The Safety of Secrets

The Safety of Secrets

by DeLaune Michel

Paperback(Reprint)

$13.95
View All Available Formats & Editions

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060817367
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/27/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Raised in south Louisiana, DeLauné Michel has worked as an actor and is the founding producer of Spoken Interludes, a reading series in New York and Los Angeles. Her short fiction has won awards. This is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

The Safety of Secrets

Chapter One

I think I might be pregnant. And today is Mother's Day.

The only other time that I was pregnant, I found out last Halloween, so maybe my body is particularly fertile two weeks before a holiday. Because I read in this book that no matter how many days a woman's cycle is from ovulation to the first day of her period is exactly two weeks. Which seems kind of wonderful and yet odd to me for it to be that guaranteed. Though comforting, too, that amid all the chaos of life, inside every woman's body is this exquisite and punctual rhythm that is the same for us all. Like in that way at least, we're even.

That other pregnancy didn't work out, but I guess that is obvious or I wouldn't be wondering if I am pregnant now. Sometimes I imagine that Halloween was to blame for its ending since I found out on a day so connected with the dead—but also to my ancestry, actually.

The Irish brought the custom of Halloween to America in the mid-1840s when so many of them were fleeing their country's potato famine. Not that my relatives came then. They left Waterford, Ireland, in 1833; landed in Quebec; then made their way down to Corpus Christi, Texas, until "Indian hostilities," as my mother calls it, forced them to leave and they settled in Opelousas, Louisiana, then finally decades later, Lake Charles, where I grew up and celebrated Halloween.

The ancient origin of which was the belief that on that day disembodied spirits of those who had died in the previous year came back in search of living bodies to possess. They thought it was their only hope for an afterlife, so all laws of time and space weresuspended, allowing spirits to intermingle with the living. But the living didn't want to intermingle with them, didn't want to be possessed, so they extinguished their home fires and dressed up in hideous clothes to frighten the spirits away. Neither of which my recently conceived baby was able to do, and I didn't know to do, so maybe it got possessed.

And that is as good an explanation as the one my doctor gave me, which basically was that some just don't make it. For two weeks, the ultrasound kept showing that I was five to six weeks pregnant, but a heartbeat never appeared. A missed miscarriage is what Dr. Walker called it, meaning my body didn't get the message that the pregnancy wasn't going forward, so it stayed stuck in this blossom like some frozen flower in a bowl that at first looks great, but then is sickening to see since it will never fully bloom.

Though after that pregnancy was over, Dr. Walker assured me that I am fine. "Honey, you two are where I'm trying to get most of the couples that see me to be," she said.

I was sitting in her office in the West Tower Medical Building of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills for the follow-up appointment after my D & C, which I still wasn't really sure what that stood for. "Dice and cut" is all I could think of, like B & E for "breaking and entering," because that is how it felt.

I was surrounded by a swarm of baby pictures on the bookcases, on the desk, on the walls, all the successful fruits of her and her patients' labor. I looked at Dr. Walker. She looked as if she could play one on TV—that pretty. Blonde and sweet. A face you want to come to, like the Giant Casting Director in the sky had ordained her calling. And she was a real doctor, after all, renowned, even. So it was easy to believe her.

I left her office, and I was fine.

I got outside, got in my car, and was sitting stuck on Third Street, a thoroughfare that not so long ago used to be if not barely used then at least Plan C for how to get west or east, but now is almost as bad as Beverly. I wished for the thousandth time that about a million people in L.A. would leave when suddenly it hit me that the city's population was not going to increase by one next summer because of my husband and me, since we were no longer going to have this baby.

And I was sort of shocked, as if I was finally understanding that the pregnancy was over. Not that I didn't know it was over, but the appointment for the D & C had kept it alive in a (okay, major denial) sort of way since they were related to the baby. But now there weren't any more reasons to see Dr. Walker, until another pregnancy. And when would that be?

Immediately, I could hear my mother's voice in my head when I told her it was over. "Oh, Fiona, honey. That's just terrible. How are you holding up?" Even though my mother was all the way down in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the same home that I grew up in, she could have been phoning from inside my body. Her voice has always sounded like that to me, as if I've been carrying her around in me my whole life, like some terribly odd and inappropriate pregnancy that I'll never deliver.

"There is nothing worse than a miscarriage," my mother went on. "Not that I ever had one. Or would have. I got my family's good Connor genes, but your father's sisters, as you know, each had multiple miscarriages. It's a wonder you have any cousins on his side at all. Well, you'll just try again; that's all. And it'll be fine. I'm sure of it. Though why you waited so long in the first place I'll never understand."

I had planned to move the phone repeatedly away from and back to my ear while she spoke the way I have for the past few years, sort of like one of the arm exercises I do at the gym, but my mother's opening lines were so promising that I got hooked in and listened to the whole goddamn thing.

The Safety of Secrets. Copyright © by DeLaune Michel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Peter Biskind

“At once funny, moving, and richly evocative of contemporary Los Angeles, The Safety of Secrets more than confirms its promise.”

Warren Leight

“The Safety of Secrets is a funny, keenly observed, deeply moving story of coming of age too soon. DeLauné Michel’s elegantly structured novel jumps back and forth between an imperfect childhood in Louisiana, and a complicated adulthood in Los Angeles. .”

Jill A. Davis

“DeLauné Michel has written a terrifically funny book with a very tender heart. It manages to be wonderfully confessional and psychologically mysterious. The Safety of Secrets is the perfect curl-up-on-the-couch-and-read-all-day-long kind of book. It stays with you.”

Merrill Markoe

“a beautifully written book that takes you into the mind of a woman attempting the impossible; trying to make marriage, motherhood, friendship and a career as an actress all work in the gladiatorial ring of Los Angeles. DeLauné Michel writes with the precision and insight of an x-ray.”

Dani Shapiro

Written with tremendous narrative velocity, The Safety of Secrets is almost impossible to put down.

Cathleen Schine

Funny and touching, this is a tale of childhood—and how it never ends.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Safety of Secrets 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Renda_Brooks More than 1 year ago
Delaune Michel creates a captivating tale in The Safety of Secrets. Fiona and Patricia have been friends since grade school in Louisiana. Their friendship strengthens and follows them to Los Angeles where Fiona and Patricia become actresses. The pressure of Hollywood life and a secret threaten the friendship and what they have struggled to accomplish. Fiona and Patricia are forced to look upon their friendship, relationships with others, and themselves. The story goes between present day and the past, allowing the reader to witness the heart wrenching past of the two girls. Their pact to keep the secret begins to unravel and the threat to their long-term friendship is all too real. In my opinion, this is a real life look into the characteristics of the bond of friendship. It is something we all face at some point in our lives. I found Delaune's description of the South and Los Angeles to be right on. All in all this is a great story of the roller coaster relationship of friends.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Meeting Delaune Michel at her book-signing was like making a new friend. And reading her book, "The Safety of Secrets," was like making another. The story is told in present tense by a first person narrator called Fiona - and no; there is really no other way it could be told. Fiona is the reader's new friend, narrating her life story, just as it happens. When we first meet, Fiona is just finding out that she's pregnant. Of course, the first person she tells is her best friend. We, the readers, are probably third or fourth on her list, since her husband has to be second. And we have to keep it secret because - well, she'll explain. The trouble is, the best friend doesn't react quite how Fiona hopes. And while Fiona's telling us this, she's also saying how they met and why they're best friends. In fact, a lot of what Fiona reveals is told while telling something else. It's not confusing; it's just how she is. She gets side-tracked and wanders off in random directions, but she always leads the way back and makes her point before the end of the chapter, and she always sounds real. I like the way the chapters are self-contained - convenient when I have to stop and walk the dog, cook dinner, or find the shirt that I forgot to wash - and natural, like conversations with a friend. I like the way the focus in each chapter is always something that's just happening, giving the story a real immediacy. Fiona's an actress who lives and works in Hollywood. It's exciting, and it's a world I'll never know, so I feel awed to have a friend describe it to me. I forgive the tangents and diversions because it's such fun being Fiona's friend. And when I begin to suspect she's not terribly sympathetic - maybe a bit self-centered - when I begin to wonder what she's saying to her friends about me - that's when Delaune so cleverly also lets me recognize Fiona's need, and the way the words and stories are hiding secrets she hasn't yet told. As a reader, or friend, I start to understand Fiona just as she begins to understand herself. I feel like I know what she's going through, and I want to help her out. But she'll never listen to me I know, so I read on to an end that's satisfying, true to life and true to what the reader wants for her. I remember Delaune saying she didn't know how the novel would end when she started to write. I believe her. After all, Fiona couldn't possibly have known, and it's Fiona who's telling the tale. Nobody's pulling her strings to make things happen. But she's pregnant, and secrets have a way of forcing their way into the light at such a time. "The Safety of Secrets" is a very believable book, an enjoyable read, a thought-provoking concept, and a tale of everyday friendship, secrets and courage. I'm glad I read it. And I'm glad I met Fiona (and Delaune).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Can't-put-it-down readable with a secret at its core, this book is a sensitive, canny portrayal of a decades-long friendship. It works as a great beach read because of Michel's funny insights into the Hollywood actors scene, but like an iceberg, it has unexpected solidity under the surface. It's depth snuck up on me. It's an atypical coming-of-age story in that rather than simply covering the familiar territory of the jump from girl-to-woman it explores the maturity that is required to jump from young-woman-to-mother. The crisis in the main character Fiona's relationship with her childhood friend Patricia, coming at the same time as the birth of Fiona's first child, enables Fiona to step into her true female adulthood--to access the maturity required to be a stable and loving example to her baby. Having witnessed Fiona's journey into unconditional love and forgiveness, we are assured that her child will be protected from at least some of the pain and tragedy that Patricia and Fiona endured. I loved it from the beginning to the sweet and moving last page. Read it!
SheilaDeeth on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Meeting Delaune Michel at her book-signing was like making a new friend. And reading her book, The Safety of Secrets, was like making another. The story is told in present tense by a first person narrator called Fiona ¿ and no; there is really no other way it could be told. Fiona is the reader¿s new friend, narrating her life story, just as it happens.When we first meet, Fiona is just finding out that she¿s pregnant. Of course, the first person she tells is her best friend. We, the readers, are probably third or fourth on her list, since her husband has to be second. And we have to keep it secret because ¿ well, she¿ll explain.The trouble is, the best friend doesn¿t react quite how Fiona hopes. And while Fiona¿s telling us this, she¿s also saying how they met and why they¿re best friends. In fact, a lot of what Fiona reveals is told while telling something else. It¿s not confusing; it¿s just how she is. She gets side-tracked and wanders off in random directions, but she always leads the way back and makes her point before the end of the chapter, and she always sounds real.I like the way the chapters are self-contained ¿ convenient when I have to stop and walk the dog, cook dinner, or find the shirt that I forgot to wash ¿ and natural, like conversations with a friend. I like the way the focus in each chapter is always something that¿s just happening, giving the story a real immediacy.Fiona¿s an actress who lives and works in Hollywood. It¿s exciting, and it¿s a world I¿ll never know, so I feel awed to have a friend describe it to me. I forgive the tangents and diversions because it¿s such fun being Fiona¿s friend. And when I begin to suspect she¿s not terribly sympathetic ¿ maybe a bit self-centered ¿ when I begin to wonder what she¿s saying to her friends about me ¿ that¿s when Delaune so cleverly also lets me recognize Fiona¿s need, and the way the words and stories are hiding secrets she hasn¿t yet told.As a reader, or friend, I start to understand Fiona just as she begins to understand herself. I feel like I know what she¿s going through, and I want to help her out. But she¿ll never listen to me I know, so I read on to an end that¿s satisfying, true to life and true to what the reader wants for her.I remember Delaune saying she didn¿t know how the novel would end when she started to write. I believe her. After all, Fiona couldn¿t possibly have known, and it¿s Fiona who¿s telling the tale. Nobody¿s pulling her strings to make things happen. But she¿s pregnant, and secrets have a way of forcing their way into the light at such a time.The Safety of Secrets is a very believable book, an enjoyable read, a thought-provoking concept, and a tale of everyday friendship, secrets and courage. I¿m glad I read it. And I¿m glad I met Fiona (and Delaune).
Kanellio on LibraryThing 9 months ago
In the same vein as Firefly Lane and Beaches, THE SAFETY OF SECRETS is a true to life story of the enduring friendship of two women. It tells how their childhood bond is tested as they mature and their values and loyalties are formed and lives change. Fiona and Patricia meet in first grade in Louisiana and their family lifestyles are different as Fiona comes from a ¿normal¿ family with two parents and a sister, while Patricia is raised by a single mother who has an older son from a previous marriage. Both of the girls¿ youth is greatly influenced by their mothers with Fiona¿s mother being abusive, while Patricia¿s mom neglects her. The girls experience a trauma young in their lives and they agree to keep it a secret for life. Fiona and Patricia grow up and both pursue acting careers, and they are both successful in their own way. However, Fiona marries and has a baby while having a moderately successful and steady television career compared to Patricia¿s wild celebrity life filled with all the bells and whistles the paparazzi is crazy for. The chapters alternate between the past as children and their current lives as adults, and thus the story slowly unfolds little by little until the ¿secret¿ that is alluded to finally is revealed. However, the way it happens is what brings us to the climax of the story and forces Fiona and Patricia to face the truth of that secret and the ramifications it has played in their lives for years. Fiona comes to realize how much the secret and her mother intertwined to make her the person she is today. Will Fiona¿s and Patricia¿s friendship be able to endure this explosive revelation? How will this affect their current relationships and especially the ones with their mothers? The Safety of Secrets is relatable and one that will have the reader taking sides and staying glued to the story until the end to find out what the secret is. The reader will want to find out what the secret does to Fiona¿s and Patricia¿s adult lives and those they now care about. I found the story to be an interesting, well written, believable tale of two women and their friendship.
tibobi on LibraryThing 9 months ago
The Safety of Secrets is about friends Fiona and Patricia and how they cope with a secret from their childhood. Working as successful actresses in Hollywood, their lives are filled with work and husbands and memories that they share. After Fiona learns that she is pregnant..she begins to evaluate the relationship she had with her own mother and tries to come to terms with things that happened to her as a child.The author does a good job of describing adolescent angst, but as adults..the characters seemed a bit flat. Especially the character of Patricia. I wanted to see the adult relationships explored a bit more especially once we are told what the secret is. There just didn't seem to be a lot of interaction between Fiona and Patricia once they were adults. I think it is assumed that because they were such good friends as children, that their friendship remains strong even without the interaction, but the actions of Patricia make me doubt that.Although it was an easy read, I was left wanting more. I received this copy from the Harper Collins First Look program and it includes a reader's guide. After reviewing some of the questions in the guide, I can see this as a good choice for a book group as there is a lot to discuss.
picklechic on LibraryThing 9 months ago
I really enjoyed The Safety of Secrets. It is the story of a woman, Fiona, who has been friends with her best friend, Patricia, since first grade. They share a secret of something horrible that happened to them as children, but despite that, have maintained their relationship into adulthood. Now their past comes back to haunt them and one of them betrays the other by telling their childhood secret. I really enjoyed the character of Fiona. She was down to earth, despite living among the plastic in LA. I identified with her because she was pregnant after having had a previous miscarriage and, having been in that situation, I felt Michel got the feelings and fear that go along with that right on. I wasn't too fond of Patricia and at times I wondered why Fiona remained her friend, but in the end I understood. Fiona's feelings as a new mother and facing her issues with her own mother were real and I identified with her easily. Overall I thought it was a very good book. It was an easy read and most of it was funny, light material, despite dealing with some serious issues. I would recommend this book to any woman, because I think any woman can identify with the character of Fiona and learn from her mistakes. 4 stars.
mckait on LibraryThing 9 months ago
This is a story about two young women who grew up together, both from dysfunctional families.Patricia and Fiona met in first grade and became best friends. It was a friendship that endured throughout childhood, and even through both working in the dog eat dog world of acting. They were two little girls who learned to help each other through all of the bad times, and to share all of the good times. But life often finds a way to come between the best of friends. This is a story of how Patricia and Fiona find their way through life changing events, and what happens in their friendship in the end. This book is entertaining, the characters endearing and real. Some of us will find ourselves knowing just how the experiences described felt for us, others will wish they had a friend just like one of these women. And some will smile, knowing that they do. I enjoyed this book. It is more than chic lit, it is a story for women about women. I would recommend it to a friend.
pak6th on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Fiona has an abusive mother who punishes her in odd ways, once making her dress like a boy. Patricia has an neglectful mother who is always leaving her at Fiona's house. The girls are best friends from 1st grade but now they are adults and both are actresses. When Patricia marries, a person from the past appears at the wedding reception and upsets them both challenging their friendship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*kisses u moaning *
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the same vein as Firefly Lane and Beaches, THE SAFETY OF SECRETS is a true to life story of the enduring friendship of two women. It tells how their childhood bond is tested as they mature and their values and loyalties are formed and lives change. Fiona and Patricia meet in first grade in Louisiana and their family lifestyles are different as Fiona comes from a ¿normal¿ family with two parents and a sister, while Patricia is raised by a single mother who has an older son from a previous marriage. Both of the girls¿ youth is greatly influenced by their mothers with Fiona¿s mother being abusive, while Patricia¿s mom neglects her. The girls experience a trauma young in their lives and they agree to keep it a secret for life. Fiona and Patricia grow up and both pursue acting careers, and they are both successful in their own way. However, Fiona marries and has a baby while having a moderately successful and steady television career compared to Patricia¿s wild celebrity life filled with all the bells and whistles the paparazzi is crazy for. The chapters alternate between the past as children and their current lives as adults, and thus the story slowly unfolds little by little until the ¿secret¿ that is alluded to finally is revealed. However, the way it happens is what brings us to the climax of the story and forces Fiona and Patricia to face the truth of that secret and the ramifications it has played in their lives for years. Fiona comes to realize how much the secret and her mother intertwined to make her the person she is today. Will Fiona¿s and Patricia¿s friendship be able to endure this explosive revelation? How will this affect their current relationships and especially the ones with their mothers? The Safety of Secrets is relatable and one that will have the reader taking sides and staying glued to the story until the end to find out what the secret is. The reader will want to find out what the secret does to Fiona¿s and Patricia¿s adult lives and those they now care about. I found the story to be an interesting, well written, believable tale of two women and their friendship.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maybe it's because I'm in the midst of deciding what to do about one of my own old relationships that this book hit me so hard. Like Fiona in the book, I'm struggling with a friendship that has emerged as a two-headed hydra--and that's what Michel gets at so trenchantly: just how difficult it is to maintain a long-standing friendship and to keep that monster the ego from taking over and sucking every bit of air out of the garden. Oh, and the mother is quite a piece of work, too. Michel is a pull-no-punches kind of writer with a terrific way with a metaphor. SAFETY OF SECRETS reads like a thriller, the pacing is so taut, and in fact there is a very real crime committed within its pages. In Michel's hands this scene is both subtle and crushing. A lessor writer would have yielded to its prurient potential Michel instead reveals her power to pull us deep into the character's feelings. A compelling read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
They met a quarter of a century ago as first graders in Lake Charles, Louisiana over a pair of socks. Fiona Marshall and Patricia Woods became friends with both eluding odious mothers. Whereas Fiona¿s mother was abusive, Patricia¿s was negligent. They left Bayou country soon after high school to make it in Hollywood.---------------- Each was married and divorced they survived the Hollywood night culture that has destroyed so many young. Both share a secret that no one else knows until now. Twenty-five years of best friend sisterhood may end with that secret revealed. Fiona and Patricia reexamine their friendship, other relationships over the years, and the difficult realities that have surfaced for them.----------------- The story line moves back and forth between the present and past in Southern California and their childhood in Louisiana as events today have the lead females looking back in time. Fiona and Patricia are fully developed characters, but it is their deep friendship forged back in elementary school that Michael DeLaune focuses on. Though loving best friends who would do anything for the other, with warmth and caring comes hurts and anger. Healthy relationships have a down side to them even when they are mostly loving, upbeat, and supportive. THE SAFETY OF SECRETS is a deep character study that will leave readers examining their strongest relationships.------------ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stee arrows come fewer