A gripping book about what families - Victorian and modern - try to hide, and why.
An Edinburgh lady frets over her Anglo-Indian niece's darkening upper lip. A heartbroken mother hands over her eight-year old illegitimate son for adoption. A queer vicar locks away the diary chronicling his sexual longings.
Family Secrets offers a sweeping account of what families hid in the past, and why. Both a story of keeping secrets and how they were revealed, it journeys from the frontier of empire and the families of British adventurers to the wood-panelled chambers of the Divorce Court, where a family's disgrace was dissected for public view. Drawing upon scores of previously sealed records, Family Secrets explores the many faces of domestic shame.
In delving into the familial dynamics of shame and guilt, Family Secrets offers a fascinating look at the part that families have played in the transformation of respectability from the Victorian era to the present day.
Born into a family with its own fair share of secrets, Deborah Cohen was raised in Kentucky and educated at Harvard and Berkeley. She teaches at Northwestern University. Her last book was the award-winning Household Gods, a history of the British love-affair with the home.