Between the covers: The Secret by Katharine Johnson

Book reviews are relatively new to me – but they are fast becoming something I really enjoying featuring on this blog; and I’m chuffed and honoured to be part of a book tour for The Secret by Katharine Johnson hosted by Blooming Book Tours, released June 2018.

#bookworm #blookblogger #blookbloggers #bbloggers #booktour #books #katharinejohnson #thesecret #bookstoread #mustread #mustreads

The Blurb

Love, lies and betrayal in wartime Italy.

Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War friendship is tested and loyalties divided but a chance encounter changes everything.

The girls’ lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher. But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as her best friend’s life takes on a new purpose Irena finds herself left behind.

Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds. While Irena’s son is determined to get to the truth about the village’s past, Martina’s daughter is desperate to keep it hidden.

My thoughts

Historical fiction is my favourite kind of read and The Secret looked like my ideal read with a twist of mystery.  I was hooked from the first page – every chapter has you wanting more and it keeps you guessing right until the very end.  The book flawlessly flits between the 1940s and present day and the way the flashbacks and time changes are tied in is really clever.

The book does tie in with an earlier book, The Silence, however it’s not a sequel and while some characters are the same The Secret is a standalone novel and you can read the books front-to-back or back-to-front, it really doesn’t matter.

The book is written with enough description to set the scene perfectly but it’s not overbearing; as a reader I like to be able to use my imagination and set the scene in my head – and this book has the balance spot on.  It touches on a few Italian words and phrases but they fit really well and are explained.

As a historical read the book touches on the periods and gives you the right amount of information to keep you in the loop yet not bore you to tears – again a perfect balance.


The book deals with several generations – there are quite a few characters yet the stories of each person are easy to follow and you can put the book down and pick it up without having to read back several chapters to refresh your memory.  Everyone seems to have a secret – each story is very cleverly written and woven in to the main plot.


I really don’t want to delve into the book in any more detail than I have as I don’t want to spoil it for others – but The Secret is an awesome read – very clever and well written and I was totally immersed from start to finish.

As above it’s useful know that this book stands alone but is a second story that stems from The Silence(published last year); you don’t need to have read the other book but it’s it helpful to know that it included the discovery of some bodies at Villa Leonida which relate back to the summer of 1992 – which is where this book begins.

I’d not heard of Katharine Johnson but I will certainly look forward to many more books of hers in the future, The Secret was an absolute pleasure to read and I would thoroughly recommend it.

The Secret by Katharine Johnson is available on Kindle and Paperback – click here to buy.

Win a signed copy of THE SECRET!  (UK residents only):

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Book Details

Title: The Secret
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Publication Date: 1 st June 2018
Formats (paperback, Kindle etc): paperback; Kindle
ISBN: 9781717003652
Genre: house-of-secrets/mystery/historical
Page Count: 266

You can find my previous book reviews here.

3 thoughts on “Between the covers: The Secret by Katharine Johnson

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