Whisper My Secret

Whisper My Secret came about as an indirect result of my search for three siblings I did not know I had until my mother (Myrtle Rowley) died in 1995. My sister, Irene, and I were gobsmacked when we went through Myrtle’s things after her death. Papers in an old silver cash tin revealed my mother had had three children through a previous marriage, before meeting my father.  None of us kids had ever had any inkling of a previous marriage, let alone three other children. There was little information in the papers we found and, knowing Myrtle to be a committed family person and a dedicated mother, we could not understand how she came to be separated from her first three children. So my search began.

First, I needed to try to locate the two brothers and sister whose names appeared on the birth certificates in the cash tin. It was not difficult to track down Myrtle’s first born, Ken Dopper (I call him Bertie in the book). He was living in Queensland. He told me that he had not thought about his mother in years but that one night recently, an image of a woman appeared before him. He thought it was his mother and when he described her to me it sounded very much like Myrtle. We established that the timing of the appearance of the image was very close to the time of Myrtle’s death. Perhaps it was an imagined image and perhaps it was coincidence but it seemed to give him comfort to think it might have been his mother trying to say one last goodbye.

Kenny was able to give me contact details for my sister who was living in Houston, Texas, USA and other brother who was living in Ballarat, Victoria. None of the siblings could tell me much about why they had not remained with their mother. They had grown up with virtually no information about Myrtle; certainly no accurate information.

I went to Albury, New South Wales (where Myrtle lived at the time of her first marriage) and tracked down Myrtle’s cousin. Lily (that’s what I call her in the book) was able to fill in some of the missing details. I contacted other people who were around at the time of my mother’s marriage. Somewhere during that process I decided to put Myrtle’s story into a book and Whisper My Secret was published in 2007.

What saddened me most was that my mother felt obliged to keep her early life secret from her family and all who knew her in Orbost, Victoria where we lived. That must have been a very difficult thing to keep silent about all those years. At first, I simply did not understand why she was secretive but in the process of writing the book I developed a deeper understanding of the complex issues that might have made it hard for her to speak about it.

Photos of Myrtle and family

I am now in the process of writing a sequel to Whisper My Secret which is bringing me an even deeper understanding of Myrtle’s life, both as a mother separated from her first three children and as a mother of seven children living in virtual isolation in the Australian bush.  Update:  Mother of Ten, the sequel to Whisper My Secret, is now available on Amazon.

Some Amazon reviews:

This story of tragedy, loss, guilt and shame, topped by a mother’s love and devotion is one I highly recommend….5 stars

This is a very well written book. It is hard to put down once you start, you just want to keep reading to the end…5 stars.

It is a well written and very much worth the money to buy it. I’m ready for the second book to follow it…5 stars.

This is the kind of story that hurts your heart. But it’s also a story of love and new beginnings…5 stars.

See reviews in full at Amazon.



Comments on: "Whisper My Secret" (37)

  1. Loaded your story on my Kindle, and found it extremely touching and captivating. Your writing style is very enjoyable, and I am looking forward to reading more from you. I almost exclusively read non-fiction, so I am looking forward to the sequel to this book. Was hoping to see some family photos posted. Thank you for sharing such a touching story, and be well!

  2. Hi Denise,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave your thoughtful comments.

    Some people have asked for photos in the book and I have resisted that. However, your suggestion of family photos on the blog is a good one. Why didn’t I think of that!!!! I’m going to put that in my diary to do in July (when I have a little spare time).

    At this stage I can offer you my father’s love letters (lest you did not find them) here:


  3. Tobe Halen said:

    I just finished your book. For a mother to be separated from her children through no fault of her own – simply at the whim of a hateful, vindictive, mother-in-law…..aided by her spineless son – is tragic. As a mother, myself, I cannot begin to imagine how Myrtle coped with her loss. Your mother was a strong woman to bear such a burden and you tell her story with much love and tenderness.

    I am so looking forward to the continuation of the childrens story….would love to know if they ever confronted their father and grandmother with the truth.

    • Hello Tobe,

      Thank you for your insightful comments.

      Although I developed some understanding of what my mother must have gone through because of my research it is, as you say, hard to imagine what it must have really been like for her.

      I am so pleased you took the time to leave me a comment and to read Myrtle’s story.

      All the best. JB 🙂

  4. Just finished “Wishper my secret” and am eagerly awaiting the sequel.
    Until I read your blog, I wasn’t aware this is your personal story, although I did wonder while reading.

    You don’t tell a story, you take your readers back to Myrtle’s life of social pressure, her personal battle with what she believes in and the impossible choices she had to make.

    I couldn’t help but feeling her emotions..her shattered hopes when secret romance turns into a loveless, forced, marriage. Her inner beliefs she is doing the right thing, but feels gagged by what is sociably acceptable.

    You painted a realistic period real-life drama.

    Thank you for finding the courage to share your personal journey with us.

  5. Hi Cloggie,

    I very much appreciate your comments. Thank you. I am working on the sequel and it is planned for release in early May, 2013. JB 🙂

  6. sarah horton said:

    cannot wait for the sequel, i put this book on a kindle and read it in 2 days, i couldnt put it down.
    I dont know how your mum managed to stall herself, the pang of my children going back to school after the summer holidays destroys me, she must have been a very strong woman, and an icon of yours.
    I bet she would have loved to have made contact with your three siblings-who knows she may have spotted them in the street secretly ?
    Im glad your mum moved on, found the man for her, and went on to have seven more children-she was very brave.

    • Hi Sarah, How lovely of you to drop by and give me your feedback. Yes, a mother’s pain on being separated from her children is unimaginable. Thank you for your best wishes for my mother and for reading her story. JB 🙂

  7. I just finished your book and enjoyed it immensely. It was a good read and I definitely recommend it. I look forward to the sequel!

    • Hello Shiann,

      How lovely of you to take the time to post a comment here. Every positive comment I receive from a reader increases my motivation to get the sequel finished. I am actually on a break from my day job at present – just for a few days- which has allowed me to write lots! JB 🙂

  8. Marsha Hoffman said:

    I read your absolutely fascinating book on my Kindle. It was such a great read. You definitely took us back in time to Myrtle’s pain. I can’t imagine how she survived such an injustice bestowed upon her. I abhor injustice. My favorite moment was when your grandmother told off that bitty on the steps of the church. I was cheering her on! I am anticipating your sequel with much vigor! Thank You for sharing such a personal time in your mother’s life to heal other’s who were forced to make such horrific choices.

    • Hello Marsha,

      Thanks fro dropping by. That scene on the church is one of my favourites, too. I was heavy with sadness during the writing of much of the book but writing that scene gave me renewed energy.

      If Myrtle’s story goes any way toward helping someone else I would be humbled and gratified and my mother, who was always helping others, would have been pleased to know that, too.

      Actually, I have been touched by the stories others have shared with me and I plan to dedicate the sequel to mothers who have suffered forced separation from their children.

      JB 🙂

  9. I loved this book, couldn’t put it down, can’t wait for the second book! Loved this book

  10. I just finished “whisper My Secret” about 5 minutes ago. I have come straight to your blog to read more about your mother’s captivating and emotional story. You have portrayed your mother with love, tenderness and understanding which is a testament to her goodness and strength of character. Her story is a sad one and I am so happy to learn that her three children from the first marriage harbour no resentment. They obviously inherited your mother’s character traits of compassion, understanding and forgiveness.

    Thank you for sharing her story.

  11. Anne T Curry said:

    Loved Whisper My Secret. Look forward to the sequel. Do you have a name for it yet?

    • Thank you, Anne. The sequel is due out in a few weeks. It is currently going with an editor who is due to get back to me with final feedback in a few days which means publication will be only weeks away. Very exciting! (The sequel is called Mother of Ten.)

  12. […] More about the writing of  Whisper My Secret. […]

  13. I just finished your book Whisper My Secret. I loved the book. I cried for your mother and her children. That would be unbearable. I am looking forward to your sequel. Please let me know as soon as it is available. You are a wonderful writer.

    • Thank you, Tami. I am touched by your comments and appreciate your taking the time to give me feedback.

      The sequel to Whisper My Secret – called Mother of Ten has just been released.

  14. I just finished your book Whisper My Secret and had to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I was so captivated by your mother’s story. She must have been a very strong woman to go through so much pain and then eventually raise seven more children! Thank you for sharing her story and I so look forward to reading the sequel.
    Did your mom ever find peace with God? I hope so.

    Many Blessings,

    • Thank you, Tammy. Great to ‘meet’ you and I do appreciate your comments. Yes, I think Myrtle was a strong woman – a woman of her time perhaps.

      The sequel to Whisper My Secret has just been released. It is called Mother of Ten.

      All the best,

      JB 🙂

  15. JD Gahler said:

    Loved both of your books thank you for sharing your Moms precious story. My Mom had a child in the twenties but was able to keep her and raise her with the help of a loving family. My older sis was a joy. Your story saddens me that you were not able to have the love of your siblings those many years. Blessings to you.

    • Thank you for reading my mother’s story, JD, and for sharing the story of your sister – how marvellous that you did not lose her. JB 🙂

  16. M. Chris Warders said:

    JB, I just finished reading your mother’s story. First, let me comment that I think women of your mother’s generation were so much stronger than most women today. Their lives were much harder and they dealt with loss on a much more frequent basis than women of today. They were strong and practical because they had to be. Many lost husbands through war, and children through disease and lack of medical care. My heart goes out to your mother who made the sacrifice to give up her children rather than submit them to legal fights and more ugliness. I don’t understand why the children were not raised by their father or the paternal grandparents. To have them taken from their mother and left institutionalized is criminal at the very least. My other question is about whether you were implying or if you suspect that Minnie was Myrtle’s birth mother? Thank God for George who was able to give her a happy life! She certainly deserved it.
    M. Chris W.

    • Hi M.Chris,

      I appreciate your comments. Thank you so much. It is touching to read your support for Myrtle.

      You are right, it is hard to understand the actions of the father and the paternal grandparents – well, the grandmother anyway; I am not sure that the grandfather had much say in the matter.

      You question about Minnie is a valid one and others have asked the same question. No, she was not Myrtle’s birth mother. Minnie was an example of what could happen to young girls who fell pregnant out of wedlock back in those days. It was a little clumsy of me to lead the reader astray about a possible connection between Minnie and Myrtle.

      The sequel, ‘Mother of Ten’, seeks to address any misconceptions that might had arisen out of ‘Whisper My Secret’ as well give a more factual account of what went on. Unfortunately, ‘Mother of Ten’ does not answer the question about why the father and the paternal grandmother behaved so abominably because I was never able to fathom that one myself.

      Thanks once again to you, and to all those who take the time to drop by and offer comments and feedback. It means a lot. JB

  17. Wonderful read! I could not put it down – read it in one go. What a marvelous & brave woman!

  18. Thank you so very much! JB 🙂

  19. I found your book, “Whisper My Secret” on Amazon. The story sounded intriguing and I am not disappointed! I read the entire book in one sitting!

    I am a writer too. I write children’s books and music. Currently, I am working on book number three called “Little Fido”—a history of the Civil War through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln’s dog. Release is set for December 2013.
    Thank you for sharing this interesting and inspiring story. Your Mom (and Dad) were lovely souls.
    Sincerely, MG Furlong

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your feedback. I am thrilled you popped over here for a visit.

      “Little Fido” sounds very interesting: I immediately thought of the success Bryce Courtney had with ‘Mathew Flinders’ Cat’. I hope you have just as much success with ‘Little Fido’! I will keep an eye out for it on Amazon.

      Cheers JB 🙂

  20. what a love story,,,great book, my heart broke for your mother,

    • Thanks for reading her story, Jane. You are right about the love story. Even as a child I was fascinated by George’s devotion to Myrtle and their commitment to each other. JB 🙂

  21. Sharon Stinson said:

    Just discovered “Whisper My Secret” and was captivated by your telling of Myrtle’s story! How wonderful to know that she and George found each other after such heartbreak, that they were blessed with many children, and especially to find out that her first children not only came to know their half-siblings but also came to understand the sacrifice their mother made because of her great love for them. Thank you for sharing your mother’s remarkable life – now anxious to read “Mother of Ten” !

  22. Hi Sharon, I really enjoy hearing from readers of my books. Thanks for taking the time to give me your feedback. I am touched by your understanding of my mother’s situation.

    And, yes, I too am glad that she found my dad. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised how marvellous it was to grow up in the warmth of his passion for my mum. He was a good man and just what she needed.

  23. Sandy Turnbull said:

    I lived next door (#7) to your mum in the late 70’s & early 80s. I became involved with the Salvation Army through her, and she quickly became very much like a second mother to me. I still look up to her to this day.

    • Hi Sandy. Lovely to hear from you. I’m sure you shared many a laugh with Mum. You might be interested in joining (if you haven’t already) the Facebook group – History of Orbost and District. Lots of interesting discussions and photos.
      Thanks for visiting here and leaving your comments. JB 🙂

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