By Robert Noonan
[Reviewed by Charlotte M. Liebel, Author]
Award winning historical novelist Robert Noonan creates the story of Secrets to complete tales of his Orphan Train Trilogy. He fashions it around the children’s earlier 19th Century circumstances. Yet, Secrets stands alone as readers become involved in the lives of his past and newer characters in this third book. Those who have read his first two novels will be surprised at the developments in lives of favorite families. Noonan’s customary journeys develop with strange mysteries and intrigue – even, murder.
In early 20th Century: Secrets reintroduces family conflicts that serve to reach background mysteries in Wildflowers and Bridie’s Daughter. Stories show the desperate plight of 200,000 orphaned American children of New York during 1854-1929 until transported by so-called Orphan Trains to Western states for adoption.
Audiences follow youthful characters in Secrets who find adoptive parents. These are children whose lives produced many and complicated secrets. Imagine loss of parents by death and separation or escape from perils of murder and suicide.
- It is the beginning of the 20th Century and Bridie McDonald’s life is fulfilled with the adoption of teenager Catherine who arrives on the Orphan Train to her hometown of Newberry, Illinois. Bridie’s past overshadows her happiness until an unexpected love interest enters her life. But Bridie cannot move forward until she deals with the past. In a nearby town, Hillary is 14 years old and living with Kate and John her foster parents who left lots of history in Delaware. The textile mill owner is killed there as they leave and Kate knows who did it. Riveting moments occur when a person from the past shows up in their lives. Considering the family settles in an unlikely Mid-Eastern town, they are shocked to learn they’ve been discovered.
Noonan is a master at situations of intrigue and suspense. Just as lives of favorite children appear without problems, a stranger from the past rides into town. Noonan’s protagonists encounter disturbing events and bad timing. He is clever to generate interest in several families with their own set of activities. Additionally, he conjures interest by having characters interact with one or another family to create complex scenarios.