The Secret Women by Sheila Williams

The Secret Women

The Secret Women by Sheila Williams
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.2 MB

The author of Dancing on the Edge of the Roof, now a Netflix film starring Alfre Woodard, returns with a riveting, emotionally rich, novel that explores the complex relationship between mothers and daughters in a fresh, vibrant way–a stunning page-turner for fans of Terry McMillan, Tayari Jones, and Kimberla Lawson Roby.

Elise Armstrong, Carmen Bradshaw, and DeeDee Davis meet in a yoga class. Though vastly different, these women discover they all have one thing in common: their mothers have recently passed away. Becoming fast friends, the trio make a pact to help each other sort through the belongings their mothers’ left behind. But when they find old letters and diaries, Elise, Carmen, and DeeDee are astonished to learn that each of their mothers hid secrets–secrets that will transform their own lives.

Meeting each month over margaritas, the trio share laughter, advice, and support. As they help each other overcome challenges and celebrate successes, Elise, Carmen, and DeeDee gain not only a better understanding of the women their mothers were, but of themselves. They also come to realize they have what their mothers needed most but did not have during difficult times–other women they could trust.

Filled with poignant life lessons, The Secret Women pays tribute to the power of friendship and family and the bonds that tie us together. Beautiful, full of spirit and heart, it is a thoughtful and ultimately uplifting story of unconditional love.

“I’ve got some negative energy for you.” This loudly whispered comment emanated from the woman two mats down from Elise, now seated and rubbing her knee, a sour expression on her face.

Elise suppressed a giggle.

“Well, shit and double damn!” the woman added.

To Elise’s right, a woman Sergeant Jasmine had called Deanna unfolded from her headstand and crumpled into a heap of giggles.

“My feelings exactly,” the woman on the purple mat said, her low voice shaded by suppressed amusement.

Soon afterward, Jasmine concluded the session with “Namaste, class.” She bowed, her hands clasped together. She was frowning at Elise as she rose.

“Namaste,” the class responded in unison.

“Whatever,” Elise murmured. She limped over to the cubbyholes to collect her things and put on her shoes.

The woman called Deanna plopped down on the floor beside her and laced up her sneakers. “Thanks for that,” she said to Elise, grinning. “That’s the most fun I’ve had in a headstand pose since I came here!”

“Me too,” came a voice from behind them. The woman from the purple mat grabbed a gym bag from one of the cubbyholes. “Most of the time, I look forward to class. It helps me reduce my stress.” She rummaged around in the bag for a moment, then pulled out a towel and draped it around her neck. “But I have to tell you,” she said with a sigh, “I just was not feeling it tonight.”

The two women laughed and introduced themselves as they dressed. They were relative newcomers to the class, having joined only a few months before Elise’s brief absence.

“Deanna Davis, but call me Dee Dee—everyone else does.” Dee Dee’s wide smile lit up her face. She was tall and slim with an elegant neck and smooth features that reminded Elise of a fashion model. She moved with the confidence of an athlete, and Elise wondered if she was a runner.

“Carmen Bradshaw,” said the woman from the purple mat, extending her hand first to Elise, then to Dee Dee. Carmen’s almond-shaped hazel eyes sparkled with mischief. “I just love it that you cursed in class. Sometimes I think our esteemed leader is a bit of a tight ass.” Carmen’s cheeks brightened as she laughed, soft peach against her light caramel skin sprinkled with freckles. Her light brown hair, a profusion of corkscrew curls, was corralled with an animal-print scrunchy. “She gets just a little bit too serious for a Monday night.”

“Amen to that,” Elise said, fumbling around in the bottom of her purse to find her keys. Her fingertips brushed against a cool, smooth surface. “Got ’em!” she said and added, “I’m Elise Armstrong.” And then she thought with amazement how she had taken this class for over two years and had shared floor space with a revolving group of twelve to twenty people, including these two women, and this was one of the few times she’d actually held a conversation with her classmates beyond the perfunctory “Hi, how are you doing?” Why was that? All that focus on tadasana feet, puffed out kidneys, and downward-facing canines, then out the door to rush off to their respective busy lives and no time out for the real Namaste moments. Life went too fast to throw those things away.

“You haven’t been in class in a while,” said Dee Dee, shrugging a sweater over her toned shoulders.

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