#BookSnapSunday – The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge

The secrets that bind a family
Can also destroy a family

1932. Ernie and Lily Hass, and their daughter, Girlie, have lost almost everything in the Depression; all they have keeping their small family together are their secrets. Abandoning their failing wheat farm and small-town gossip, they make a new start on the west coast of Australia where they begin to build a summer guesthouse. But forming new alliances with the locals isn’t easy.

Into the Hasses’ new life wanders Lily’s shell-shocked brother, Tommy, after three harrowing years on the road following his incarceration. Tommy is seeking answers that will cut to the heart of who Ernie, Lily and Girlie really are.

Starting again is always difficult. It takes time to find your way around, to make friends, to find your place in a new community. Living beside the ocean sounds idyllic. There is something calming about the sand of lapping waves, the smell of salt in the air and the feel of sand squelching between your toes. It’s been a long time since I have seen the sea and I miss it. It is the place I love most. If I could live anywhere I choose, it would be by the sea.

In their new home by the ocean Girlie is an outsider but, “whatever marked her out as different was invisible to her….something was different, and it had to do with whatever she had done to make people look at her funny.” Everybody seems to have secrets in this story and at this stage I don’t have all the answers.

In this life sometimes people will hurt you and you’ll never know the reason for it. But they’ve got their own reasons enough. And they might not have anything to do with you.”

I am impressed by Napier’s writing. In some ways it is restrained, and that is a pleasant change. Napier has deftly woven a story that incorporates the hardship of the depression, the long-lasting and devastating impact of shell shock, and the rigid gender roles of the inter war years. 

The Great Depression is a very sobering period in history. Instigated by the Wall Street crash in 1929, the Great Depression was a worldwide economic and social disaster. It was a terrible time for many – unemployment, poverty and homelessness on a scale never seen before. In Australia the unemployment rate peaked at 32% in 1932 and over 40,000 men took to the roads looking for work. It took Australia nearly a decade to recover economically, but socially it was a different story. The suicide rate had skyrocketed and many Australians were scarred for life. It also had a significant impact on the political landscape in Australia which you can read about at the National Museum of Australia.

2 thoughts on “#BookSnapSunday – The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge

  1. I think maybe this is one of those times where it might be wise to listen to the lessons of history, hopefully we will not see anything like the great depression again but you never know. This sounds like an interesting read and the photo is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, finally found a purpose for all those shells I have collected over the years! It seems a different approach is taken to economic policy these days, more of an emphasis on stimulating rather than cutting costs. Hopefully we will never see another depression like that again.


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