Sunday, April 14, 2019

Review: The Forgotten Secret

Title: The Forgotten Secret
Author: Kathleen McGurl
Publisher: 1st March 2019 by HQ Digital
Pages: 285 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: romance, historical fiction
My Rating: 3.5 cups

Can she unlock the mysteries of the past?
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.
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.
My Thoughts

This was an engaging read set during two different time periods and centred around a farmhouse in Ireland. In the past there is Ellen and her experiences of life and love during the Irish Uprising of 1919 and the war of independence. In modern day there is 50 year old Clare embarking on a fresh start after leaving her critical and overbearing husband. The link, apart from the farmhouse, is personal documents discovered in a old armchair being reupholstered by Clare and she embarks to find their rightful owner.

Apart from solving the above mystery, the stories are separate with the only common theme centring around two women trying to get by. Both tales are easy to follow which can often be difficult in dual narratives. There are quite a few twists in both storylines - some realistic others, not so much.  I felt that the historical story held more appeal with the history of the IRA deftly woven throughout Ellen’s story.

I like the mystery Clare embarked on and how the author used the artefacts to link the narrative from the past. Ellen’s story is interspersed with rich historical detail of Ireland’s struggle for independence with solid experiences and is a rather sad tale. Clare’s story itself was not as strong. Whilst I appreciated having her older in age and questioning life’s meaning,  it all played out a little too conveniently with her actions to leave a bad marriage after so many years.

‘There’s something funny about being at my stage of life. OK, spare the jokes about the big change, but being 49 and having the big five-oh looming on the horizon does make you reevaluate who you are, what your life is like, and whether you’ve achieved your life’s dreams or not. Ever since my last birthday I’d been doing a lot of navel gazing. What had I done with my life?’

Overall, the story moved along at a good pace and I recommend this book to anyone who likes stories set in Ireland, with a strong focus on Irish independence.

‘The forgotten secret, buried in the depths of that old chair, now revealed and resolved.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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