"The story is true"

Jul 13, 2013 – ABCBookWorld

Ben Nuttall-Smith's second novel Secrets Kept / Secrets Told (Libros Libertad 2012) is a memoir of surviving the debilitating guilt of childhood sexual abuse during the London Blitz. The story is true. Only names and places have been changed to permit publication as a novel. The central character named Paddie is Nuttall-Smith.

"One Saturday evening, Paddie and his wife treated themselves to dinner and a movie. The Prince of Tides starred Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo, a trauma patient, and Barbara Streisand as his psychiatrist.

"When three armed convicts break into the Wingo home, violently rape Tom's mother and his twin sister, Savannah, and a particularly sadistic con anally rapes young Tom, Paddie suffered such a vivid flashback to being repeatedly raped by an uncle in London during the blitz, that he froze in his seat and cried audibly.

"After the movie, when everyone else had left the theatre, Paddie was finally able to pull himself together and join his wife in the lobby. Without a word, the couple walked to the car and, as was customary, Paddie got behind the wheel. Within minutes, he had to pull over because he could no longer see to drive.

"'I was the boy in the movie,' Paddie whispered. 'I was the boy in the movie.'"

Following this episode, around 1990, Ben Nuttall-Smith's marriage disintegrated, his teaching career fell apart and, suffering from PTSD, he moved to a ‘Handyman's Delight' on the Sunshine Coast. As part of the healing process, he began writing. He burned stacks and stacks of bitter scribbles while saving many of the better parts. Seventeen years of writing and rewriting and several edits later, the publisher/writer Manolis agreed to publish the novel.

In Secrets Kept / Secrets Told, the protagonist travels to French Canada where he encounters bullying. At 17, he joins the Navy. Later he is nearly killed providing support to blacks in the Southern U.S. "Desperate to find acceptance and love," writes psychiatrist and reviewer William Hay, "he seeks the spirituality of a Catholic teaching order and discovers the joys of teaching music and drama. After thirteen years of mixed joy and frustration, he leaves the order and marries...

"For all those who have known the horrors of residential schools, persecution for difference, the shame of abuse, stigma and injustice, or who just want to read a wonderful biographical novel of an extraordinary man in extraordinary times, I would urge you to read Secrets Kept / Secrets Told."

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