For myself, the mark of a good novel is any novel that draws you in and leaves you feeling emotionally invested by the time you’ve read the last line. I’ve read a few books this week and while they’ve kept boredom at bay, one stood out as a “really, really good book.” It sucked me in, held me captive, and left me feeling like I found a great friend right to the very end… which sounds a little like Stockholm syndrome… but I assure you I mean it all in a positive way.
The Forgotten Secret, written by new-to-me author Kathleen McGurl, was a story that made me say, “Now that’s my kind of book!” It has a 4.22 star (out of 5) rating on Goodreads so I’m obviously not in the minority when it comes to this title. It was oh-so-perfectly suited to my reading needs.
(On a funny side note, my 11-year-old son is sitting on the couch beside me. He’s been reading “No Better Friend” as his choice for a biographical book report. He doesn’t enjoy book reports or forced reading – although he does enjoy reading, but won’t admit it. Anyhow… I digress. While he’s sitting beside me, he glances over and sees the title of my post and asks why I’m writing a book report. I explain how I’m given books to read in exchange for my opinions and that sounded a bit too much like the schoolwork he’s procrastinating about and he just couldn’t understand why I would do this. I feel like an island in this home some days…)
In The Forgotten Secret two seemingly unconnected women in different eras deal with the obstacles life has thrown at them. It’s a novel of their struggles, decades apart, on finding independence, on becoming strong and vibrant versions of themselves. We’re drawn into their stories with unique perspectives and challenges that each have to deal with, sink or swim.
The contemporary heroine, Clare, comes into an inheritance of a ramshackle Irish farmhouse, providing her with the opportunity and means to leave an abusive, manipulative marriage. Our historical heroine, Ellen, struggles with finding her way in love and loyalty as Ireland is torn apart in turmoil and civil unrest. A hidden secret in the farmhouse tie the two women together as they navigate their individual lives. A bridge is built between past and present as Clare researches further into the treasure she’s found.
Ms. McGurl does a wonderful job of negotiating the dual-timeline without leaving the reader lost. She paints vivid, colourful pictures and infuses her novels with real characters and strong emotion. She plucks the purportedly random strings of each story and weaves them all into a heartwarming tale of triumph and courage. Effortlessly, the elements between past and present intersect and we’re left with a multi-faceted gem that brings mystery, friendship, romance, and loyalty to a touching conclusion that may (or may not) have (but definitely did) leave me with tears of longing and joy. 4.5 stars from me!
I was provided with a copy of this title via Netgalley with thanks to the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Published by: HQ Digital
Publication Date: March 1, 2019