrospect, she said, "I didn't make the time." But, she reminded us, during the era that she was raising her family, women were supposed to concentrate only on their children. Today 30 million copies of her books are in print.
 
A Barnard College graduate who majored in history,  Belva Plain enjoyed a wonderful marriage of more than 40 years to Irving Plain, an ophthalmologist. Widowed for more than 25 years, Ms. Plain continued to reside in New Jersey, where she and her husband had raised their family and which was still home to her nearby children and grandchildren until her death in October 2010.

Biography

Belva Plain captured readers' hearts with her first novel, Evergreen (1978), published when the author was a grandmother. It topped The New York Times bestseller list for 41 weeks and aired as an NBC-TV miniseries in 1985. In all, twenty of her novels appeared on The New York Times best-seller list.

Before she became a novelist, Belva Plain wrote short stories for many major magazines (she sold her first story to Cosmopolitan), but taking care of a husband and three children did not give her the time to concentrate on the novel she always wanted to write. In retrospect, she said, "I didn't make the time." Now, with well over 25 million copies of her books in print, translated into 22 languages, her fans can be grateful she demonstrated a better-late-than-never attitude.

A Barnard College graduate who majored in history, Belva Plain enjoyed a wonderful marriage of more than 40 years to Irving Plain, an ophthalmologist, who died in 1982. She lived most of her life in New Jersey where she and her husband raised their family. Belva Plain died at her home in October 2010. She was 95.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

Good To Know

Plain's first short story was published in Cosmopolitan magazine when she was twenty-five; her first novel was published nearly forty years later.

When she wasn't writing, Plain enjoyed opera, ballet, nature, history, dogs, and reading.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      October 9, 1915
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      October 12, 2010
    2. Place of Death:
      Short Hills, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A., Barnard College

Read an Excerpt

A door slammed so hard that the glass prisms on the hall light clashed in alarm. Someone very angry had either gone into a room or had left it. Then silence, thick and ominous, fell back. When the silence began to ring, Charlotte pulled the pillow around her ears.

They were arguing again. But they would get over it as they always did. After a while her mother, who was undoubtedly the one who had slammed the door, would quiet down. She wondered whether other people's parents lived like this.

"Childish," said Emmabrown, talking to her nephew the mailman at the front door. "Charlotte's fourteen, and she has more sense in her little finger than her mother has in her whole body."

Emmabrown—that being the name Charlotte herself had bestowed—was proud of her connection with the family; she had kept house for three generations of the Daweses, and liked to talk about their affairs. Dad was her favorite. On the telephone while Charlotte eavesdropped, she grumbled and boasted to her friends.

"I knew Bill and Cliff when those two boys were learning to talk. Bill was the smart one, good natured, too, a real pleasure. So then he goes to Europe one summer for some studies, Lord knows why you have to go there to study, but anyway he did, and comes home three months later married to this Elena, she just twenty and he twenty-two. Kids, they were. The family wasn't too happy about it, either, I can tell you. The one good thing was she's no gold digger. She's an orphan, left with a pile of money of her own. A real good-looker with a foreign accent—Italian—and a figure like a movie star. Pretty face too. Big eyes and big smile. You can seewhy he fell for her. She winds him around her little finger."

Did she really? Well, maybe. Dad didn't like to fight with people. Sometimes he didn't even answer back, which made Mama more angry. Mama. People called their mothers Mom, but she wanted to be called Mama, with the accent on the end. Silly. Stubborn. In her private thoughts Charlotte called her Elena.

It was cold, even under the quilt. She could feel the October wind coming through the walls. No, she thought then, it's not coming through the walls; the cold is inside me. It's because I'm scared, although I should be used to all this, shouldn't I?

Now there were voices in the hall, barely loud enough to be heard. Dad's voice rumbled.

"What do I do that you don't like?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing? You like everything I do? I take it you like everything about me, then?"

Laughter. "No. Oh, no."

Pause. "Oh, good God, Elena, will you open your mouth and say specifically what's wrong today? Specifically?"

"A lot of things. Nothing. I don't know."

"You really don't know anything, do you?"

"That's true. I don't know anything."

"Well, if you didn't spend all your days at the country club, you might know something. I joined for your sake, but I didn't think you were going to make a second home of the place."

"And what am I supposed to do with myself? Get elected to the Board of Education? And the Committee for the Environment? I'm not you, Bill. Those aren't my thing. I wouldn't fit."

That was true. She wouldn't fit. She not only looked different from most other girls' mothers with their sweaters and moccasins and Jeeps, but she was different. That's probably why she had no friends among the PTA ladies; they didn't like her.

But their husbands do, Charlotte thought, thinking, too, how people would be surprised if they knew how much their children noticed: glances, little greetings on a Saturday morning at the post office or at the school play.

They had gone into their room now, which was just across the hall, yet she was still able to hear. They were assuming that she was asleep.

"Get busy with worthwhile things, Elena, and you'll be happier."

"I'll be happier when I get away from this town, this city, whatever you call it. Of all the places in America, I have to end up in New England in a dying factory town. Fifteen years in this town. 'A country town,' you said, and I imagined something with charm, something like Tuscany, with vineyards and old stone houses. Fifteen years in this place."

"You've been living pretty darn well in this place."

"The winter hasn't even begun and I'm already freezing."

Dad sighed. "Oh, what the hell do you want, Elena?"

"I want to go to Florida, to rent a place for a few months."

"That's ridiculous. Charlotte has school."

"We can get tutors for her there. She'd learn more than she would here in school."

"Ridiculous!"

"We'll leave her here with Emmabrown. We could shorten our time to six weeks."

"You know all the trouble we've been having with the business. Anyway, I wouldn't leave her for six weeks, no matter what."

"All right, Bill, I may just go by myself."

"You do that."

Dad's anger had petered out, and he was tired. The door closed.

Maybe now I can sleep, Charlotte thought. Suddenly she remembered to put her hand on her heart and feel whether it was beating faster. It was. It always did, whenever they fought.

Even the night before Uncle Cliff's wedding, they had to fight. Even that day they had to spoil.


From the Audio Cassette edition.

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Interviews & Essays

On Thursday, June 12th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Belva Plain, author of SECRECY.


Sharon from Scotch PLains, NJ: Belva, are there any plans in the work to make SECRECY into a miniseries? I love both the book EVERGREEN and the miniseries

Belva Plain: Well, it's so new...as yet there are no plans. But there are some talks, who knows if they will come to fruition. I'm glad you liked EVERGREEN.



Sarah from Cardiff, CA: Do you find it difficult to write about such sensitive topics in fiction, do you research victims and their reactions to such harsh crimes?

Belva Plain: I do research to a great extent particularly when I write about something that has happened outside my time. I don't talk to victims, but I do a great deal of reading. You don't have to have experienced something to write about it, but you do need to imagine yourself in the position of that character and hope that you have the right interpretation -- your readers will tell you if you have.



TRACY from MIAMI: Belva, I love your stories, I was just curious if you have written any non-fiction of if you plan on writing any non-fiction?

Belva Plain: No, Tracy. Well, I won't say never. I have written some historical articles about New Jersey -- but those are minor things, fundamentally I am a fiction writer.



Fran from New York City: Belva, Charlotte had quite an encounter in her youth . . . being an author who writes about such a sensitive topic, what is your opinion of the book THE KISS I hope you are familiar with this book

Belva Plain: I'm sorry I haven't read it, though I have read about it. And I must say it was astonishing that she had the courage to write it, let alone go through with it. I have immense respect for her, and I must get around to reading it when I'm done doing so much writing.



Paul from New York, NY: Good evening Belva, I was just curious to find out if you read reviews of your books and do care what book reviewers have to say about your work?

Belva Plain: I haven't read any reviews about this one, but I've read many in my time. Of course I care about what people say about my writing, and of course I love to read the good ones, but I don't pay much attention to the bad ones, not too much anyway. Everyone is different and has different opinions.



Rachelle Burke from Collegetown: Do you ever find it difficult to relate to younger audiences? How have things changed since you first started writing?

Belva Plain: I'm happy to say that I think I do relate well with younger relations, I have grand children, several younger friends and most importantly a desire to keep up with life. And I think I do well, I see people reading my books in the library and book stores, so I think they like it. It's a different world than the one that existed before the thirties, there have been enormous changes, the women's movement, and I try to keep up with it all, and I think I do a pretty good job.



Stephanie from CINCINNATTI, OH: Thanks for being here Belva! Are your stories ever based on real life experiences? They always seem so real!

Belva Plain: I do thank you for saying that. That's what every writer wants to hear. They are based on living experiences, overheard conversations, newspapers, that's the idea of being a fiction writer, hearing ends of a story and using your imagination to make them come to life. I'm glad to say that what happens in SECRECY is not part of my life -- you'll know what I mean when you read it.



Amy from Charlotte, NC: Ms. Plain. What do you think about such writers as Camille Paglia who believe that date rape is largely the fault of the girl who 'gets herself into the situation by not using her common sense.' You know, doing things like going to a guys room drunk after a fraternity party and the like? Is it then the girls fault if she does something stupid like that?

Belva Plain: I think yes, when you give an example like that. She's looking for trouble. But many girls have been date raped in very different situations, sometimes it's the girl's fault and sometimes it's not, it's hard to condemn anyone who's had such an experience.



Johnny from Soho New York: In 198O you won a Bestseller Award for RANDOM WINDS, did that Award change your style of writing or how you go about coming up with ideas for novels?

Belva Plain: The award did not change the way I write. I write the way I speak, I write in airplanes, wherever I see ideas, expressions, the world is full of ideas. It's like what painters do, a thousand painters look at the same tree and all come up with different drawings, paintings, etc.



Lex from NY: You are such a prolific author. How much time do you take to research the period and the geographical nuances in order to bring it to 'life'?

Belva Plain: It depends what the subject is. If I'm writing about a period when I wasn't alive, then I have to do a lot of research. I spend a of of time and have a lot of fun in the process. When I write about a contemporary subject then I don't have to do much research because it's happening all around me.



Marlene G. from Boston, Mass: How much planning do you... put into your books before you write them? Are you ever surprised by the way your stories end up?

Belva Plain: I plan the whole thing, I'm never surprised -- I know just how it ends before I put pen to paper. I have it all outlined before I ever start. You know when you get in a car where you hope to end up.



Lucille from North Carolina: Hello, Belva! If you had to categorize your novels, what would you call them?

Belva Plain: Oh dear, it's very hard to categorize them. I would say they are popular novels, they won't be read three hundred years from now. They are written with a great affection for the English language, I like my people to be real so readers will say, that's how I feel sometimes. When I do that I am pleased and very happy I was able to do it.



Daphne from Cooperstown: Which classic writers are you inspired by? Do you worry that Americans seem to be reading less and less?

Belva Plain: I haven't seen any statistics that say Americans aren't reading. When I walk into the superstores I see tons of people buying books -- more so than ever before. I wouldn't use the word inspired because that implies that you try to be like them, but the ones I enjoy...the people who wrote big fat novels, like Dickens, Trollope. These you can put on any main street and they are alive, you don't get tired of them.



RHONDA from Belva Plains, USA: Belva, I love your books!!!! Just wanted to know how long it usually takes you to write a book from beginning to end???

Belva Plain: Thank you for loving them...most of the time a year to a year and a half.



Pancy from Ohio: Mrs. Plain, I have read all of your books and I think you are a very talented writer. Does writing ability run in your family?

Belva Plain: Yes I think it does, I have a daughter who is doing some very good writing on artists like Mary Cassatt, as for my grandparents I've yet to find out.



Dawn from Seattle, WA: Hi Belva, I loved SECRECY, are you currently working on another book and can you tease us with what it's about?

Belva Plain: I'm glad you loved SECRECY -- you sure don't waste anytime, it just came out. I can't reveal too much about my current novel...it starts at the end of the Second World War, some of it takes place here, some in Europe, but I can't give anything else away.



Francine Merrill from Lake Park, FLA: Do you use a computer Belva? What do you think of live events on the internet?

Belva Plain: I think this is wonderful, this is my first experience, and I'm enjoying it. I don't use a computer but that's not to say that I don't think they are important. I write my novels first in longhand, it's much more comfortable than sitting upright. For me and for a good many other writers it's more comfortable to do it the old-fashioned way.



gloria from atlanta: How long did it take to write SECRECY?

Belva Plain: It took one year, I don't rush because I work slowly and I do one draft -- make very few corrections, and that takes a very long time.



Tim from East Hanover, NJ: Belva, I was just curious how you got into writing and if you weren't such an accomplished writer, what would you want to do for a living?

Belva Plain: Well, if I weren't a writer I would like to be a pianist or a ballerina, or a painter laughing however, I do what I can do and I'm glad I can do it. I think I always just liked to do it, before I reached high school I was writing, and I love it.



Theressa from Concord, CA: I am a huge fan.... Just curious to find out if your are doing a reading tour for SECRECY? If so are you coming to San Francisco?

Belva Plain: I am coming to San Francisco on the 18th -- which is next week. I'll be in some bookstores which will be advertised. If you'll come and say hello I'll be delighted.



Daniel from Boston: Every time I am web surfing I see find people that have you listed with Daniel Steele as their favorite authors. Do you know Danielle Steele? And do you think that your style of writing is similar enough to consistently be grouped in with Steele?

Belva Plain: I don't know her, I've not had the pleasure, she lives on the other side of the country. I'm not sure if our styles are the same, but it's nice to be grouped with someone who is so greatly loved.



RLB Hartmann from near Asheville NC: Do you use a computer? Also, I'd like to know a little about how the miniseries came about. Did you have an agent, or were you approached by someone in tv?

Belva Plain: You see anyone on television will get in touch with your agent and your agent will take care of everything. We've come to the end and it's been very pleasant for me, I hope the audience has enjoyed themselves. With that -- good night!



Moderator: Thanks for joining us this evening for Belva Plain's discussion of her latest, SECRECY. We hope you enjoyed the chat. Buy the book! Have a good night.

Belva Plain:


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    Dew

    Paced in.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    Reaper

    Ok

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2014

    Eagleblaze to bloodmoon and coldstar

    Hi bloodmoon and whos this

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2014

    Bloodmoon

    Hehe. Sorry. Hes just beimg curious. Whenever Im on hes always happy to see me. He likes to stick to my side and be with me. And thank you Coldstar and good luck with Lastclan!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    Featherflight

    If you wish to stay in BloodClan, then BloodClan.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Nightsky

    Hi.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Dangers of Secrets

    This book revolved around the secrets of a family. Each person's secret affected everyone. It was an enjoyable book to read and was pleased with the ending.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Kitty

    Kurt ur locked out go to the next res

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Books should be checked before sending

    I received this book and when I got around to read it, lo and behold, it started on Page 45. I am trying to piece together what lead up to this Page 45. Very disappointed!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2004

    Delightful

    Totally not what I expected when I picked this book up, but it turned out to be a great read. The bonds of blood can make us do the things we never thought possible or go to extremes for loved ones. I definitely reccomend this book to everyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2000

    Worth reading...

    I enjoyed this book very much. I thought the characters were believable, and the plot interesting. There were some slow moments. Charlotte was not unlike many young women who find themselves pregnant...and 14. I especially enjoyed the way the story ended...with a sudden surprise, that caught me off guard. JK

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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