> Skip to content
Read an extract
Play sample
  • Published: 27 June 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761049279
  • Imprint: Michael Joseph
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $32.99

The Secrets of the Huon Wren




A deeply moving novel of love and loss set in the majestic mountains of Tasmania's Central Highlands.

Senior journalist Allira is writing a story for Folk magazine when she meets Nora, a nursing home resident with dementia and a doll cradled lovingly in her arms. Bit by bit, Nora reveals details about her younger life as a spirited teenage girl living beneath the Great Western Tiers in Tasmania’s heartland, of stitching linings into coffins, of her illicit romance with a charming Polish-German migrant, and of a family torn apart by heartbreak.

As the two women form an unlikely friendship, Allira becomes helplessly drawn into the old woman’s story. When Allira opens up to Nora about her own recent tragedy, the secrets embedded in the story of a carved Huon pine wren become the key to a life-changing discovery from the past. It is a revelation that finally fills in the missing pieces of Nora’s history and has the power to set them both free.

Set among the picturesque mountain ranges of Tasmania’s Central Highlands, and moving between the 1950s and the present day, The Secrets of the Huon Wren is a lyrical and highly evocative story about two lives connected by a shared tragedy, and a universal love.

  • Published: 27 June 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761049279
  • Imprint: Michael Joseph
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Claire van Ryn

Claire van Ryn is an awarded writer who began her career as a newspaper journalist, but has also filled roles as magazine editor, communications specialist, writing teacher, blueberry picker and shoe fitter. She lives in Tasmania and extensive travels have only affirmed her love for Australia’s southernmost island state. She recently spent a year travelling Australia with her husband and two children in a caravan. Creating is Claire’s favourite thing: whether with words, watercolours or whatever else is close at hand.

Praise for The Secrets of the Huon Wren

A mesmerising tale of love, heartache and healing . . . I laughed, I cried, I was totally swept away.

Sandie Docker

Two women. Two journeys. A tender, powerfully wrought telling of love and loss before the high mountains and rolling hills of Tasmania's rural north-west.

Robyn Mundy

They say we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but this story is beautiful inside and out. It follows the story of Tasmanian journalist, Allira, who meets dementia patient, Nora, at a Launceston nursing home one day, when she is there looking for an inspiring story to tell . . . Van Ryn cleverly melds together the story of a young Nora in the 1950s with Allira's modern day hunt for a truth long buried.

Mercedes Maguire, The Daily Telegraph

For a dedicated fiction reader such as myself, I would suggest that it's rare for a debut novel to be as dazzlingly accomplished as this one. The writing style, character evocation and storytelling reveal a natural-born novelist with a bright future.

Anne Lim, Eternity magazine

The writing is elevated and breathtaking in parts. The story is believable and never tips into being overly sentimental. It is grounded, beautiful and real, which helped me connect with all the characters instantly. I was so invested in the story that my life just seemed to fall away around me.

Nicola SKinstad, Good Reading

Such a poignant, tender read—I loved it!

Tess Woods

A tender and moving story told over two timelines and linking two fascinating women... Set between 2019 and the 1950s it tackles complex subjects with heart. A beautiful book and an absorbing read.

Sarah Jones, Fox Footy

Discover more

Article
Better Reading’s Top 100 books of 2024 announced

Penguin Random House is proud to have twenty-four titles on the list this year.

Article
Debut authors share their best tips for aspiring authors

The Fresh Voices of 2023 share their advice with fellow writers. Whether you’re aspiring to get your book published or looking for writing tips, these words of wisdom will help.

Article
The Secrets of the Huon Wren book club questions

A deeply moving novel to read with your book club.

Article
Claire van Ryn shares her unique 3-step writing process

Plus, find out what inspired Claire's first novel and how her previous work experience helped her write The Secrets of the Huon Wren.