Retired Bolsover hairdresser reveals her mum's secrets in captivating book about family life

Retired hairdresser Monica Drew recalls that she was an inquisitive child who often asked her parents about how they met in Austria and their time together in north Derbyshire.

By Gay Bolton
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 2:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 2:39 pm
Monica at the age of 10 with her mum Maria on a journey to Germany to visit Maria's sister.
Monica at the age of 10 with her mum Maria on a journey to Germany to visit Maria's sister.

But throughout her life Monica always felt that her mother was holding something back.

She said: "My mum had problems but it wasn't until I was in my fifties that I realised why she had got these problems - because she had got secrets."

Despite several clues down the years it was a relative from Austria who eventually filled Monica in on what her mum was hiding from her.

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Sworn to secrecy, Monica never told her mum what she had found out. She gave up her hairdressing salon, which she had run in Bolsover for 42 years, to care for her mum Maria, who passed away at the age of 100 in 2012, and dad Victor, who was 89 when he died in 2009.

Monica is good at keeping a secret, refusing to give away the big reveal even when she's got a book to promote.

The novice author's first publication, Hidden Secrets, answers the big question....just what did Monica's mum find so hard to share from her earlier years in Austria?

It's the twist in a captivating story about Monica's parents, how they met at the end of the Second World War when her dad was in the Royal Army Medical Corps, their life together in Holmewood, Grassmoor and Bolsover and the happy times and challenges which the family experienced.

Monica, 73, of Valley Road, Bolsover, said she found it hard work writing the book. "I couldn't switch off, I'd be watching the television and something would click in my head, I'd go to bed with it on my mind, thinking how do I start the next chapter? It's put ten years on me."

What kept her going was the encouragement of her long-term friend Maxine Dixon, who lives in Barlborough, and Monica's next-door neighbour Hannah Broderick.

Monica said: "My husband and I used to go hiking with Maxine and her husband and she would ask me about my Mum. She used to say 'I don't know why you don't write a book and I'd say 'I can tell a good story but I can't write a book'.

"During lockdown I was bored, so for my own enjoyment I thought I'd write the story of how Mum and Dad met. I'd done two or three chapters and emailed it to Maxine to read and she said it was brilliant and asked when the next chapter was coming out. I sent it to Hannah and asked her to tell me the honest truth, her reaction was the same as Maxine's and she asked for more chapters."

Monica spent 18 months writing her parents' story which includes her own memories. After 30,000 words and countless sleepless nights, she took her work to a publisher who persuaded to write even more!

A first print run of Hidden Secrets has produced 150 copies and more than two-thirds of those have already been sold.

Monica said: "I am totally surprised at the good reviews and comments. I am pleased that people are enjoying it."

Hidden Secrets, priced £7.99, is on sale at bannisterpublications.com/bookstore, Tourist Information Centre in Chesterfield and The Bargain Box in Bolsover.