The Things We Knew – Catherine West – Thomas Nelson – Published 12 July 2016
After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.
But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother’s best friend and Lynette’s first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can’t.
But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.
As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.
A mysterious and compelling story, The Things We Knew mixes romance with intrigue in this novel of family secrets.
While I found the start of this story a bit slow, it wasn’t long before I was drawn into Lynette’s story. I quickly came to realise that Lynette has a lot on her plate, working long hours, caring for an ailing father, practically out of money, a huge house to look after after her many siblings have moved away to follow their own dreams and doubts about lost memories that haunt her. We also know that she has some sort of history with Nick, her neighbour who has just moved back home. The first few interactions between Nick and Lynette don’t tell us much about their history or the tourmoil that has sprouted between their families. There are so many mysteries and secrets between these siblings and friends, and it has torn families and friendships apart. But Lynette’s father’s health decline, means the Carlisle siblings will have to return to their family home, where the truth will finally be revealed, relationships mended and hopefully some love stories continued.
I loved the insight we get into so many different characters in Things We Knew. I never found it confusing, despite the many characters as they were all so clearly defined and alive. I know some of the characters are already on their way to happy endings, but I would love to read their stories in their own books and continue the journey with this hurting, healing family.
The whole novel is very mysterious and it is very well constructed to build the suspense. There are a lot of unanswered questions and pasts that are shrouded in mystery and it only got more intriguing as I read. In the end I really fell in love with this family and their friends, especially Nick and Gray.
The undertone of faith plays a small but poignant role in the story, with characters at varying steps in their faith journeys. But the similarity with them all was forgiveness and hope for the future. The setting is rugged and wind blown. I could almost smell the sea spray and feel the storm rolling in. It was the perfect setting for this story of family secrets, romance and mystery. I was impressed with this novel and would recommend it to readers of both contemporary novels and mystery thrillers. I look forward to reading what Catherine West delivers next.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Family, secrets, romance, artists, adultery, mystery, drug and alcohol addiction.
Published: 12 July 2016 by Thomas Nelson.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 320 pages.