In my teens, I was an avid reader of Victoria Holt novels and had every one I could get my hands on. However, after lending my collection to someone, with the promise they would all be returned, then never seeing my precious books again, I moved on to other authors. I picked up “Seven for a Secret” at a used bookstore, thinking to re-visit my childhood author. “Seven for a Secret” did not totally disappoint; it is a nice story, as were all of Victoria Holt’s books. However, I felt there was something missing.
The story starts out strong enough … the tragedy that befell the heroine, Frederica, could very well have been such during those times. Her mother, born into luxury, lost it all – the money, the marriage, life as she had known it. Yet, in trying to keep up appearances, she loses her mind, and then her body crashes and Frederica is collected by her mother’s sister. The young child has never known her father, as he left when she was but a baby. The aunt is much different from her sister – more practical – and she and Frederica get along well. Frederica becomes friends with the two young girls in the area, Rachel and Tamarisk. Rachel is quiet and withdrawn; Tamarisk is rich and spoiled, and the three girls take lessons at Tamarisk’s estate. Tamarisk has a brother, Crispin, who scars Frederica upon their first meeting when he calls her plain.
The story is interesting enough to keep one engaged. There are incidents that happen around the lives of the three girls, but they are not dealt with in a profound manner – actually, the writing is a bit naive, although I suspect for the target market, it is what is expected. I must admit there was a nice twist at the end (which I had suspected much earlier in the book), but nice all the same. I am not sure if we live in a fairytale world like is being depicted in “Seven for a Secret,” then again, did we ever? And, what is a story supposed to do for us? Maybe it is just meant to take us into an alternate universe for a time so we don’t have to dwell on the everyday mundane events of our lives.
Is “Seven for a Secret” worth reading? Yes. A nice story for a rainy afternoon. Three stars (for old time’s sake)