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Publisher's Summary

Elderly. Is that how the world sees me? A helpless little old lady? If only they knew. I allow myself a small smirk.

When Shirley Sullivan signs her 83-year-old husband, Frank, out of the Sunset Lodge Nursing Home, she has no intention of bringing him back. 

For 57 years the couple has shared love, happiness and heartbreak. And while Frank may not know who his wife is these days, he knows he wants to go home. Back to the beach where they met in the early 1960s.

So Shirley enacts an elaborate plan to evade the authorities - and their furious daughter, Fiona - to give Frank the holiday he'd always dreamed of.

And, in doing so, perhaps Shirley can make amends for a lifelong guilty secret....

©2020 Lisa Ireland (P)2020 Penguin Random House Australia

Critic Reviews

"An endearing novel about one gutsy, smart and inspirational woman. I want to be Shirley when I grow up." (Rachael Johns)

"With both humour and heart, The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan takes the reader on a (literal) journey - in a Kombi van! - following one couple's unconventional love story, and examining the lengths a person will go to to right the wrongs of a lifetime. This is Lisa Ireland's breakout novel for sure." (Sally Hepworth)  

What listeners say about The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-26-21

Not enough stars to rate this book

I just loved every bit of it. Such a touching story. The performance by Harriet and Deborah that seem to have different ages, as per the tone of their voices, was just perfect. Thank you Lisa Ireland for such a beautiful story!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-01-21

Loved it - couldn't stop listening

I have enjoyed every minute of this book, laughing and crying the whole way through. Lisa has done a great job of taking the listener on the journey with Frank and Shirley. I really enjoyed having the two narraters and found it made it easy to distinguish between the past and present.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer2
  • 05-11-21

This was different

Sn enjoyable story with various aspects. Remarkably good narration. Laugh out loud humour at times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Knitchic54
  • 05-04-21

The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan

The start of this story seemed very vanilla and just when I was berating Shirley to get a ‘real life’ she suddenly blossomed. The ‘60’s housewife and settings were authentic and well researched. I appreciated the story even more when I read the author’s bio and her motivation for writing this book.

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  • J M WRATT
  • 07-08-20

Brilliant- The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan

Brilliant book, had me right from the start. Shirley Sullivan has a huge heart. I laughed and cried. Truly wonderful. Joy to read.

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  • MrsMcD
  • 06-24-21

Disappointing

I'm not sure how this book made my wishlist ...... but I was coerced by the high ratings .... I stayed with this book hoping that it would turn a corner - but unfortunately no, in my opinion it lacked depth. It was way too long, too much meaningless detail. I need to be more discerning in interpreting the high reviews of other listeners ..... a week of my listening life will never be regained.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-24-21

A compelling story of love

Possibly one of the best stories I have read. A memorable and moving story of family and love. I could not put it down.

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  • Jhullie
  • 06-12-21

Love never fades

This is a beautiful story about the strength of love through the harrowing journey of Alzheimer’s. Having watched my darling Dad retreat further and further into the mist of his memories, this was a particularly difficult, yet uplifting, book for me.

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  • Clare
  • 06-04-21

"Olds on the run."

This is a story full of empathy, warmth, human frailty and a tinge of suspense.Growing older and losing control of our lives is something we all fear .A book having a badass grandmother straining against the norm as the protaganist, is a stroke of genius.Shirley has more than one secret. Sometimes the book moves a bit too slowly for my liking at times going over old ground but picks up again with a little perseverance.The narration was generally excellent, however the narrator only learned how to pronounce Bairnsdale two thirds of the way through the book, and for some reason as a Victorian hearing that placename mispronounced really grated with me. However that being said an enjoyable read to wile away some long drives and enough momentum to keep you coming back ...Spoiler alert in next sentence- ............I found the ending a bit of a cop out.

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  • Christine
  • 06-04-21

A gem, what a fabulous story.

I usually read thrillers and suspense novels but this came up in my feed and I thought "Oh well, give it a go" and I am so very glad I did. It's a novel for woman and its a fantastic journey. Try it....