March has arrived with the daffodils, some gorgeous days interspersed with storms. With the rain and wind outside, I have been enjoying snuggling in the warm reading. I am pleased to share my review for The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl. When I am out I love seeing old doors, the quirkier or unusual the better and always wonder about the secrets that lie behind them. The image on this cover with the protagonist standing in the entrance of green weather beaten door caught my imagination making me want to follow her so I was thrilled to be offered a place on this tour with Rachel Random Resources.
Book Review: The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl
Title: The Forgotten Secret
Author: Kathleen McGurl
Genre: Women’s Fiction, historical
Publisher: HQ Digital
Release date: 1st March 2019
A country at war
It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.
And a long-buried secret
A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.
For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.
I do not know much about Irish history, the formation of Northern Ireland and its complex relationship with Britain except from the odd bits I have picked up from the news and books. In the present day political climate it has never been more important to learn and I’m grateful for the insight this book gave me into the War of Independence and beyond. I appreciated the summary of events at the beginning which helped in the understanding Ellen’s story.
The Forgotten Secret has a dual timeline. One story is set in 1996 with Clare finding her feet as she claims her independence from her overbearing husband after she inherits a tumbling down cottage in Ireland. The other follows Ellen as she gets a job as a maid in 1919. Clashes between the Irish volunteers and the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) turn her life turned upside down. Loyalties between family and friends are stretched to the limits. Reading about the past events and people’s lives in Ireland was shocking and left me reeling. It started many conversations which is always a good by-product of a well researched novel.
Both characters intrigued me; they were both stronger than they thought they could be and working towards independence but it was Ellen and the increased tension building in her life which drove the novel forward. From the beginning, I needed to know what happened to her and her childhood sweetheart. Kathleen McGurl captured the fear of the time with her words. It was only as Clare’s story unfolded and the farmhouse revealed the keys to the mystery in her family I formed a solid connection to her. By the end, I was hooked on both timelines.
Would I recommend?
Yes, it is an emotional, thought-provoking read with strong women finding their own way. The blend of history, love and mystery makes it a good book for reading under the duvet or in the garden enjoying the sun. I have never read any of the author’s book before so I am delighted to add some more books to my TBR.
Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.
Social Media Links –
Twitter: @KathMcGurl https://twitter.com/KathMcGurl
Thank you Rachel Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and Kathleen McGurl and HQ Digital for giving me to read an advanced copy so I could give an unbiased, honest review.
Have you read any books based in Ireland about the Troubles? Let me know in the comments below as I would love to know more about this subject.
P.S If you would like to know more about the book and author, why not pop over to the other blogs on the tour. Info given below.