Winner of the 1997 Dutch Book of the Year. A concert pianist learns of a secret from her dying mother which cripples her life. Its resolution comes with an understanding of her family's past.
Three story lines run through THE SECRET, like themes in a composition, sometimes merging, sometimes overlapping, and sometimes going in different directions: this is the story of Wanda Wierickhe, the story of her past and the story of Bouw, the man she l eft.
Concert pianist Wanda Wiericke sees music as a way of escaping reality. It is her answer to questions about her place in the world. So important is it, that when forced to choose, she leaves her husband for it. But when her mother literally spits up "the secret" on her deathbed, Wanda is no longer able to withdraw into her music. A rheumatic disorder prevents her from playing: she does not touch a piano again until she has come to terms with her past.
Enquist's novel is a quest for insight, it works towards a catharsis. She offers no easy solutions. The book's climax does not come with the revelation of the secret, but in the process of coming to terms with it.
THE SECRET has been translated by Jeannette K. Ringold, who also translated last year's Toby Press English edition of THE MASTERPIECE.