Review: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes (Diane Chamberlain)

Review: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes (Diana Chamberlain)Goodreads Summary: 

An unsolved murder.

A missing child.

A lifetime of deception.


In 1977, pregnant Genevieve Russell disappeared. Twenty years later, her remains are discovered and Timothy Gleason is charged with murder. But there is no sign of the unborn child.

CeeCee Wilkes knows how Genevieve Russell died, because she was there. And she also knows what happened to the missing infant, because two decades ago she made the devastating choice to raise the baby as her own. Now Timothy Gleason is facing the death penalty, and she has another choice to make. Tell the truth, and destroy her family. Or let an innocent man die in order to protect a lifetime of lies…

My Thoughts: After reading around 150 pages and the text at the back of the book, it feels as if you already know the story. So what is there to come on the following 350 pages? But then I realised that it was not about finding out the story of the crime – it was not a usual crime story during which you try to find out who the murderer was or what has happened to the victim.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes is more about what happened after the crime and how a woman who committed it would deal with this guilt for the rest of her life. In a way, you as the reader understand that CeeCee was really young and naive when she makes her decisions and you start liking her and feeling with her. But on the other hand you start to feel guilty yourself for these kind of feelings because you know how wrong her actions are.

It might sound boring to hear that this is not a crime story in its usual terms and it is a book about feelings and love. In other crime stories, the focus is on the victims and the efforts of the police most of the times but this story focuses on the life of the kidnapper. It shows her motives for committing the crime and how it feels like to live with this guilt. Even though, we know it is wrong, we feel sorry for her and hope that the outcome of her confession will be bearable for her and all others involved.

Also, there is the life of the kidnapped baby which would have turned out to be totally different if she and her mother had not been kidnapped at all. Even though she grew up in a loving family, her whole life still is based on an incredible lie. When she finds out the truth in the end, I asked myself how I would have felt if I had found out something like that about myself and my life. It is very very hard to put myself into this position but Diane Chamberlain is able to describe this terrible situation in a way that makes you understand each and every character of the story. She also manages to highlight the positive outcomes of the story and, in the end, makes it as good an ending as it could possibly be for all characters involved. I am mostly impressed by the way, Cory grows out of this whole story. After her world fell apart in every possible way, she still manages to outgrow parts of her fears out of her destiny.

“But some things are just too important to let fear stand in the way.”

I think, this is one of the lessons learned from this great novel. It is important to all of us to understand that no matter how difficult a situation is and no matter how afraid we are of something, there is always something to learn from it and to take with us.

One of the things I love about reading books is the ability to have my own conclusions and to learn something for myself. I love comparing fictive stories to my own life in order to change it for the better. There is always something we can take with us from each and every story. Books that are thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time are just the perfect read and are usually the ones I am able to finish quickly and without being bored and The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes certainly is one of these books.

This story gave me hope that people can change for the better. It was a great novel and I truly enjoyed reading every single page. Diane Chamberlain is a fantastic writer and I am glad that I came across this book which would never have happened if it wasn‘t for a book club group on Goodreads that I joined recently. This was the February read but I did not manage to read it in time. Still, I am happy to have found this book and I will certainly read more Diane Chamberlain novels in the future!

My Rating: ★★★☆


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