A Secret Music

ISBN: 9781770863675

Price: $21.95

Format: Trade Paperback

Size: 5.35" x 8.00"

Publication Date: May 01, 2015

FIC019000 FICTION / Literary
FIC014000 FICTION / Historical
FIC043000 FICTION / Coming of Age

Winner, 2016 Grace Irwin Prize
Shortlisted, 2017 Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors

“Brought to life by a sharp eye for physical and sensory detail and meticulous historical accuracy.”
Montreal Gazette

“A powerful debut.”
Toronto Star

“A pleasure of A Secret Music is how fond we grow of nearly all of the characters. Full disclosure: I cried at least once while reading this book and did not want to part with the Nolan family when I turned the last page. A Secret Music sings.”
Montreal Review of Books


Word Guild Award for Best Young Adult fiction 2016

Grace Irwin Award 2016

Literary Classics silver medal for Y/A fiction 2016

Shortlisted for the Frank Hegyi Award-Ottawa Independent Writers Literary Classics silver medal for High school fiction 2017


Set in 1936 Montreal, A Secret Music is the story of Lawrence Nolan, a sensitive fifteen-year-old piano prodigy who grows up in the shadow of his mother’s mental illness. Forced to keep this shameful secret, he attempts to raise himself and his ten year old brother. He counteracts the deep ache and creeping mistrust caused by his mother’s emotional absence by escaping into the intense realm of Chopin and Schubert, the only language he understands. When his brother becomes ill, he is left with enormous responsibilities. At a piano competition in Montreal, Lawrence makes a climactic decision that puts his future on hold in order to salvage his family life.

In A Secret Music, Susan Doherty Hannaford re-creates the Depression-Era world of Montreal and demonstrates how music can redeem a life.