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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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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!

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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.

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A slow start

It took a little while to grab me but I’m so happy to have persisted. It is a true love story. Not the bullshit romantic kind but the enduring love that we have for all the people in our lives for all the different reasons. It has softened me as a person.

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  • Jon
  • 11-05-2021

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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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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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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What a great story

Lisa knows how to bring her characters to life and to take us on an adventure with Shirley and Frank. This story really makes you think about your family and what would be best for them.
Lisa made me laugh throughout the story. I highly recommend you read or listen to this book.

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best all rounder

narrators best ever. great story .loved it. very strong characters story line so sad at times & then it lifts your spirits up with courage & love

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The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan

I found this book very hard to put down .It was very interesting in the life's of people in the 60 Then when you get old you don't have any say what happens to you . I really liked all the character

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What a beautiful story

I just loved this story, so beautifully written I couldn't stop reading or should I say listening, it was accompanied me on my walks everyday ❤ 😍 💕

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.