The Secrets of Others

By Anne Moir | Posted: Friday July 29, 2022

Dunedin writer, Anne Moir was born and raised in Southland. In 1970 she moved to Dunedin to study, and stayed. Navigator, her first novel, was published in 2017, and grew from her experiences as a child in the post-WWII era. Anne has enjoyed success in two short story competitions: she was placed second in 2020 in the Queenstown Writers Festival competition with a chapter from her second novel The Secrets of Others, and in 2022 was placed first in the Secret Lives Short Story Competition with her story ‘Perfect Modesty’.

The Secrets of Others (2022)continues the story of the Hassen family. Set in the 1960s and 1970s in Dunedin and rural Otago and Southland, The Secrets of Others tells the story of a young New Zealander, son of a traumatised WWII soldier. The novel opens on the pivotal day on which ANZAC infantryman Carl Hassen first goes out on patrol in Vietnam. Resourceful and protective ─ at twelve he saves his cousin, Helen, from drowning and later attacks his father to save his brother ─ Carl is unprepared for the reality of killing, the loss of comrades and the culture shock of the Vietnam war. Since his decision to fight, Carl is estranged from Helen, who is active in the peace and anti-nuclear movement in Dunedin. His return from Vietnam finds him in conflict not only with family but with many fellow citizens, critics of the war. Carl himself struggles to accept the person he has become and when he disappears, fears are held for his safety. Helen’s successful search for him brings reconciliation and trust to their relationship, while Carl’s experiences in Vietnam and the growing threat of global warfare cause him to re-evaluate his stance on war, reach a degree of peace about his father, and find a cause worth fighting for.

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