Book Review: Hidden – Catherine McKenzie

Hidden coverTitle: Hidden
Author: Catherine McKenzie
ISBN: 9780544264977
Pages: 304
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: New Harvest
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publicist
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

When Jeff Manning is hit by a car and killed walking home from work, his wife Claire is devastated, as expected. But Tish, Jeff’s coworker, is also blindsided by Jeff’s death, unable to cope. Who was Jeff to Tish? What secrets was Jeff keeping from his wife?

Snapshot Review:

A thoughtful and emotional novel, Hidden takes a premise that seems cliche and turns it into something new. McKenzie writes sympathetic, three-dimensional characters that readers will immediately connect with.

Full Review:

Hidden by Catherine McKenzie is an examination of two womens’ grief at the loss of one man, Jeff. At the beginning, it’s not clear what the nature of Tish and Jeff’s relationship was. Were they just good friends? Were they having an affair? Or was it something in between, a nebulous and complicated relationship that didn’t really have any sort of definition? McKenzie handles this tension well, ensuring that there are no easy answers in this novel.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions about what Jeff and Tish were up to in Hidden, and I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed by the premise. After all, “widow finds husband’s secrets after his death” is a plot that’s been done quite frequently, and one thing I’ve always admired McKenzie for is that her plots are really unique. But I’m glad to say that McKenzie handled it very well. Both Claire and Tish act in unexpected ways; this novel isn’t a cliche, even if that’s what the summary might imply.

Indeed, McKenzie is excellent at writing the unexpected, which shows on every page of Hidden. It’s not just Jeff that had his secrets. Before she and Jeff met, Claire dated Jeff’s older brother, Tim. It’s always been a source of tension between Jeff and Claire; but how does Claire actually feel about Tim? It’s been easy to ignore him, given that he lives out of the country, but of course he will return for Jeff’s funeral. Claire must face her own difficult issues with Tim’s return. (And before you start worrying, no, this isn’t widow-falls-into-bed-with-ex-at-an-inappropriate-time either. McKenzie is too smart and bold for that.)

The author richly develops both Tish and Claire; readers will be able to sympathize with both women. McKenzie takes a premise that has been done before and reinvents it, making it something new and unique. If you enjoy smart women’s fiction, Catherine McKenzie’s books should absolutely be on your list; she’s such a talented author and breathes life into her stories and characters in a way that’s really difficult to do.

Other books by Catherine McKenzie:

Forgotten

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Comments

  1. I disliked this one so much. I found it too predictable and the characters to be so selfish. It wound up making me not want to read any more books by McKenzie.

  2. I have to say I wasn’t a fan of this. I think the point where we disagree is that I wasn’t able to sympathize with Tish at all. But, hey, to each their own! I did like McKenzie’s writing, though, and will check out her other books.

    • I had trouble with Tish as well at the beginning, but I feel like her actions at the end of the book (which I couldn’t talk about in detail in the review, for obvious reasons) redeemed Tish in my eyes.

  3. trish422 says:

    It’s always enjoyable to me when an author takes a cliched plot formula and sort of turns it on its head by having the characters move beyond the expectations.

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