Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
I have a few Kelly Rimmer books residing on my shelf, waiting patiently to be read, and if it hadn’t been for Beauty and Lace, Truths I Never Told You may have been sitting there for just as long.
This was a very moving story about family, relationships, secrets, death, grief, but most importantly about postpartum depression and how it can affect both the sufferer and those who care for the person suffering.
Despite not having suffered postpartum depression, I very much related to both Beth and Grace’s experiences, because I have suffered from depression and they look pretty similar, minus the children. Because of this I always worried if I had children, I would not cope and could completely see where these two women, especially Grace, were coming from.
From the beginning, when I read Grace’s first letter, I knew I was in for an emotional time, and there were definitely moments that make me cry or brought tears to my eyes. All the characters, excepting Grace and Maryanne’s parents we so relatable and I enjoyed passing my time with them, even in the sad parts.
I liked the ways the stories ran in parallel, the 1996 timeline telling Beth’s story and the 1958 timeline telling Grace’s story through her letters to herself and then Maryanne’s story, all complimented each other and I enjoyed uncovering things slowly with Beth, though for much of the time we know much more than Beth and her siblings, we get to uncover the final secret at the moment Beth does.
Patrick’s illness, his heart disease, and his dementia were extremely sad, it is always a sad thing when someone ceases to be the person they were, but even sadder for Patrick as he couldn’t verbalise what he was wanting to say. This was a new type of dementia I was unaware of, where language is interpreted in painting or some other creative pursuits. I could visualise Patricks series of paintings so well in my mind, imagining what he would have painted to go with each of the letters. Art is a wonderful way to get our feelings out and at least Patrick had this outlet for his emotions.
There were other topics that were important throughout this story, especially the expectations put upon women to marry, look after the house and have children, the lack of say in what they can do with their own bodies, the lack of access to birth control and the way it was frowned upon to use it if you could access it. All of these things that we as westerners now take for granted. This is what Maryanne and her desire for change was hoping to get for women everywhere.
Beth – “It’s hard to believe how different things were for her. I mean, I’ve been sexually active for…” I pause and do the math, then grimace, “God. Over twenty years. I was on the pill for more than half of that time, until Hunter and I started trying to conceive. It was actually quite easy for me to avoid pregnancy until I was ready.”
“Society moved on so fast. That’s what we wanted, of course,” Maryanne says and sighs as she pats my son to sleep. “But there’s a cost in rapid progress like that, because women your age don’t always understand how lucky you are.
It’s true, we forget how lucky we are in many respects compared to only 60 or so years ago. One thing that still hasn’t changed enough though is the stigma around mental illness, yes it is more understood and less stigmatised than it was, but we still haven’t reached the point where people are comfortable asking for help and worrying about what others will think. Stories about mental illness are vitally important if we are going to change this. Beth, unlike Grace, had lots of support even when she didn’t want it, how different Grace’s life and in turn Patrick and the children’s life might have been had she had the support of her parents.
This was a very moving story with some very important themes and I was hooked from the beginning. I’ll definitely be getting the rest of Kelly Rimmer’s novels as soon as possible.