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Family Secrets    by Judith Henry Wall order for
Family Secrets
by Judith Henry Wall
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

The Wentworth sisters are still struggling with the death of their beloved father even though it has been over a year since it happened. They have come to the family apartment to celebrate their mother Penelope's sixtieth birthday. They are not expecting the shocking news that she delivers to them. She's going to sell everything and move to France to live with a man she has met and who has made her very happy.

Vanessa, the eldest, takes the news the hardest. They have not even met this man, and she feels the family structure dissolving. She is coping with her own unhappy marriage, a stagnant job, and two young daughters to raise. Ellie, single and an associate editor for a fashion magazine, is more accepting of their mother's decision, as is Georgiana, also single and doing hand and foot modeling. There is tension already between the sisters as Vanessa does not approve of the others' lifestyles and makes it known to them. While helping Penelope pack up the apartment, the sisters come across an old letter in a family Bible. They discover that their paternal grandmother did not die in childbirth as they were told. This letter starts the sisters on a quest to find their family roots. Penelope gives the sisters money for a trip so they can spend time together and grow closer. After finding leads, they head to Montana and begin their search for their grandmother Hattie.

Hattie is now a very wealthy woman who has changed her childhood name. She has come a long way from the dirt poor girl struggling for an existence with her parents. She now has a grown family of her own and family secrets she does not want to surface. Her years of hard work could be destroyed and she could lose everything. When Vanessa, Ellie, and Georgiana realize they have found their grandmother they are overjoyed - but they do not find a sweet, loving grandmother ready to welcome them into the family. Soon the sisters know they have made a mistake in seeking out their heritage and we are left to question what really did happen to Hattie. Family Secrets is another good read from Wall who never fails to deliver.

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