Book Review

The Forgotten Secret – Kathleen McGurl

Let’s step back in time a way today in the wonderful dual timeline tale from Kathleen McGurl. Thank you so much to Kathleen and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for enabling me to be a part of the blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.


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.

cover from fb


Amazon UK


Although I don’t read an awful lot of out and out historical novels, I am quite a fan of dual timeline books that bounce back and forth between two storylines. I love trying to work out how everything is going to tie together by the end of the book, especially if it keeps me guessing pretty much to the end as this one did. I particularly enjoyed this one as I fell in love with Ireland many years ago on a road trip holiday, and anything that takes me back to that beautiful landscape is a winner as far as I am concerned.

I knew a bit about Irish history, the fight for independence that has stretched through the years, and the horrors of the Magdalene Laundries, but even with that knowledge, the introductory note was well worth the read as it sets the scenes well for the events of the book.

Although I enjoyed both Clare and Ellen’s stories, I did find myself more drawn to Ellen’s and the difficult life she led. Striking out on her own after years with a controlling husband can’t have been easy for Clare, but she always had her larger than life sons for support. For Ellen, living through a time when you had no idea who to trust, and at times being totally alone, it just must have been so frightening and my heart went out to her. As the two stories unfolded I found that I was totally invested in both Clare and Ellen, willing them along to the lives they deserved.

The Forgotten Secret is a beautifully written book that is devastating and heartwarming in equal measure, and is a story that I feel will stay with me for some time.


Kathleen McGurl author photoKathleen 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.






If you like the sound of this book, don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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