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In 2006, Pidge receives word that she has inherited her grandmother Jane’s house. Without telling her own mother, Felicity, the young woman leaves her home and work in Ottawa, Ont., and travels to Scotland, curious about what she’ll discover in Jane’s house. An unexpected guest assails her—a wild goose who moves into the house, and, surprisingly, eventually fulfills Pidge’s need for companionship in her solitary task of going through the house’s contents, and an opportunity to invest her nurturing instincts.

In intermittent chapters, author Katie Munnik artfully weaves together the stories of Jane, Felicity, and Pidge, each woman, born into the world as all children are, and, later, confronted with motherhood by various avenues, detours, sorrows, and joys, sometimes on difficult journeys, always with demanding work. As Felicity wisely says about birthing, “It’s hard work and scary. It hurts, and it makes you fragile and you have to do it. You have to move through it. Messy and powerful and real and that’s good. And it happens to everyone. That’s what brings us all here.”

Throughout this deeply moving novel for adults, Munnik conveys the majesty and ordinariness of birds—real birds and metaphorically significant birds—especially the wild goose, Pidge’s companion, but symbolizing much more, as the reader discovers.

Lyrical and layered with meaning, The Heart Beats in Secret shares the complexity of human choices and secrets, and their significance for future generations. Subtly, by various means, the book conveys Christian hope, and shows, as one minor character says (reminiscent of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), “Christmas has a way of coming even when all else is strange and cold.” (The Borough Press)

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