Release Day post: Her Sister’s Secret by Jan Baynham
Her Sister’s Secret, with its sub-heading of ‘the Summer of ‘66’, is my second novel. As I was with my debut, I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Speaking with other authors, they reassure me that the nervousness never goes away, so it’s good to know I’m not alone. I was unprepared for the wonderful response I received for Her Mother's Secret through so many reviews and messages. Naturally, I'm wondering whether my new novel will be viewed as favourably by readers and there is now a level of expectation that wasn't there for my debut.
I am passionate about the idea that forms the basis of Her Sister’s Secret and it’s the reason why I wanted to tell Rose and Jen's stories. By now, I know my characters really well; I think of them as my friends. The novel is different, as it should be, and has its own characteristics but I think readers will find some common elements. Her Sister’s Secret tells two stories, a mother’s and a daughter’s, dealing with their relationship and exploring whether there is an unbroken bond between them. The actions and decisions taken by Rose have consequences for Jen, many years later.
Always fascinated by skeletons lurking in cupboards, I’ve placed family secrets at the heart of this novel again. The novel opens in 1946 with Rose’s story and is set in the fictional village of Pontcarreg in beautiful, rural mid-Wales. We follow her as she begins work in the kitchen of Greystone Hall. We are witnesses to the frequent clashes with her disciplinarian father who is harbouring a secret of illegal dealings. When Rose leaves the village, she too has a secret that eventually rips the family apart.
Jen’s story begins in 1965 as she looks forward to leaving home to go to college. One of the family secrets is revealed by accident and she is left reeling. I wanted to explore how it felt to
know that she has been deceived. In her words, she has been ‘living a lie’ and her life is a sham. Is it understandable that, for a while, she puts her life on hold and rebels, becoming a wild child.
All my novels have one section set in a foreign country. In Her Sister’s Secret, when Jen delves deeper into the family secret, she travels to the beautiful island of Sicily. She spends the summer of 1966 working there and searching for answers to who she really is. The climate, the food and the people all contrast with the sheltered life she’s left behind in Wales.
The book is character-driven, and I hope that readers will experience the emotional highs and lows of the two main characters. Society is vastly different today and I hope I’ve captured glimpses of what it was like for young women living in the late forties and the mid- sixties.
I hope readers will enjoy reading Her Sister’s Secret as much as I enjoyed writing it.
About the Book:
How far would you travel to find the truth?
It’s the 1960s and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city.
Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer’s world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock’n’roll.
But Jennifer’s experience with the excesses of sixties’ culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she’ll have to travel further – first to Cardiff, then across the ocean to Sicily – if she wants to find out who she really is ...
Kindle UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08F5H7YQF
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction and from then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published. Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full-length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories.
Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. They have three grown up children and four grandchildren, with another little one expected in the summer. Having joined the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter.
Follow Jan on Twitter @JanBaynham Find her on Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer