Anna’s Secret by Margaret A. Westlie
Prince Edward Island in 1859: murder disrupts a close-knit community descended from Scottish settlers, nearly all related by kinship. The murder is soon followed by a series of ever more unsettling events. Neighbours come together to help one another, but their trust in the goodness of life has been shaken and will not be restored until the perpetrator is uncovered.
The constable’s investigation is over in one day, but no one is satisfied. When the men gather at the store or the women to quilt, they speculate about Anna, the murdered woman. Angus, elder of the church and de facto leader of the community, helps his cousin Ian, Anna’s husband, deal with an angry son. But Angus is himself the victim of malicious pranks that leave him struggling with an awareness of his own mortality. The ever-present twins Hector and Duncan, with their belief in ghostly presences behind the mischief plaguing the community, lighten the tone and offer comic relief. When events force Angus and the church elders to enquire, they find they understand little of Anna, whose secret is guarded until her last breath by Old Annie, healer, midwife, and the last of the original settlers.
Anna’s Secret is a gentle mystery without detectives, gore or violence, bringing readers into a community of good and caring people. Those who expect the sweetness of Anne of Green Gables in Anna’s Secret, will instead find a sterner world where memorable characters grapple with perennial themes: confidence and betrayal, corrosive secrets, grief and mourning, rebellious youth and helpless parents, and above all the shadow of old age and death. Readers will also find humour and affection, comic characters, and above all the life-affirming message of the value of community.
Join the community of Prince Edward Island in Anna’s Secret.
“I recommend reading Mattie’s Story first”
Five Star Review on Amazon By MAB
The first paragraph grabbed me, and I had to read on. Anna, a woman in the prime of life, lies dead in a field above her house, and the murder weapon, an axe, lies nearby. Her community is small and tightly knit. Who is the murderer? and What is his or her motivation? The story is set one generation after Margaret Westlie’s novel Mattie’s Story, so in about the 1850s. I recommend reading Mattie’s Story first, because there is a connection between the two. Plus, Westlie does an excellent job of creating a backdrop for the community in Mattie’s Story, including its link back to Scotland, for the characters are descendants of the Selkirk Settlers who arrived on Prince Edward Island in 1803. Anna’s Secret, like Mattie’s Story, is for Young Adult readers, but hey! I liked it, too.
About the Author
Margaret Westlie is a native of Halifax with close family ties to Prince Edward Island, where her family immigrated from the Isle of Skye, Scotland, in 1803. She is a graduate of the Victoria General Hospital School of Nursing and of Dalhousie University in Halifax. She discovered her talent for writing almost by accident, while completing a degree in church music, and immediately switched her degree plan to English, receiving a Master’s Degree in English with a Professional Writing Emphasis in Prose and Poetry from the University of Missouri. She played violin with the Philarmonia of Kansas City and has sung with a number of choral groups, including the Confederation Centre Singers and Akkord in Charlottetown. She is also an accomplished pencil portraitist. She makes her home in beautiful Prince Edward Island, Canada, where her novels are set.