When Maggie Bryan works up the nerve to tell her parents she’s pregnant, they immediately disown her. Later that night, her boyfriend is killed. In desperation, she turns to her brother, Sam. Against his wife’s wishes, Sam brings Maggie to his home in rural Pennsylvania.
While Maggie awaits the birth of her child and navigates the tension in her new home, she decides to finish high school. There, she meets Anne Phillips, a volunteer educator and full-time architect. Over time, Maggie becomes drawn to Anne in ways she doesn’t understand, but she knows enough to keep her feelings hidden.
After a devastating loss, Maggie tries to move on, but secrets and betrayals keep her from living her fullest life. Beginning in the late 1940s and spanning decades, My Secret to Keep portrays a woman at war with society, her family, and herself.
"In her gut-wrenching second novel, Barbara Conrey lays the heart of a woman bare on the page. Maggie Bryan must live the life she's given, not the life she expected, and through tragedy, betrayal, kindness, and discovery, she defines family, love, and herself. My Secret to Keep is a testament to the truth that every woman's story is unique, and every woman's story is worth telling." - Jennifer Klepper, USA Today bestselling author of Unbroken Threads
"With vivid characters and a true-to-life storyline, Conrey's emotionally complex novel tugs at the heartstrings, igniting thoughts about loss, love, family dynamics, cultural biases, and, more importantly, what secrets we tell and what secrets we keep. A truly remarkable, riveting, and honestly beautiful read." - Samantha Verant, Bestselling author of The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux
"MY SECRET TO KEEP is a powerful story of courage and acceptance, an emotional journey through the life of Maggie Bryan, a strong but conflicted woman who, according to society, finds love in all the wrong places. Or does she?" Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of THE PERFECT SON and THE PROMISE BETWEEN US
Could the greatest secret of all be the one Maggie doesn't know? For decades, Maggie Bryan is engulfed by her secrets, separated from others by gossip and innuendo throughout her difficult life in the rigid small town where she first sought refuge as a broken and pregnant, unmarried teen. Which secrets can be told - and which buried forever? You will hold your breath as you read this heart-rending page-turner. Could the greatest secret of all be the one Maggie doesn't know? My Secret to Keep will remain on your mind long after you read it. Pick up this compelling story of love, loss, and love again by talented USA Today bestselling author Barbara Conrey. You won't want to put it down.
Marilyn Simon Rothstein, author of Crazy to Leave You, Husbands and Other Sharp Objects
"Both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, MY SECRET TO KEEP is a poignant and stunning tale of secrets, lies, and betrayal that examines the choices we make about family, friendship, and love. Told through a compelling narrative, Conrey's writing is stunning. Readers can't help but fall in love with Maggie and Anne. I was hooked from the first page."
-Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post & Amazon Charts Bestselling Author
Author interview with Barbara ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I always wanted to write and found ways to do a ‘little’ writing. I wrote short stories but never submitted them anywhere. I wrote a monthly business newsletter that I injected with some humor to turn it from boring as hell to something people actually looked forward to. But as far as writing a book? I kept putting that off until I retired.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Reading, obviously. Needlework. Hiking. I love anything to do with the outdoors. If the snow conditions are right, I love to snowshoe. Otherwise, I’m all about climbing mountains.
How do you start your day (a routine of sorts?)
Every morning starts with a cup of tea. Then meditation. Then I exercise, shower, dress, and I’m at my laptop. The only time this varies is when I’m on vacation.
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
I can’t write without silence. Specifically, early morning silence. I’m not much for writing in the afternoons.
If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…
Books! And my laptop. And Wi-Fi!
What career did you think you’d have as an adult?
I thought I would be a teacher or a librarian. I dreamt of becoming a published author.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I am very much an introvert.
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
No. But I admire authors who write, have a day job, and raise children. I do not know how they do it!
Where do you get your ideas?
This is one of my biggest worries. I’m not the author who has a million ideas up my sleeve. I tend to write about things I care about. Beagles, the Beagle Freedom Project, the brain tumor - glioblastoma, and the right to love who you love, are all topics that have meaning to me.
My latest manuscript is about surrogacy because I have a neighbor who has been a surrogate three times, and I find that fascinating.
Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?
I don’t. I’ve only completed two manuscripts, Nowhere Nea Goodbye, published in 2020, and My Secret to Keep, released in August of this year.
If I wasn’t an author, I might be…?
Honestly? With all that is happening in this world, I would most likely be in a mental hospital if I weren't an author. Or maybe an alcoholic. Or, who knows? Dead?
Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?
Yes! I have several. Kathryn Barrett and Jennifer Klepper have been first readers of both books. Jennifer will most likely always be my first reader unless she hides from me. But the very first, first readers I had were Wendy Gold Rossi and Rachel MacAulay. They read Nowhere Near Goodbye when I had no idea how to write a book. They deserve a medal!
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
Several. Books inspired me to write: Peace Like A River by Leif Unger. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne. Almost anything by Jodi Picoult or Chris Bohjalian or Caroline Leavitt.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)
I’ve been fortunate. I decided to publish with a small press because I felt my age and lack of a backlist were against me. So I submitted to one press, Red Adept, and they accepted me.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?
If I had to go back, I would start earlier (and not feel that my life had to be in perfect order before I could write a book). I would also learn much more than I did when I started writing because I was writing by the seat of my pants. Ask Wendy and Rachel – they can easily address my lack of knowledge.
How do you market your work?
I don’t think I market my work as much as I market myself. And the way I do that is just being me. This is not an easy business, yet I’ve been fortunate to honor that by promoting other authors and their work.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on my third book, as yet untitled. It is entirely different from anything I’ve written, so I may be nervous about how it will be received. But, like everything else I’ve written, it’s a book I feel compelled to write.
What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read?
SO many books! But here’s one: The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
I think most authors reflect on their stories at least a little.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
Yes! And my editor suggested I delete it because, in all honesty, it did not move the story forward. I plan on using it as an essay on deleted chapters (It’s about learning to drive.)
Do you have a favorite character?
Yes! And since My Secret to Keep is the prequel to Nowhere Near Goodbye, my favorite character in both books is Miss Maggie.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Absolutely! Never give up. Give more than you get. Be kind. Be generous in helping other authors.
Favorite book and/or movie?
SO many favorite books! But one that has always stuck with me is Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for helping me fulfill my dreams and for loving my books. Without readers, I wouldn’t be an author.
To connect with Barbara~
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