Secret Shame

By John Needham

General fiction | Paperback, eBook


Julie Hawkins has a pretty good life, really. Or so she thinks. Marriage to a rock-solid, dependable policeman. Three lovely kids. A nice house in a smart suburb of Liverpool. It’s the respectable comfortable middle-class dream. She has more, does unassuming little Julie Hawkins née Brennan, than she would ever thought she might have aspired to. But her younger, wilder days, after fleeing a dysfunctional upbringing in Ireland, have left behind a dark, guilty, shocking secret that she’d hoped to keep firmly buried and forgotten. The tranquillity of Julie’s life is shattered when her eldest daughter, Stacey, who’s from a short-lived earlier relationship, goes rebelliously off the rails and finds herself pregnant. And then, just when life is getting back onto an even keel after that upheaval, the ghost from her past emerges and poor Julie seems fated to suffer more heartbreak. She begins a search, a quest of atonement seeking forgiveness of wrongs done to people in her former life. But will she find redemption? Secret Shame is John Needham’s fourth novel and a companion book to the earlier The One of Us. It is a poignant essay in empathy, tolerance and understanding.


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Julie Hawkins has a pretty good life, really. Or so she thinks. Marriage to a rock-solid, dependable policeman. Three lovely kids. A nice house in a smart suburb of Liverpool. It’s the respectable comfortable middle-class dream. She has more, does unassuming little Julie Hawkins née Brennan, than she would ever thought she might have aspired to. But her younger, wilder days, after fleeing a dysfunctional upbringing in Ireland, have left behind a dark, guilty, shocking secret that she’d hoped to keep firmly buried and forgotten. The tranquillity of Julie’s life is shattered when her eldest daughter, Stacey, who’s from a short-lived earlier relationship, goes rebelliously off the rails and finds herself pregnant. And then, just when life is getting back onto an even keel after that uphea...


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I have had a love affair with the written and printed word all my life. An avid reader as a child, my passion for print really took off when I was apprenticed as a compositor in the bygone age of hot-metal letterpress, long before the advent of computers, high-tech printing and ebooks. Much of my career continued around print, in copywriting and as a graphic designer. Now retired from all that, I write books, issues-based and exploring the human condition. I have produced two house renovation books although not yet published them, and an autobiography, Wishing for the Better, is available free-to-read on my website, wordsfromjohn.wordpress.com. In fiction, my debut novel was Convergence, a story of elderly, interracial love. This was followed by Forebears, a family saga set in the east of England spanning 106 years from the early 20th century almost to the present day. A third novel, The One of Us, is about the trials and tribulations and nature/nurture theory of separated-when-babies, adopted identical twins. My latest book, Secret Shame, is a companion to The One of Us, telling the later poignant story of the birth mother of the twins. Another Spring is a small anthology of short stories: some of them stand-alone and some modified sample chapters from the novels. I live and write my words in west Wales.


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I have had a love affair with the written and printed word all my life. An avid reader as a child, my passion for print really took off when I was apprenticed as a compositor in the bygone age of hot-metal letterpress, long before the advent of computers, high-tech printing and ebooks. Much of my career continued around print, in copywriting and as a graphic designer. Now retired from all that,...


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