Sunday, March 10, 2019

Review - The Forgotten Secret

Author:  Kathleen McGurl
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Publisher:   HQ Digital
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  285
Date of Publication:  March 1, 2019
My Rating:  4.5 Stars

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.

For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence.


Clare Farrell has inherited an old farmhouse in County Meath, Ireland. The timing couldn't be more perfect because she had been looking for a way to end a very unhappy marriage. She takes control and leaves her husband for Ireland and is determined to make a go of it. As she starts to reupholster a chair, she finds something that looks like it might be the key to discovering her past.

The timeline shifts in this story to July 1919 with Ellen O'Brien, young, idealistic and in love. She leaves home for a job that ends up involving her in the war currently taking place. The man she is in love with is involved in the turmoil that is destroying Ireland. What ensues then changes her life and that of others irrevocably.

What Clare finds has been buried to decades and she might just find a long-lost relative. Meanwhile, her sons offer great moral support. All the while, her past with her husband is never far from her mind, especially as he is not quite ready to let their marriage go.

The Forgotten Secret seamlessly shifts between past and secret. The past is rather exciting, albeit tragic with regard to Ireland struggling for independence from Britain. Also, what Ellen experienced for a time there in Ireland, at what was referred to as The Magdalene Laundries, was nothing less than tragic. Sadly, what happened there, also referred to as asylums was based on real history. With regard to Clare, we have a woman needing to reestablish herself, and even entertaining new friends and a possible love interest.

This was an enjoyable story in essence, although quite sad at times. Not only was I able to read it in one sitting, Most times when history is mixed in with a dual timeline like this it can be rather interesting, as this book proved. I am definitely looking forward to much more from Kathleen McGurl.

Many thanks to HQ Digital and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Kathleen McGurl is a writer of dual timeline novels, in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and cat, and has two grown-up sons who have now moved out. When not writing she is either working at the day-job (IT for a large retail organisation) or running along the Bournemouth prom, slowly.

Her novels have been published by Carina UK and HQ (HarperCollins), and are available as ebooks from all online retailers. Some are also available as paperbacks and audio books. Click the novel titles above for more information and buy links for each book.

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