BOOK REVIEW: A Secret Music by Susan Doherty Hannaford

I read this book at the recommendation of my friend, Melissa. This is another one of those books that came to me because of the book I wrote, One Brave Thing.  I took a picture of the cover and then forgot about it for a few weeks. I’m so glad that I remembered! I thought this secret musicbook was wonderful. It’s about a family of five in the early 1900’s that is seemingly well off during hard economic times.  Dad works long hours, mom has an illness that is shrouded in secrecy for years, as does one of the children. Two of the three keep it hidden from the adults in their lives, which include their clergy and their aunt, who is a second mother to them all. Many of the family members are gifted musically, Lawrence most publicly of all. I didn’t want to put this book down, even though it deals with difficult subject matter, because I always wanted to know what was going to happen next.


There are some wonderful sentences in this book, so true that I copied them down many of them in my journal.


The author gives one of the most excellent descriptions of mental illness I have ever read on page 195:  “It’s like in the broad daylight, it’s still dark… There is a wall around her and she can’t get out and nobody can get in.”

Another poetic quote from page 196: “… people don’t understand how a place like this fills up that empty space you didn’t know was empty.” And this from page 201: “The more he said things out loud, the lighter he felt.” And this, from page 235 from the aunt:  “It has always been my preference to live in the brightly lit side of my life.” I’d better stop now, or there will not be any book left for you to read!

I loved all of the characters in this book. I had the clear thought when listening to Father McMahon speak to Lawrence that if he had been the priest at my church, I would probably have stayed a practicing Catholic.


Definitely read this book! And when you finish it, read my book, One Brave Thing! And tell two friends! Thank you!


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