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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Once You Know’
by Madeleine Van Hecke
First Lines

image of a woman sat reading by an open window - caption reads 'will these first few lines capture our imagination' - used as the image for Book Beginnings / First Lines, posts


This is a meme for all you ‘First Page Browsers’

Cover image of the book 'Once You Know' by author Madeleine Van Hecke




“The moist spring air smelled of newly-mown grass, and Colleen inhaled it greedily, as if the past dry months living in Arizona had left her parched. Just ahead, Izzy grabbed her father’s hand and jumped a puddle. Her black patent shoes didn’t quite clear the water, and gray droplets splattered her white tights. Colleen swallowed a reprimand.

Her restraint felt like a bargaining chip. She would be her best self this visit. In return, Izzy would behave as well as could be expected of any eight-year old. Rachel, already at the end of her first year in college, would be happy and easy after her performance this evening. And the sense of romance in the springtime air would linger through the night.

Oh, Colleen had so many hopes for this weekend!

They waited outside the auditorium for Colleen’s brother Shawn and his family. Derek was listening patiently to Izzy describe her favorite parts of the Children’s Museum when the soothing hum of their conversation suddenly broke. “I thought I was staying at the hotel with you and Mommy,” Izzy cried.

‘No, hon,’ Derek said.

Colleen interjected. ‘I told you, Izzy. You’re going home with Aunt Bea after the concert for a sleepover with Amber,’

Izzy glanced from one parent to the other, her mouth trembling. ‘I want to stay with you.’

Colleen pursed her lips.

Izzy spun toward her father. ‘Daddy!’

Colleen gave Derek a warning glance. But he wasn’t looking at her; he stared down at Izzy’s tear-streaked face. ‘It’s not a good idea, honey. Mommy’s right. You stay with Aunt Bea tonight.’

‘But Daddy!’ Izzy slammed herself against her father and clamped her thin arms around his waist. Derek had developed a small paunch this past year, and her cheek rested on the swell as if it was a pillow. His face went rigid. He unwound Izzy’s hands from his waist, bent down, and pressed her arms close to her sides. He held her in place and stepped back, almost at arm’s length. ‘No “but Daddy!” We’re going to do what Mommy wants.’

Relief vibrated through Colleen. But it was a relief mixed with a jittery feeling. How uncharacteristically stern Derek had sounded! And hadn’t he – if she admitted it to herself, if she let herself recall details she’d rather ignore – hadn’t he seemed tense once or twice earlier this trip, and not his usual, easygoing self? He’d been irritated at the long coffee line at the airport, at the delay taking off.”

Cover image of the book 'Once You Know' by author Madeleine Van Hecke

So, you have taken a sneak peek, would you read the book?

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Just to give you an extra helping hand, here is the book’s premise …

Image of author Madeleine Van Hecke


Cover image of the book 'Once You Know' by author Madeleine Van HeckeFeisty, Irish-Catholic Colleen Moretti thrust the letter into the back of a drawer. Her plan: ignore the fault line until the tremors pass. But her husband’s betrayal is far worse than Colleen suspects.

In this complex story of a family unraveling, both Colleen and her college-age daughter Rachel struggle to maintain their balance amidst feelings of love and loss, anger and betrayal. A gifted cellist, Rachel escapes into her music and her campus life, including her burgeoning romance with her first real boyfriend. But her coming of age tale is fraught with complications from what’s happening in her family. In her desperation to sustain hope, Colleen turns a blind eye to Rachel’s struggles. Instead, she clutches to her faith that preaches forgiveness and to the tender memories that preserve her image of the man she has known her husband to be. Mixed in this soup is eight-year-old Izzy, whom both Colleen and Rachel try to protect from the fallout of this conflict.

With two daughters caught in the middle of a crumbling marriage, one who would love to see her father cut out of their lives and the other who would be crushed to lose him, Colleen is trapped in a no-win situation. Colleen finally realizes she can’t save her daughters, her marriage, and herself, so… who will she choose?

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You might also like to visit Gilion, over at ‘Rose City Reader‘, where you can share links to the book beginnings from her own reading schedule and that of many of our fellow bloggers.

There are always plenty of new authors and titles to be discovered and you never know where that next ‘must read’ is going to come from!

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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    • Hi Felicity,

      I can guarantee there won’t be a dry eye in the house with this one!

      I did feel that one or two of the characters did need a good shake up, but then I have no idea how as either of them, I would have reacted in similar circumstances, so I might be being a bit too quick to judge!

      This is definitely one of my reads of the year and well worthwhile adding to your wish list.

      Thanks for stopping by, it seems like an age since we spoke, but then the time is simply flying by 🙂

    • Hi Lorraine,

      As a retired social worker, I think this storyline will be right up your street and unfortunately is probably one you came across all too often in your work!

      There are plenty of little twists in the storyline that add that an extra tug on the heart strings, and I just had to give it a ‘5 star favourites’ rating for the perceptive writing.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a good weekend 🙂

    • Hi Anne,

      Autumn has officially begun to arrive here in the UK and after weeks of very hot, dry weather, we have had so much rain in the past few days, that we are practically paddling around like ducks!

      I do like the smell of damp grass and bark though, it always makes everything seem clean and fresh, as well as making colours more vibrant!

      Freshly mown grass is a good substitute, although not so good for the hayfever early on in the season.

      I do think the cast of this family drama would long to be able to enjoy those simple things in life, after a few more pages of this story is told!

      Thanks for your support and enjoy your weekend 🙂

  • This sounds like a good departure from some of your crime/thriller fare, Yvonne. Unless, of course, this story turns sinister at some point! It certainly gets off to an interesting start.

    • Hi Kelly,

      This is definitely not a thriller by definition, although there are one or two sinister goings on. The entire book is very disturbing at its core storyline and highlights the choices we make and how we sometimes only see the things we want to see, choosing to brush the difficult to deal with things under the carpet!

      Sometimes I just wanted to shake Colleen and maybe give her a good slap but then I tried putting myself in her shoes and guess what, I have no real idea what I would do!

      It was another in the short run of very sad stories I seem to have acquired on my review schedule just recently, but don’t worry, I do have a good stack of psychological thrillers on their way later in the year!

      Seriously, my review is scheduled for October to coincide with the book’s release, but I gave it the full 5 stars and added it to my favourites shelf – it was excellent and I recommend 🙂

  • Oh dear. Sounds like book with no possible happy ending 🙁 I don’t know if I could read it right now. Thanks for sharing – enjoy your week!

    • Hi Becki,

      I don’t want to give too much away, but the ending isn’t quite as bad as you might be imagining!

      Once Colleen gets a grip and makes her choice there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel!

      I can understand that this might be a difficult read for some though, so thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.

      Have a good weekend 🙂

    • Hi Nikki,

      If I am being totally honest, this probably isn’t a book I would have chosen to buy for myself either. However, I am so pleased that I agreed to review it!

      It took a few days to finish, including time to sit and ponder about the horrifying storyline which was unfolding and what would I have done differently if I had been in either Colleen or Rachel’s position.

      As if that wasn’t enough, there were plenty of other equally terrible sub-stories going on in the background, which could have taken centre stage in their own right!

      A real soul-searching, heart-wrenching read, for sure!

      Thanks for stopping by to say hi! and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

Written by Yvonne