Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
This is the first novel to be published under this author’s name. Previously, she had published a variety of children’s books and two adult historical novels under the name of Carol Jones.
For this publication, The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay, Brooks has chosen the genre of historical fiction and used a dual time format. Her main characters are young women. Rose and Ivy lived their early lives in England around the time of the first world war, while Molly grew up in Australia in the 21st century.
On the death of her grandmother, Molly is tasked with finding out if her great grandmother, Rose, really did drown. ‘I think… my nan was haunted by Rose…I feel like Nan bequeathed me Rose, as much as any money I inherited’ (100). This mission sees her travelling to England and discovering the class system that existed at that time and which was to play a large part in this story.
There are several mysteries which need to be solved, not just about Rose’s disappearance. Early on in this story, the reader is positioned to wonder if a character has taken on someone else’s identity and if there is a reason for Ivy’s father’s attitude and behaviour towards her. There is also doubt about Molly’s relationship to the families in England. However, the reader must wait for some time to see if their suspicions are confirmed.
I did not particularly like any of the three main characters. Rose because of her privileged attitude and behaviour towards Ivy, Ivy because of her sullenness and darker side and Molly with her inability to move forward after her father’s death and relationship disappointments. I felt sorry for them and could understand why they might be the way they were presented but could not warm to them as people I would enjoy being around.
By having two main locations, Julie Brooks was able to showcase her delightful descriptive skills. The reader learns much about the inside of the houses of the upper class in Devon as well as the beautiful and dramatic environment in parts of Victoria and Tasmania.
Much is made of a photograph of two World War One, British Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses and their relationship to each other. It was supposed to suggest a relationship which didn’t really exist in this story. Ivy and Rose did take up this role and because of this ended up migrating to Australia, but the picture was not a true representation of the relationship between the two.
Carol Jones has lived most of her life in Melbourne, Australia. She taught English and Drama in secondary schools before working as an editor of children’s magazines. She has been a full-time author since 1999.
Her novels The Concubine’s Child and The Boy with Blue Trousers are published by Head of Zeus while her latest novel, The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay, under the name Julie Brooks, is published by Headline.
This was an interesting read putting together the pieces which solved each of the puzzles.
The Secrets of Bridgewater Bay
by Julie Brooks