Friday, 22 March 2019

New Release Spotlight & Review: The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

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.

Amazon UK      Amazon US 

With duel timeline, The Forgotten Secret, set in Ireland follows Clare Farrell who inherits a run-down farmhouse in Co. Meath and Ellen O'Brien, living in the same area one hundred years earlier.

When re-visiting the farm her Uncle Pádraig left her in his will, Clare's filled with nostalgia, whilst looking at the potential the run-down building has. A view not shared by her husband. Back home, with the support of her grown-up sons, she decides to seize an opportunity to build a new life for herself away from her verbally abusive marriage.

I admit, I didn't know much about Irish history before reading this novel and what little I knew was from a British perspective. Like Clare, I remembered the media and the news telling us about 'terrorist' incidents via the BBC. Therefore, I appreciated the research the author did and how she incorporated it into the narrative so I could understand the conflict between the UK and Ireland from an Irish point of view too.

'I felt a pang of excitement and nerves. Too right I wanted to see!! It could be a cellar, or a buried box of treasure, or an entrance to a secret tunnel...I realised I had probably read too many Enid Blyton books in my childhood, but then again, who wouldn't be excited uncovering a concealed trapdoor?'

Clare's enthusiasm for rebuilding her life is enhanced by her surroundings. Despite visiting her uncle's farm as a child, there's plenty to discover about the place and the past and I admired how she embraced her findings enough to research and seek out further information. Ellen's life, in contrast, highlights the difficulties of living in a politically volatile era where it is easy to end up in a situation which doesn't reflect your true views and feelings. I liked how the narrative highlights Ellen's plight and concerns and how a century later, the secrets are uncovered.

Overall, a delightful novel reflecting the lives of two women who have to overcome difficulties within their lives. It's insightful and all ties up beautifully at the end.

***arc generously received courtesy of HQ Digital via NetGalley*** 

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.

Twitter: @KathMcGurl

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