Our ReviewsThe Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw


I was so thrilled to receive this gorgeous paperback of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies from the team at @pushkin_press just before I went on holiday. Apart from a minor accident involving the pool behind me and a rather lengthy session with a hairdryer to salvage the last thirty pages before they disintegrated into nothingness, reading this was a complete and utter joy.

It’s a collection of stories really but somehow it didn’t feel like it; there are nine altogether but they flowed completely seamlessly. Focusing on the innermost lives of Black women and girls; sexuality, relationships, faith and friendship as well as the secrets and forbidden love interwoven through out. And, of course, the Church’s own double standards.

@deeshaphilyaw is an exceptional writer; every story felt like a completely delectable treat and it’s so hard to pick an absolute favourite. Opening with the story of Eula and Caroletta, two best friends who have an ‘arrangement’ every New Year’s Eve; one knows exactly who she is but not where she stands because the other can’t truly accept herself and the situation they’ve found themselves in.

Then, the siblings whose mother has dementia; the son who does so little for her but who she still remembers and adores. And the daughter — Daughter, she calls her — who she can’t who has been there, taking her in and caring for her with every ounce of her being. It’s a moving and heartbreaking piece that will bring a lump to any throat.

The young girl whose mother makes the best peach cobbler in town. She’s having an affair with their Pastor; she has to keep their secret to keep a roof over their head. 

There’s so much to take in from this one; skilfully crafted, incredibly poignant and thoroughly deserving of all the praise it has received across the board, I’ve absolutely loved it. Just don’t ask to borrow mine as I’m still blow drying it ~ S

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