The Language of Secrets: Book summary and reviews of The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon

The Language of Secrets

By Dianne Dixon

The Language of Secrets
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2010,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

From a fresh and exciting new voice in women's fiction, The Language of Secrets unflinchingly examines the lifelong repercussions of a father's betrayal.

Justin Fisher has a successful career as the manager of a luxury hotel, a lovely wife, and a charming young son. While all signs point to a bright future, Justin can no longer ignore the hole in his life left by his estranged family. When he finally gathers the courage to reconnect with his troubled past, Justin is devastated to learn that his parents have passed away. And a visit to the cemetery brings the greatest shock of all—next to the graves of his father and mother sits a smaller tombstone for a three-year-old boy: a boy named Thomas Justin Fisher.

What follows is an extraordinary journey as Justin struggles with issues of his own identity and pieces together the complex and heartbreaking truth about his family. With great skill and care, Dianne Dixon explores the toll that misunderstandings, blame, and resentment can take on a family. But it is the intimate details of family life—a mother's lullaby for her son, a father's tragic error in judgment—that make this novel so exceptional and an absolute must for reading groups everywhere.

The Language of Secrets is the story of an unspeakable loss born of human frailty and an ultimate redemption born of human courage.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The Language of Secrets is a psychological mystery with emotional underpinnings that will have you puzzled and intrigued right up to the moment Dixon's sleight of hand is revealed." - Sue Grafton

"Though there's a payoff in the surprise ending, the plot is painfully overeventful." - Publishers Weekly

"A lovely, compelling debut novel. Aptly titled, The Language of Secrets explores the ramifications of loss, the aftermath of tragedy, and the sometimes terrible cost a child can pay for a parent's guilt." - Kristin Hannah

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Ann D. (Clermont, GA)
The Language of Secrets
This book about family and memory and the way secrets interplay with both was a powerful story about childhood and the lasting effects it has on our adult lives. Justin Fisher is finally able to triumph over his childhood scars and become the husband and father he wants to be.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Linda K. (Belvidere, IL)
Captivating!
Sir Walter Scott probably said it best, “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”. No one wants to hurt the ones they love, but sometimes in our effort to protect those loved ones it seems necessary to engage in little white lies, or lies of omission, so as not to hurt their feelings or upset them. Justin Fisher learns just how damaging these “protective measures” can be when he returns to his childhood home after a few decades, to find that his parents are dead and buried and apparently, so is he! The gravestone beside those of his parents says Justin Fisher, beloved son, died at the age of three. What was to be a brief visit after a very long absence, turns into the realization that everything known and everything believed that formed the foundation of his life, has crumbled around him. Can Justin rebuild? Will his loved ones and those he never knew support him while he rebuilds his world?

Dianne Dixon writes a most intriguing story that will surely keep you flipping pages perhaps late into the night, while asking yourself if you’re really certain you and the people around you are really who you believe.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Joanne G. (Kennesaw, GA)
A Very Good Read
I think The Language of Secrets rates five stars because it was a very good read which was hard to put down. The author skillfully weaves an intricate plot with alternating chapters told by well-defined characters over a period of time. The intriguing results of decisions made by these all too human people accompanied by unexpected twists of fate provide much for book group discussion.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Gail I.
The Language of Secrets
I found this book to be a real page turner that kept me interested to the end. The author, a screenwriter, knows how to write a story which keeps the reader wanting for more information to solve the puzzle.

The style is easy to read and chapters are named for the character, place, and date of the event. It flashes back and forth between the present and past events which helps the reader t understand some of what has happened, although it has a surprise twist at the end.

It's relatively light reading and would be a good book to take on a trip. I can see a movie version in the future. It did remind me of Jodi Picoult's novels.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Brenda S. (Grand Rapids, MN)
Interesting Read
This was one of the first books I could have read in one sitting if possible. The story itself was compelling; however, the writing sometimes threw a loop in the read. It was like reading the diary of a bipolar person. Although I enjoyed the book, I would have a difficult time recommending this to my book club.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Cynthia D. (Thousand Oaks, CA)
The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon
A short book which was a very quick read. Authored by a screenwriter, so the prose is not at all complex, and I have to wonder if she isn't hoping for a movie deal after its release.

Excellent title which fits the book well. Suggested price of $24 is too high and book should not be released in hardback, as the story does not merit that. Trade paper would suit it quite well. The back cover depicts it as ". . .examines the lifelong repercussions of a father's betrayal." However, the book is not only about a father's betrayal, but also about a mother's betrayal of her own marriage vows, followed by her husband's tragic inability to cope with the consequences of her infidelity.

While there is nothing profound in the storyline, it is suitable for contemporary fiction book discussion groups and will lend itself to plenty of discussion, including the dysfunctional familial relationships. The story indeed is heartbreaking, with one tragic revelation unfolding upon another. . .so many that it seems, at times, quite unbelievable.

There is also a surprise revealed on the very last page of the book, a mistake, I believe, as some readers may see where the book is headed, perhaps tire of the last 20 pages or so and decide to check the very end to see if anything new is revealed. It is. . .and what a surprise, at least it was to me! That itself will make for a fascinating discussion regarding foreshadowing, etc.

I recommend the book as light reading on a heavy theme, but nothing memorable. Many book clubs who prefer lighter reading will snap it up!

...11 more reader reviews

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Dianne Dixon is a screenwriter living in California who has twice been nominated for an Emmy, has won a Humanitas Prize for work done in television, and has been Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges.

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