The story is a familiar and popular trope of a heroine inheriting a run-down house full of secrets. It follows two heroines in a dual-timeline set mostly in Ireland. I knew very little about Irish history so this was an easy and enjoyable way to discover more. The historical thread follows Ellen’s story in 1919 and her love affair with childhood sweetheart, Jimmy, against a backdrop of the escalation of the War of Independence. This demonstrates very well the uneasy and frightening experience of living in a country of divided political loyalties and how ordinary people can be forced into making uncomfortable choices. Ellen is brought vividly to life as she struggles to overcome tragedy.
Clare is the heroine of the contemporary strand. She must find the courage to leave her controlling husband and inheriting Clonamurty Farm provides her with the impetus she needs. Clare is a well-delineated heroine and McGurl describes the emotions of a woman caught up in the insidious growth of a mentally abusive and controlling relationship that systematically destroys her confidence. It takes a strong woman to break free and begin a new life, and possibly, to find love again.
I gave The Forgotten Secret four stars rather than five for two reasons. Firstly, Clare’s husband, Paul, was a touch too villainous. He would have been more believable if there had been some indication of the reasons for his controlling behaviour that might make the reader find him less two dimensional. Secondly, Clare’s story would have been more dramatic if there had been more obstacles in her way after moving to Ireland. Her progress felt a little too easy.
The Forgotten Secretis an enjoyable and absorbing story that kept me reading right to the end. I would like to thank NetGalley for an ARC copy of the book and this is my honest review.