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    A Multifaceted Gem

    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. Full blog post here: https://lifelovelaughterlinds.home.blog/2019/03/23/book-review-the-forgotten-secret/
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    Haunting

    The Forgotten Secret is compelling, intriguing, and haunting. It’s told in a dual-timeline and held my attention and got to me emotionally the entire way through. Kathleen McGurl’s writing is excellent here. There was some telling rather than showing, however, Ireland’s harsh past is well-depicted, and the story is moving. I enjoyed the dual-timeline. Not every book that attempts this succeeds, but The Forgotten Secret does this so well. I loved both Claire and Ellen’s stories and how they were brought together in the end. This is a gripping and emotional story. I recommend checking it out! *I read this book as part of a blog tour with Rachel's Random Resources. All opinions are my own.*
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    Pensive, interesting, and insightful!

    The Forgotten Secret is an intriguing tale predominantly set in County Meath during the summer of 1919, as well as present day, and is told from two perspectives, Clare, a middle-aged woman who stumbles across long-hidden family secrets after moving to Clonamurty Farm to rediscover herself and start afresh, and Ellen, a young girl in love who finds herself unexpectedly caught up in her country’s fight for self-identity and independence against Anglo rule. The writing is fluid and thoughtful. The characters are strong, kindhearted, and courageous. And the engaging and fascinating plot is written in a past/present style that sweeps you back and forth through all the highs and lows of both Clare and Ellen’s life. Overall, I would have to say that The Forgotten Secret is a warm, compelling, absorbing novel that does a lovely job of highlighting and reminding us of a time, where for years, Ireland endured rebellion, oppression, political upheaval, and economic instability.
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    Great historical fiction.

    My Rating: 4.5 Stars 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.
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    Learning and enjoying

    * ARC Review* The story was written as a narrative with dual first person point of views. The conflict was characters, self, and society. The characters are described in a direct characterization method. The theme includes popular ones such as war and peace, survivale, courage and heroism, love, death, coming of age, and power and corruption, but all in a way of mystery for two different women in two different time frames. There are two main protagonist in this story one in 1919 and one in 2019. The first is eighteen year old Ellen O’Brien a sweet young small town Irish girl who has her whole life ahead of her. She is a round character who mostly depends on herself, her main love interest is a young soldier in the revolution named Jimmy, she has no real confidant but an antagonist in her father and fellow house maid. She goes through a dynamic change as the war changes her whole world in multiple ways. The second is Clare Farrell an unhappy married woman who is looking for her own independence. Clare is a round character who is unsure what the world has in store for her after she realizes how manipulative her husband has become. Clare goes through a dynamic change of independence as her sons and new friend Janice act as her confidants. Her main antagonist is her soon to be ex-husband Paul who will stop at nothing to control her life, but also the old dilapidated farmhouse she now calls home. The exposition shows Paul and Clare, an English couple exploring the old Irish Farmhouse and wondering what to do with the inheritance of it, while it shows Ellen getting ready to leave her father’s house for the first time to for her first job and the return of school chum Jimmy. The rising action shows Clare leaving her husband and beginning her new journey to Ireland and the first few days of her settling in while Ellen has learned of the war for independence of Ireland from Great Britain and its impact in almost every aspect of her life. The climax is hit when Clare’s 50th birthday appears and it seems everybody wants to celebrate, including her ex-husband Paul, Ellen has learned that Jimmy is now on the run and wanted but they share one true night together. The falling action deals with aftermath of Paul’s visit and Jimmy and Ellen’s night together. The resolution is all about combining the two separate stories into one and allowing the past to meet and reconcile with the present. The author’s use of organization by using two separate time frames and characters allows the story to flow and be easily followed while being insightful. The word choice and structure makes it easy to understand even if you have never learned about Irish history. Yes, I would recommend this book. To anyone who enjoys a good historical mystery, women of different generations learning the same lessons, and anyone interested in Irish history. This book is not for those who oppose the civil war in Ireland, do not like dealing with women being shun and sent away, or dislike any sense of war being involved in a story.
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