“Some people are meant to disappear from your life, to remain a memory, a faded possibility. A curiosity. I ought to know. But when curiosity is so easily fulfilled, how do you avoid fulfilling it?”
While leaving his office after a tough day at work, Jeff Manning is struck by an oncoming car and killed. The news of his death causes the lives of two women to shatter: his wife Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Lost in her grief, Claire tries to piece her life back together while comforting her son, and making arrangement’s for Jeff’s funeral. Despite feeling apprehensive about inserting herself into the lives of the loved ones Jeff left behind, Tish’s own sense of loss propels her into volunteering to go to his funeral on behalf of the company. Told through the alternating voices of Jeff, Claire, and Tish, readers discover the secrets that each of these characters hide beneath the surface, and explore the complexities of human relationships.
Ever since I fell in love with Arranged by Catherine McKenzie, I have made a point of reading every book that she writes. When I first read the description of Hidden, however, I was initially wary. The fact that the synopsis hints at an affair immediately made my enthusiasm plummet. Despite the fact that I typically avoid books dealing with cheating and infidelity (which I find too bleak and distressing), I decided to give Hidden a fair chance, and I’m glad that I did! While Hidden doesn’t leave you with the warm fuzzy feeling that her other books do, it is mesmerizing in a way that makes you not want to look away.
What is the source of Hidden‘s magic? The characters. Jeff, Claire, and Tish are far from perfect, and McKenzie did a fantastic job at developing them into unique and complex personalities. I loved getting to know each of them more intimately through their individual narrations, and was pleasantly surprised by how much lay hidden beneath the surface of their stories. With each chapter I found myself amazed by new revelations and discoveries, and my prediction about the outcome of the book was constantly changing. Perhaps the most remarkable thing of all, however, was that I found myself sympathizing with all of three of the narrators! That was the last thing I ever expected to happen in a novel about a potential affair!
Hidden is McKenzie at her best. As much as I love Arranged (and it’s still my favourite book by her), the writing and storytelling in Hidden is absolutely outstanding! There is a maturity to Hidden that is missing in Mckenzie’s previous stories, and it made the whole novel seem much more relatable and honest. While I still won’t go out of my way to read novels about infidelity, Hidden has removed some of the prejudice that I initially had for stories with that plot line. As always, I’m anxiously looking forward to seeing what McKenzie comes up with next!