LEIGH FORBES: Books of all Sorts

The Forgotten Secret


by Kathleen McGurl.

Clare Fuller’s uncle has died, and bequeathed her his home in Ireland. Seizing the opportunity to escape her abusive husband, Clare moves to County Meath and takes up residence in Clonamurty Farm. There she finds items hidden by earlier residents – from the time of Irish War of independence in 1920 – which lead to a mystery about who those people were, and why these, apparently precious, items should have been so well secreted.

Leapfrogging each chapter of Clare’s struggle to be rid of her husband’s influence, is the story of Mary-Ellen O’Brien, and her sweetheart Jimmy, who (in 1920) was a Volunteer for the Irish Republican Army, fighting for freedom from English rule. As Clare gradually gains control of her life, Ellen’s seems to spiral more and more out of control as the English tighten their grip on her region, and she is forced into an increasingly desperate situation.

This book feels well researched. McGurl writes with confidence and compassion about difficult subjects. I honestly can’t speak for the Irish history aspect (I know little outside what I’ve learned from reading this book and The Girl from Ballymoor), she absolutely nails her presentation of coercive control, including the use of both more subtle and varying tactics (which many authors overlook).

I adore McGurl’s time-slip novels. You get two for the price of one, and The Forgotten Secret is no exception: two stories, beautifully interwoven, finally coming together in a strong and satisfying conclusion.

Buy now: Kindle (£2.99) | Paperback (£11.43)


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