The Mortimers are celebrating Jeanie and Harry’s golden wedding anniversary when Frankie Carlyle, the daughter from a secret fling Harry had 35 years ago, arrives to meet her father for the first time. From that explosive beginning, Something to Tell You settles down into a collection of disparate narrative threads about various women in the Carlyle and Mortimer families, all dealing with a range of relationship issues.
Jeanie heads off into her second honeymoon alone to deal with the revelation of Harry’s past infidelity. Her daughter Paula is struggling to keep her father afloat and their family together, while also nurturing her own curiosity about her newfound half-sister. Jeanie’s daughter-in-law Robyn finds her husband becoming increasingly distant and wonders if he’s hiding something from her, and Jeanie’s other daughter-in-law Bunny realizes that a horrible secret from her past may be exposed. Frankie’s complex emotions about finally meeting her father are somewhat overshadowed by problems in her current family — the birth mother of her boyfriend’s child is suing for custody. And Robyn’s mother Alison, trying to move on from her grief over her husband’s passing, decides to try online dating.
There’s a lot going on in this novel, and Diamond does a good job in making us care for all of her characters. Frankie’s appearance at Harry and Jeanie’s party sets off a chain of events, but the story of her parentage ultimately has a major impact on only one out of many narrative threads. For the most part, it’s a dramatic reveal that then takes a bit of a back seat to a lot of other events. Which isn’t a bad thing — the discovery of a secret daughter could very well turn the story melodramatic, and by dispersing our attention into various women’s stories, Diamond does a good job of making the stories feel real.
Unfortunately, the stories also felt somewhat detached. I did care for a lot of the characters, but because the stories were so disjointed and the focus switched around so often, I ended up wishing we’d spent a bit more time to really delve into some of the characters. Partly, I think it’s because the main story was clearly Frankie’s, and I personally found Jeanie’s (her husband’s infidelity leading her to rebel), Robyn’s (learning her husband’s keeping secrets from her) and Alison’s (trying online dating as a senior) stories all much more compelling than Frankie’s (custody battle with her boyfriend’s ex).
Still, this is a pleasant and enjoyable read overall. The characters all felt very real and relatable, and the novel tackled some difficult experiences without ever getting too heavy in tone.
Thank you to Publisher’s Group Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.