When Jeff is killed in an accident, his wife Claire and young son must now face the horrible task of planning his funeral and learning to go on with their lives without him. Tish, a co-worker, is overcome with grief when she finds out yet having to keep it a secret on how she is connected with the deceased. She struggles with the idea of attending his funeral and encountering his wife and family but hangs onto the pretense of going as the office representative. Told in alternating viewpoints between Jeff, Claire and Tish, Hidden is a story that unfolds as the story develops and revelations come to light.
I had just finished The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison before picking this up and thought it eerily similar in subject matter: a man who dies and potentially has had an affair. (This is not a spoiler for either book as its part of the synopsis.) Other than the bummer of a mood that topic put me in, the book itself is a fantastic read. With the narrative in present day with the two women, and reminiscing on the past from Jeff, it provides a really well-rounded way of story telling. While Claire and Tish moved the story along, Jeff’s chapters allowed for the necessary history that had to be revealed strategically throughout the novel.
The story is so moving and affecting, gut-wrenching and enthralling. Throughout the entire story, McKenzie leads the readers along with great moments between each of the characters, their interactions allowing us to formulate what we believe is happening between this husband, wife and other woman. Hidden is the first book I’ve read of McKenzie’s and it has introduced me to this fantastic author. Her writing is captivating and distinctive in the three points of view. While this might be categorized as “women’s fiction”, I wouldn’t necessarily group it in such a narrow category. It has heart, it has heartbreak and I’d say this story plays out a bit like a really intriguing mystery. Loved it.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Available: June 18, 2013
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A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for this blog tour in exchange for an honest review
Hidden is currently on sale for $4.99 until Dec 31, 2013! Kobo | iBookstore | Amazon
Q&A with Catherine McKenzie
1. The book deals with some dramatic subject matter. How did you put yourself into that dark mindset to write such different characters living through the same tragedy?
I hope it’s not too dark! I think I did what any writer does: draw on things in my own life where I experienced similar emotions (for different reasons) and infuse those into the characters so they are real. I think we’ve all experienced loss in some form or another.
2. Hidden is told in 3 POVs and it actually took me a moment to realize that the start of each chapter is in a different font, pertaining to the narrator in that section. Were the subtle transitions pertinent to your overall storytelling or more of an aesthetic decision?
I think that was more of an aesthetic decision. My goal in writing the book was to write three distinct narrative voices that the reader could pick up on without cues; hopefully I achieved that.
3. Did this novel always exist with the three key voices? Was the late husband always going to play such a major role in the storytelling process or had it initially been a tale that unfolded between the two women?
Yes I always saw it that way, though the ordering of the chapters in the beginning (particularly in the first section) was different. As you noted, the subject matter can be a little dark, and the nice thing about Jeff’s voice is that it can go back to happier times and places because it is not about now, but the past. I always saw him as both the levity and the heart of the book.
4. I absolutely loved the poem that plays an integral part in the story. Prior to writing this novel, had you written much poetry?
Oh, thank you! You are the first person to say that. That’s actually how I started out: I only wrote my first novel in my thirties but have been writing poetry since I was a child. Poetry is usually – for me anyway – such a person thing, an autobiographical thing that it was fun to write poetry from someone else’s POV.
5. And, (as I ask all authors I interview), what continues to surprise you about the publishing industry?
That I’m lucky enough to still have my books published.
Thank you so much Catherine!