Hidden centres around three people – or rather one man whose world centres around two different women – and how their lives intertwine. It’s Jeff’s tragic and untimely demise that triggers this intertwinement and as the story develops it’s clear there are several very different love stories being played out here.
Jeff and Claire’s marriage seems solid but has not been without drama. Claire dated Jeff’s brother before he left for Australia and let’s just say friction and some unresolved feelings certainly impacted on the relationship. Although Jeff and Claire stay together some of the stitches of their relationship seem to have been unpicked. So when Tish and Jeff strike up a friendship at work and sparks begin to fly, Jeff has to fight hard to keep a lid on his feelings. Tish, meanwhile, has a loving husband but their relationship too is not without its difficulties. Across these many different relationships and interactions falls the shadow Jeff’s death.
The book takes two approaches in telling the story: through Jeff, Tish and Claire we learn about past events, the things that brought them to the point prior to Jeff’s death. Then we learn from Tish and Claire how the death has affected them and whether or not Jeff’s secrets extended beyond his ‘friendship’ with Tish into something much more.
I really liked Hidden. It’s very much an exploration of relationships and how not everything is always as it might seem to outsiders. Claire and Tish are very different in many ways but it’s clear they do share some traits. Often I felt like Jeff and Tish’s relationship developed as a result of them remembering fonder times with their own partners, rather than a determined desire to leave the past behind.
McKenzie does a great job of creating chemistry across the three characters, even when the interactions between them are often quite muted (by necessity). Imagination and assumptions play a big role in the book, particularly after Jeff has died and questions remain unanswered while new questions begin emerging. The dialogue was great and often raised a smile from me and despite the difficult subject matter, I couldn’t help but feel for all of these characters.
Hidden is a great read, quick and easy to enjoy, while at the same time walking just the right line between heartwarming and serious. While not a tearjerker – for me at least – it does have a lot of tender moments. I’d certainly recommend it.