Review of ‘Hidden Truths’ by Jae,
Audiobook narrated by Hayden Bishop
I’ve recently listened to book one of this lesbian historical fiction book series and absolutely loved it. I’m not a fan of this genre so I thought that the ‘Oregon Series’ wouldn’t appeal to me but despite that, I’ve decided to give the audiobooks a try. I’m happy that I did because I’ve absolutely loved them.
This is the sequel of ‘Backwards to Oregon’ which told the story of “Luke” Hamilton, an ex-soldier who lives disguised as a man and migrated to Oregon with his fake wife Nora, a former prostitute. ‘Hidden Truths’ is set 17 years later and focuses on their daughter Amy and mail-order bride Rika Aaldenberg. They all hide their secrets but when those hidden truths are revealed will they keep them apart or bond them together?
Whoever said that second parts aren’t as good as the originals weren’t talking about ‘Hidden Truths’. Book two is as much a tour de force as the first one, well researched, skilfully plotted, perfectly executed. This is Jae at her best, and considering her writing is usually excellent, it’s not a minor compliment.
While book one focused on the journey of immigrants to the west in search of a better life, book two deals with the hardships of being women, especially gay women, in the 1860s. I’m far from an expert in women’s history but some of the experiences, feelings, and things said by these characters resonated with my own coming out experience more than 120 years later.
Lesbians in the 1800s were completely invisible to society, so much so that they couldn’t find any role models to follow. Society wouldn’t give them even negative recognition as with gay men. So, finding a soulmate and enjoying intimacy with them would have been extremely rare. Considering this, Jae’s story might be too optimistic and even far-fetched but within the ‘Oregon Series’ universe is plausible. Those are the joys of historical fiction, it can somehow rewrite herstory to give us hope. It certainly did it for me.
As with ‘Backwards to Oregon’ this audiobook was read by Hayden Bishop who did another stellar job. I’ll say it again, it’s a pity that Ms. Bishop hasn’t narrated much lesfic as she is a truly accomplished performer. In ‘Hidden Truths’ I also loved her different voices and accents which were all distinctive and authentic, including every single secondary character. This audiobook is more intimate and emotional than the first one and Ms. Bishop did another excellent job. 5 stars
Not available on Audible Escape or Scribd but at a duration of 16 hrs is good value for money.