The Teachers Secret by Suzanne Leal Legend Press March 1st 2018
I love Australian literature and was delighted to be invited on the blogtour for The Teacher’s Secret.
A small town can be a refuge, but while its secrets are held, it’s hard to know who to trust
and what to believe. Terry Pritchard, assistant principal at Brindle Public School, watches his career collapse. Nina Foreman, a new teacher, struggles with the breakdown of her marriage and a new classroom. Rebecca Chuma is also new to Brindle: the locals are curious – what’s she doing there and why can’t she return home. By contrast, Joan Mather has lived in Brindle all her life. Since the death of her elderly mother, however, she’s been finding it hard to leave the house.
The small Australian town of Brindle, is a place where everyone knows your business, where nothing can remain a secret or at least not for very long. This is the setting for Leal’s story of a myriad of characters who must all come to terms with their past, present and future.
Terry is the deputy head at the local primary school, adored by both staff and especially by the children he teaches. When young new head. Laurie, arrives Terry expects life to carry on as normal, but it doesn’t. As she watches his close interaction with the children, all she can see is the inappropriateness of his hugs, of the arms around the shoulders, of the assistance given to one girl out of school hours. All Laurie, wants to do is to get rid of him, to fill the school with regulation, procedure and order. Who wouldn’t rebel when faced with new ideas, with restrictions on what you can and cant do, and that is exactly what happens with Terry. Leale writes wonderfully of his anguish, and turmoil, as what he perceives as just helping is twisted and manipulated. You could sense the sorrow and raw emotion oozing from him, and I wanted to scream at Laurie for her vindictiveness and sheer narrow mindedness.
Nina on the other hand is struggling to keep her marriage alive, and be the best mother she can to her little girl. When she arrives at Brindle Primary she has a real battle on her hands to be accepted by the children. What I loved about Nina was her tenaciousness and her ability to accept when she was wrong. She had a certain fragility to her that resonated with myself and I remained hopeful throughout the story that all would be well.
My favourite character had to be Joan. A woman who is now alone, her mother dead and no immediate family. It was beautiful to read of her slow emergence into a world outside her front door, making new friends and seeing the possibility of a life full of people and happiness.
I wasn’t quite sure how the story of Rebecca and her son actually fit into the story. Their flight from Africa under strange circumstances certainly piqued my attention and I did wonder what Rebecca was holding back. I concluded that Rebecca and her family were there to show how those who are different from the norm stand out in a such a small community, and how difficult it is for families similar to Rebecca’s to be accepted. It was nice to see Rebecca portrayed as a strong and brave woman and my fingers were crossed throughout the whole novel for her to be ok and to get the outcomes she so wanted for her family.
Leal has written a novel that shows the good and bad of a small community, it shows how information can be twisted and manipulated to suit a situation, how lives can change in a heartbeat. It is also a novel of immense hope, recovery and survival, of a communities willingness to accept people for whom they are no matter what they have done or where they have come from.
I thoroughly enjoyed the cast of characters and their stories
Thank you to Imogen Harris at legend Press for a copy to read and review and for inviting mybookishblogsot on to the blogtour.
About the Author
Suzanne Leal is a lawyer experienced in child protection, criminal law and
refugee law. The Teacher’s Secret is her first novel published in the UK following her well-received debut in Australia, Border Street. Suzanne lives in Sydney with her husband, David, and her four children, Alex, Dominic, Xavier and Miranda.