“Ben Nuttall-Smith relates Paddy’s story simply, thoroughly, and straightforwardly, and offers many useful insights. Inevitably, there’s tragedy in his story. Yet he manages to handle it with good humour.
For the hope this novel offers, I recommend Secrets Kept / Secrets Told to all men. I especially recommend it to members of men’s groups, who labour with issues of personal recovery and fellowship.”
– David C. Manning
professional counsellor and leader of men’s groups (retired)
“In picture evoking language and dialogue, Ben Nuttall-Smith brings Paddy’s life and era into sharp focus. Going beyond abuse survival, this novel is a triumph about living fully.”
– Bernice Lever
writer and editor, Canadian Authors Association
“Paddy not only survives the misplaced guilt of childhood rape, he carries the weight of instilled Catholic guilt. Then members of the religious order to which he had dedicated thirteen years of his life are convicted for child sexual abuse. Guilt by association is added to an already overburdened conscience and the load becomes unbearable. Despite all this, the protagonist retains his faith conviction.”
– Nora Sterling
Retired Counselling Psychologist
“I have read Ben’s novel cover to cover, could not put it down … an amazing read, highlighting the uniqueness of each human being’s life relating to God, neighbour and self in their journey to wholeness.”
– Father Tom Nicholson
Secrets Kept / Secrets Told, Paddy’s story of Personal Growth, relates a journey of healing, showing that anyone can heal from abuse and PTSD, giving readers insight and hope. The story documents a lifetime of running from the debilitating guilt of childhood sexual and physical abuse. Throughout most of his life, Paddy didn’t know why he was running or from what. This autobiographical novel chronicles the journey from silence, to denial, to a healed, healthy, and creative, love relationship with a wonderful partner.
Accounts are raw and authentic, interspersed with humour and understanding, illustrating that sometimes one must break down to break through and that it is never too late to reclaim a thriving and joyful life.
Ben Nuttall Smith’s biographical novel, Secrets Kept / Secrets Told, is a testament to survival. Based on the author’s experience of running from the buried memories and shame of horrific sexual abuse during the London Blitz, Ben’s protagonist travels to French Canada and further bullying. At 17, he joins the Navy and is almost happy, for a while. Forever running into impossible situations, he meets near death attempting to help Afro Americans in the Southern US. Desperate to find acceptance and love, 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. Still the trauma of his childhood catches up, eventually destroying career and marriage.
As an artist on the Sunshine Coast, he is finally able to confront his childhood terrors and begin the road of recovery that brings him true love and the full blossoming of his creativity.
As one who has known sexual abuse, participated in recovery and had the privilege of helping men and women come to terms with their pasts, I highly recommend this moving book that celebrates the human spirit. 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.
– William Hay
MD FRCPC (Psychiatry) CSAM (Addiction Medicine)
about the author
Ben Nuttall-Smith taught Music, Theatre, Art, and Language until he retired in 1991. He now lives in Crescent Beach, near Vancouver B.C., where he writes, paints, makes music, and travels with his best friend and soulmate.
An active member of the Writers Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors’ Association, the Federation of British Columbia Writers, and the Canadian Poetry Association, Ben has published three books of poetry Word Painting, Splashes of Light and Scribbles from Afar and an illustrated children’s story Henry Hamster Esquire. His first novel Blood, Feathers and Holy Men was published by Libros Libertad in January, 2011.