book reviews

Book Review: Secrets Between Friends


Secrets Between Friends
Author: Fiona Palmer
Published: 2017
Publisher: Hachette
My Rating: 4.5/5

Three friends embark on a luxury cruise to celebrate their ten-year reunion. But long-held secrets can catch up with even the best of friends. 

Secrets Between Friends is a poignant story of romance, family dynamics and friendship from beloved Australian Storyteller Fiona Palmer.


Secrets Between Friends is the latest novel from Australian author Fiona Palmer. Best known for her best-selling rural fiction, Secrets Between Friends sees Fiona tackle the broader genre of contemporary women’s fiction.

The novel tells the story of three friends – Abbie, Ricki, and Jess, who have been friends since high school.  And then there’s Peter. Peter who has been friends with Jess since they were six years old, and who is now dating Ricki, even contemplating ‘popping the question’. The four friends who are all hiding secrets from one another, take a cruise off the Western Australia coast in order to celebrate ten years since graduating high school. What is meant to be a fun catch up, soon turns into an emotional ride, when each of their secrets catch up with them.

Although Fiona is tackling a new genre, she has still stayed true to her heart-felt storytelling with believable characters and real-life problems and situations to tackle. Fiona builds her character’s worlds in a way that lets you in, without bombarding you with needless backstory. We get only what we need to help move the plot forward, but it’s also enough to create empathy for all of the characters and draw you into the story.

It really is the strength of the friendships that makes this novel tick. I particularly loved how close the characters were, yet they still held some from each other. I think this is something we can all relate to, no matter how close we are with our best friends.

Fiona sets the scene beautifully. From stunning Fremantle, to aboard the Pacific Eden cruise ship, you felt you were experiencing the excitement along with the characters. And the Western Australian coast line sounds superb. It definitely made me add a WA cruise to my bucket list!

The story is an emotional journey that will have you feeling all the feels. And just when you think things look they are resolved, Fiona hits you with something way left of centre. A bombshell I wasn’t expecting, but one that made the story and characters’ journey so much richer. The last couple of chapters, along with the epilogue were so very touching. (Spoiler: you will need tissues!)

I remember thinking half-way through the story (which I read in only a couple of days), that it was a great light, summer read. But by the end, I decided that description would not do the book justice; it is so much more. It is rich, meaningful, poignant, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and will make you realise the value in such special friendships, even more that you do already.