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Secret Lives

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  6,217 ratings  ·  502 reviews
Actress Eden Riley's decision to make a film about her mother plunges her into a shattering confrontation with her own past, irrevocably altering her life and the lives of those she loves. Her mother, Katherine Swift, was a renowned children's author who died when Eden was very young. Now Eden, recovering from a divorce and disillusioned with her glamorous life, returns to ...more
Kindle Edition, 487 pages
Published June 22nd 2010 (first published 1991)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  6,217 ratings  ·  502 reviews

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You can definitely tell that this is one of Diane Chamberlain first books, that’s not to say it’s not good because it is but it’s not as polished as her more recent stories. I enjoyed the story line, the way all the individual plot lines are woven together, it’s almost seamless. And while this book felt a bit raw, I felt I could see just how far the author has come in her writing and I loved that insight.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-fiction
This book was just okay for me. The narrator did a really great job, especially with all the southern accents, but that alone wasn't enough to save this from a 2 star rating.

The story was about some tough subjects involving a very young girl, and about an adult woman finding out her mother's secrets. This story has been done before and I'm not sure this one stands out in any special way. It was just "Meh."

I had quite a few problems with this. The biggest one was with the characters. The author
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, read-in-2010
This is one of the few books that I can say was nearly impossible to put down. Almost from the beginning, I was transfixed by the world of Eden and then of Kate. Both of these female characters were written wonderfully and believably - so much so that even being able to guess most of what transpires in the novel prior to it happening doesn't diminish the quality of the book at all. I really loved how Diane grafted Kate's story along with Eden's - so much more original than the typical flashback ...more
Pauline Tilbe
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I didn't realize when I bought this discounted book for my Kindle that it was originally published in the early 90's. But it explains the lack of cellphones and I was suspicious of the "word processor" mentioned throughout the book. Small detail in a big story.
The secrets in this book are haunting and yet beautiful too. Eden returns to her childhood home to create a screenplay about her mother. She knows her mother was troubled, she knew her for such a short time that research is required...and
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.0 out of 5 stars -- I have read and enjoyed a couple of Diane Chamberlain's more recent novels: THE LIES WE TOLD and THE SECRET LIFE OF CEECEE WILKES. Today I made the mistake of going to a title on this author's backlist -- and was very disappointed in this book. NO NO NO, I said to myself, I am not reading a Jodi Picoult book so why is this author channeling her, manipulating me and giving me what I feared most -- the most obvious, ridiculous and unoriginal solution to a problem. I saw it co ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diane Chamberlain sent me this signed copy of her book that has just been published in paperback in the UK. It was originally published in 1991. I thought I may not enjoy this as much as her newer novels, but I loved it just as much. It is the story of Eden Riley, a famous actress, who goes to visit her Uncle & Aunt at the childhood home of her mother. Eden's mother, Kate, was a children's author who suffered from agoraphobia, and died when Eden was very young. Eden intends to write a screenplay ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read an interview of Diane not that long ago. She said that one of her favorite novels that she wrote was this one (her third novel) because she felt as if she found her voice with starting with this one. She also said it had personal meaning for her because one of the characters has agoraphobia, which she has also struggled with. This was a page turner for me. I was really drawn into the story, but some of the sexual stuff was too much for me. I also guessed two of the surprises long before t ...more
Trish at Between My Lines
Emotional, riveting and romantic. Diane Chamberlain knows how to catch your attention with intriguing characters and unique situations. Love it!

Wow, what a story ! Diane Chamberlain, in my opinion is a master of character development. She’s also one of a very few authors I’ve found who can weave a story and a backstory and have one be just as exciting and engaging as the other and I think of all of her books, this is the best example of that. The backstory is told through a journal, showing the characters development from young teen to a new mom...the journal itself even progresses from hillbilly young grammar to flowing intelligent sto
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eden Riley, a famous actress decides to write a screenplay for a movie about her eccentric mother, a famous children’s author. Eden’s mother, Katherine mysteriously died when Eden was 11. This journey takes her to the hills of Virginia where she is looking forward to leaving the glitz and glamour of Hollywood behind. Within days she starts to think that she might have gotten more than she bargained for. Through her mother’s journals she discovers Katherine was an agoraphobic who loved to spend m ...more
Ayda Razak
Jun 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
DNF at page 162. This book is about an actress who wanted to make a film about her mother who was a famous writer. As she was digging into her mother's past, she got to know more about her mother especially through her mother's journal.

I found the story is a bit weird but mostly because too many xxx scene in it. I've tried to finish this, I really do but is a NO.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A huge fan of Diane Chamberlain, I have been trying to track down some of her older books for quite some time. I was rapt to see Secret Lives being published as a re-release from 1991. Hoping that this older book was going to be as good as her newer books, I am glad to say I enjoyed it just as much. I highly recommend any of Diane Chamberlain’s books – she is a gifted writer who is able to connect to the reader within a few pages…….In Secret Lives we follow famous actress Eden Riley. Eden’s moth ...more
Dec 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for something easy to read and that I could pick up and down at a moment's notice - this book hit the spot and more. It is essentially 3 stories woven into the one novel and that gives it the edge: you just don't want to put it down. By the end I was truly hooked and wanted to find out what happened in each of the stories. The subject matter was not trivial either - agoraphobia, deception and child abuse.

I am certainly going to pick up other books by this author, whom I didn't know
Apr 18, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I usually love Diane Chamberlain's books but this one was just plain terrible. Syrupy desperate love, predictable & just went on & on. I usually like the past vs. present tales & if it weren't for the past narrative I wouldn't have finished it. Eden Riley's character is just plain ridiculous. The whole child molestation part was disgusting & the fact that they keep some of these secrets is just implausible. This book was too damsel in distress whiny. ...more
**4 stars**
A great read that brought a tear to my eye!

Time taken to read novel: 3 days

Ahh I am so glad that my faith in Diane Chamberlain has been restored. My last Diane Chamberlain novel was Reflections which was quite a disappointment so I am truely glad that I enjoyed this novel.

Eden Riley, an unhappy Hollywood actress, makes the decision to return to her small hometown in Virginia to try and understand her mother, who passed away when Eden was only four years old. While on her quest to unde
❤Marie Gentilcore
Diane Chamberlain is one of my favorite authors because she creates characters that feel so real to me and I enjoyed this book very much. This story is about Eden Riley, a movie star, who has come back to her childhood home to write a screenplay about her deceased mother, Kate, who was an author of children’s books and was famous for spending most of her time in a cave. Eden’s Uncle Kyle saved Kate’s journals and gives these to Eden one at a time so we get to experience the present with Eden and ...more
Judy D Collins
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this republished Nook e-book, and as usual Diane Chamberlain never disappoints! I was delighted to read Diane’s comments at the end of the book as to the creation of the story. (Even though I have an imagination; this book goes beyond expectations. I enjoy learning how an author uncovers an idea and brings it to fruition with their insights-- will not spoil this for potential readers. )

Secret Lives was most definitely a work of exceptional structure, pacing, and revelations (author’s goal)
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite grasping early on the big "secret reveal" of Eden Riley's mother, Katherine, whom Eden has decided to make a movie out of, I very much enjoyed the book. Eden is a film actress, who has made quite a name for herself. After her 15 year marriage dissolves, she decides to write a screenplay based on her mother's life. Her mother was decidedly introverted, strange, and talented, being a prolific children's book writer. She died when Eden was four years old. Eden returns to her family home in ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
As with other Chamberlain books, I loved it! She does an amazing job of really pulling you in with the characters. I read this one almost in one full day.
The story follows Eden, a Hollywood star, who came to her family home to research a screenplay based on her author mother and in the meantime gets much more than she bargained for, including a growing relationship with her aunt and uncle and a man who is working for them, with secrets of his own.
The story is well written and rather sad in par
Kristi, A Book Fanatic
Before I start with my review, I want to say once more how much I enjoy Diane Chamberlain's writing. However, the last book I read by her I just wasn't very impressed so I began this book with trepidation. Once I started reading though I was totally sucked into this story. I could NOT put it down!!

This book had lots of elements - a mystery, a love story, a family tragedy, mental illness ... This book packed lots of issues into its pages.

Eden, the main character, is a Hollywood actress that has
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This is the second book by Diane Chamberlain that I've been impressed by and my favourite of hers by far. This is interesting to me considering that this was one of her first novels and she's written many since this one. I really loved this book.
I lost my motivation for reading this month for some reason and so it took me a long time to finish it but regardless of that fact, this was truly wonderful work. I got so wrapped up in the romance of Ben and Eden and I was really rooting for them to wo
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I needed to know what happened to the kids in this book, but there was still so much missing for me. I wanted to understand what was at the heart of the main character's neurosis, I wanted to know more about the main villian in my eye, I just wanted a deeper back story.

Also, this book felt late 80's/early 90's in style. And while that is not always a bad thing, it was in parts for this book.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was fine, a decent palate cleanser between heftier reads. It definitely sucked me in, though I found my enthusiasm wavering toward the end.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprising find for me, and what a gem! I picked this up when I was in treatment and we were out on a supervised-5 minutes-in-each-shop-don't-even-think-about-buying-alcohol-or-anything-over-the-counter-in-boots trip, and I was running out of books- fast, so I grabbed the first 3 I could see that had a vaguely intriguing title and went with them.

Anyway, someone saved me and bought some books in on a visit, and I shoved this to the back of my room when I moved out and voila! 3 months
Teresa Kander
I listened to this novel after listening to The Midwife's Confession and Breaking The Silence in the past. Having enjoyed those two, I presumed that I would enjoy anything written by this author. Just goes to show, never presume anything about novels!

Listening to this book, I was reminded of the years when I used to read "bodice ripping" romance novels. As a teenager and a twenty-something, those were great reads, but as a woman of a certain age, that is no longer what I look for when reading no
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a little slow to get into at first (when I say a little, I mean it wasn't as instantaneous as her others) but by around chapter 3, I was hooked. I couldn't wait to read all the journal entries and I started forming a real image of all the characters in my mind. The story of Ben Alexander was riveting and I genuinely couldn't work out if he was innocent or guilty - the twist at the end of that was brilliant. Having two seperate stories in one book was a really good touch and both were equa ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would put this in my chick lit cabinet althought the book has more to it than that. There is an intricate plot with many layers of secrets that author reveals only when she wants to. The complexity of social norms and judgement is shown over a span of two generations. The fact that the book can keep you up at night unable to stop unravelling the story of the main characers is due to author's masterful writing. I recommend it for a light reading that will allow you to forget your everyday probl ...more
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I do not know how Diane does it - each book I have read of hers (almost all of them) are so different from the next but there is a line that runs through them all of the heartfelt care she takes with each character. This book is about a famous movie star who goes back to her home to research her mother's life for a screenplay and discovers secrets that changes her life, and those she loves forever. I loved this book!
Bonnie Eldridge-labaff
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Book review

An absolutely amazing book. It had me hooked from the first chapter. We never really know how keeping secrets can change how we view ourselves . Eden never realized how much he mother had suffered in her young life. Kate and Kyle both suffered at the hands of an abusive mother. Kate was an depressed, isolated girl with a brilliant mind. How she lived her life being isolated in a cave with her writing was truly symbolic of her isolated life.
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another really good book by Chamberlain, but this one got a bit graphic at times. There was definitely a lot of "intimacy" among the characters - and a huge part of the book dealt with a man's conviction of a horrendous crime that I won't go into details to. A great read though! Highly reccommend it!
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Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed ...more

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