Book review: Things We Never Say by Sheila O’Flanagan

After a nomadic childhood, Abbey Andersen is happily settled in San Francisco and the last person to go looking for change… but a blast from the past is about to shake her life to its very foundations.

By Pam Norfolk
Monday, 1st July 2013, 10:00 am
Things We Never Say by Sheila OFlanagan
Things We Never Say by Sheila OFlanagan

With over 15 bestselling books under her belt, popular Irish author Sheila O’Flanagan shows no sign of flagging as her new warm and perceptive story of a family at war hits all the right buttons.

Things We Never Say, one of those perfect summer reads, is proof of a writer on top form with its compelling plotline, mixed bag of lovable and distinctively unlovable characters, enchanting air of mystery and an astute exploration of relationships and how they cope in the pressure cooker of modern life.

At 28, Abbey Anderson enjoys her work as a nail technician in a San Francisco salon, has a live-in boyfriend and a good friend and substitute father in her absent mother’s former boyfriend Peter Caruso.

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When she worries about whether she is doing the right things in life, Peter wisely advises that ‘You can’t change anything that’s already happened, and the future is an open book.’

What she didn’t expect was her boyfriend to walk out on her and an Irish investigator to walk into her life and reveal that everything she believed about her family roots is a lie. Her mother Ellen was adopted and her real grandfather in faraway Ireland wants to meet her.

Under the guidance of handsome Ryan Gilligan, the Irish PI and legal adviser who was sent to find her mother, Abbey must travel to Dublin to find out more about the Fitzpatricks, the family she never knew she had.

But she is scarcely off the plane when she is plunged into a new crisis, one that will change everything for Abbey and her secret grandfather’s other children and grandchildren in Ireland who had no idea that she even existed.

Abbey will have to make a choice that will affect everyone she knows, including the family members who have come to resent her arrival in Ireland. How can she be sure she makes the right decision and can her life ever be quite the same again?

The past and the present intertwine in this absorbing story which moves from shocking events in Tipperary 55 years ago through to the drama that confronts the feuding Fitzpatricks in the present day.

There is heartbreak, unhappiness and more than a few haunting secrets along the way which all conspire to make Things We Never Say a creative, thought-provoking and sensitively handled story sure to delight O’Flanagan’s army of avid fans.

(Headline, hardback, £13.99)