The Secret Children by Alison MCQueen – Book Review

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The Secret Children touches the sensitive subject of Britishers taking on Indian concubines and creating a generation of illegitimate children. The book is told to be inspired from the author’s own family history. Alison McQueen is born to a British father and an Indian mother; this book may be attempt from the author to understand her own history.


John McDonald was a young Britisher managing a estate in the state of Assam, India in 1920s. He was not too bothered to go through the process of getting married, but his monotony justified the prospect of taking an Indian concubine in secret. Things were arranged discreetly and Chinthimani became a part of his life. Chinthimani, a vulnerable and gulliable girl of young age looked forward to the day John would marry her; but that day never arrived. They had two children – Serafina and Mary who grew up thinking their life to as normal as possible. Serafina realizes the truth early on and tries her best to protect Mary. Mary being gentle natured by birth is dominated by Serafina, who is driven by a maddening need to keep up a false identity; which eventually leads to much misery in the life of both sisters.


I think there was no other book about which I found it very difficult to write about. I couldn’t make myself to write what I truly felt about this book. And this could my fourth attempt in writing a review; and I am almost ready to discard this review.

This book is heart breaking but so beautifully written too. Alison McQueen has taken inspiration from her own family history and we could feel how close to her heart the subject is.

I loved this book immensely from Page 1 though it was a very sad book to read

Verdict: Loved the book, but there is a lot of sadness.

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3 thoughts on “The Secret Children by Alison MCQueen – Book Review

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