Tess is running away from her old life. She’s not even sure where Cleveland is when she hurriedly accepts a job as a housesitter in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, she’s not even sure Joe offered her the job when she said she was on her way. She turns up at his old, large house with a baby in tow and her only possessions boxed up in her car. She’s the best of a bad bunch of applicants so Joe lets her stay despite her having no idea what she’s doing and she’s quite obviously hiding something.
It’s quite clear from the start that Tess has money problems and she’s terrified of it catching up with her. As the title suggests, it’s all about secrets and that it’s often better to get them out in the open than letting them fester away. Tess is keeping a variety of secrets from Joe and her new friends but many of them seem quite inconsequential things to be scared about. This is often the way when someone keeps secrets for so long. Maybe it all seems a little too easy to sort things out once she starts confessing though.
Joe also has his secrets. He works abroad a lot, building bridges, and has women waiting for him in every country. Upon returning he doesn’t feel like his house is home. The bridge building metaphor was perhaps a bit overdone in places and Joe’s voice wasn’t consistent. There’s be the odd soliloquy or internal thought that didn’t sound like him at all. I’ll accept that he had a lot of thoughts go through his head when he has his relationship epiphany but the words on the page seemed unlikely.
I liked the setting of a Northern seaside town, it makes a nice change from London and the location adds to the story as well. Overall an enjoyable and undemanding read.