‘The Hidden Women’ by Kerry Barrett

The Hidden Women: An inspirational novel of sisterhood and strength by [Barrett, Kerry]


Berkshire, 1944
When Will Bates offers to take ATA pilot Lilian Miles to the dance, he sends her heart into a flutter. But as their relationship progresses, Lilian can’t help but get cold feet. Deep down she’s always known that the secrets locked in her past would weigh heavily on her future happiness… 

London, 2018
Helena Miles loves nothing more than digging into the back stories of celebrity families, making her perfectly suited for her job as a researcher on the hit show Where Did You Come From?. But when handsome superstar Jack Jones sweeps into her life, she unexpectedly finds herself trawling through her own family history.
As she explores her family’s past, she discovers that there are far more secrets hidden there than she ever expected… What really happened to her aunt Lilian during the war, and why can’t she open up about it now?


My Review

‘The Hidden Women’ was perfect reading for me.  I absolutely love anything to do with researching family history and I also love the way skeletons come tumbling out of the closet every once in a while when you uncover a shocking event or even better a scandal!  I have many such skeletons in my own family tree but I won’t bore you with them.  Back to ‘The Hidden Women’ I do go.  Anyway you can appreciate why the synopsis of ‘The Hidden Women’ appealed to me so much.  I couldn’t wait to begin reading and oh my goodness, I absolutely loved reading ‘The Hidden Women’ but more about that in a bit.

The two main female leads in this book are Lillian Miles and her great niece Helena Miles.  We meet Lillian both in the past, during her service in the Second World War and also in the present day when she is residing in a nursing home for retired performers.  I really took to Lillian.  During the war, she works in the traditionally male dominated world of flying.  Lillian is feisty, stubborn, determined, compassionate, gentle and she is very hardworking.  I had a hunch when I first met Lillian that there was something in her past that had deeply scarred her mentally and emotionally and to a degree I was right.  To give exact details would be giving too much away.  The only thing I had a bit of an issue with was the fact that she did something which she knew to be illegal at that time and she could have got into serious trouble over what she did.  Even then though, I could understand why she was doing what she was doing.  I apologise for the cryptic nature of the last few sentences but I am anxious not to give away too much information because I would hate to spoil the book.  Present day Lillian still has all those qualities that I describe but she is very reluctant to discuss her wartime service with Helena for reasons which do become clear in the end.  Helena has her own problems going on.  She is the single mother to a lovely little girl and she has to be both parents because the girl’s birth father doesn’t want to know.  Helena shares a lot of the qualities that her great aunt Lillian has and I think that that is perhaps why they get on so well.  Helena works on a genealogy television show (my ideal job!!) and helps celebrities to research their family trees.  I was so envious of her in that respect.  Helena hasn’t been in a relationship since her child’s father left the scene and it’s fair to say that sparks fly between her and one of her clients. Helena and her client are linked both in the present and in the past.

I have to say that I was hooked on this book from the moment I twigged that a large part of the story focussed on family history.  As I alluded to above, I have researched my own family tree and I find it to be an extremely addictive hobby.  I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the book to see if the families in the book had as many skeletons in their closet as I have in mine.  Reading this book became extremely addictive too.  I just couldn’t stop reading this book because I needed to know what scandalous things Lillian had been up to during the war and to see how Helena’s story panned out.  The pages turned with increasing speed and before I knew what was happening, I had cleared over half of the book.  I was so focussed on the different strands to the story and the different characters that I didn’t realise just how quickly the time was passing.  For me, ‘The Hidden Women’ is a simply unputdownable book.  The book wasn’t exactly glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it came everywhere with me.  I begrudged having to put the book to one side and if I did have to stop reading for any reason, then I immediately counted down the time until I could pick the book up again.  This book had me reading into the night and I decided that sleep is for wimps.

‘The Hidden Women’ is beautifully, sensitively and fantastically written.  There are some pretty distressing information contained within the book and the author treats them realistically but with great compassion and sensitivity at the same time.  The author certainly knows how to grab your attention from the start and keep it all the way through the book.  There are two main timelines in this book with different chapters focussing on the events as they happened to or regarding Lillian during the Second World War and the events as they happened to or regarding Helena in the present day.  The chapters interlink really well and the story flows seamlessly as a result.

To conclude, I absolutely ADORED reading ‘The Hidden Women’ and I will definitely be recommending it to other readers.  I will definitely be seeking out Kerry’s other books and reading them just as soon as I can.  I just know that I will enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed reading this one.  I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next.  Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait.  The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 5* out of 5*.

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