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The Keeper of Secrets

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  912 ratings  ·  181 reviews
Beautiful and mysterious, this debut novel follows a priceless violin across five decades-from WWII to Stalinist Russia to the gilded international concert halls of today-and reveals the loss, love, and secrets of the families who owned it.

A priceless violin. A family torn apart. A decision that could change everything.

Berlin, 1939. Fourteen year old Simon Horowitz is awas
Paperback, 356 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by HarperCollins (first published September 2nd 2011)
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Seduction by M.J. RoseThe Aviator's Wife by Melanie BenjaminThe Firebird by Susanna KearsleyThe Midwife's Tale by Sam   ThomasThe White Princess by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction 2013
153rd out of 614 books — 2,392 voters
The Winter Sea by Susanna KearsleyThe Firebird by Susanna KearsleyThe Master's Plan by Stephany TullisThe Secret Keeper by Kate MortonDragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Multiple / Dual story lines
35th out of 87 books — 62 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

"The Secret Keeper" is the story of two families (one German Jewish and the other Russian) who are bound together by a single, priceless instrument: a 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin.

The Horowitz family loses everything in the Holocaust, including the precious instrument ... which, through a variety of circumstances becomes the property of the Valentino family. We see the story of both families, across several generations, beginning before the onset of WWII and ending in
A violin, a family, a war, a young musician

"I would like to dedicate this piece to poppa (grandfather) and to all my family I never knew". Daniel Horowitz, a 14 year old violinist, says this prior to performing at one concert. His family is Jewish, from Berlin and many of them perished in the camps during World War II. They also had all their worldly goods stolen from them including a priceless 1742 Guarneri del Gesu. This is the story of that instrument and the people who played it and cared fo
Jul 30, 2013 Sarala rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, Violin-Lovers
It's said that good things come in small packages. How true has that proven to be in this case.

I'm a student of violin. Violin is where I escape to, a place far away from my worries. So this book was a treat for me.

For this books protagonist is not a person, but a thing. If you can call a violin a thing, that is. The book revolves around a German family's attachment to their heritage.

To read the rest, go here/a>
Michelle Silvestri-Oetinger
Very Pleased that I chose this book for a book club read. It caught my interest from the start. I enjoyed the parts of the book that describe family relationships and how the war affected those relationships. For me, it got a little complicated with the switching of the 1930's and present time and keeping all characters straight. I definately would read another book by this author.
A heart-wrenchingly good book that I didn't want to put it down. The life of the violin is a wonderful tribute to things lost and found. I would recommend this book to all of my friends as the story sucks you in and leads you through a wonderful journey of life and love.
Upon finishing this book I wasn't sure know how else to describe it except that it's almost beautiful. In a way, it's kind of like a painting, in that even though I've seen (or in this case read) it once, I can't help but look back on it and smile.

The book includes three main story lines. The first is Daniel Horowitz, a fourteen-year-old violin prodigy, who isn't quite ready to devote his life to music. The second part, tells the tale of Daniel's grandfather Simon Horowitz, and the horrors he li
This is one of the books I love most in the world. Saying thank you to "The Keeper of Secrets" author, Julie Thomas, will never come close to expressing how much I see and feel in her writing, and and how much I treasure the story she brought to life for all of us.
Paula Howard

WOW!!! The Secret Keeper is a must read. The Secret Keeper is about music, WWII, the loss suffered by the Jews at the hands of the Nazi and human nature. The story goes fact and forth in time between the present day and WWII Germany with the same Jewish family. It is easy to follow and you are able to see the cause and effect of the events. The Secret Keeper is about the power of music - especially on the violin. The characters are so real you feel their pain. Julie Thomas has the ability to wri
Elisha (lishie)
A beautiful, heart-wrenching story about a violin, a boy, family provenance, as well as innate gifts. Reading this I actually felt the music. Enough history to take my breath away... I cared for the characters deeply, in the present as well as the past & that all makes this a very well-written historical fiction novel for me.
This book is incredibly good. I won it on Goodreads giveaways and I'm so glad I did or I might not have discovered this author. I love Julie Thomas. I don't want to say anything about this story because I want you to discover all its magic on your own. I couldn't put it down.
What I liked:

Development of characters.
Intense - it was a page turner.
WWII time period

What I didn't like:

Strong language: (numerous F words)
Wow, what beautiful writing...I loved this book. It made me very emotional. Thank you Elizabeth for the recommendation :)
Antony Millen
"The Keeper of Secrets" is written by Cambridge, New Zealand author, Julie Thomas. I first heard about Thomas and her book just over a year ago in an article in the "New Zealand Herald" ( I had just published my first novel and was intrigued and inspired by her story as she, too, penned her novel while others slept and while she maintained a full-time career. I was also captured by her success at the time. After rejections from publishing houses, Thomas ...more
“The Keeper of Secrets” by Julie Thomas captured my heart on many levels. It is a well written and emotional read. This is the story of a very special violin, the love of baseball and music, and Simon Horowitz’s wealthy Jewish family. It also is about the impact of World War II, Communist Russia and the horror of Dachau. This is a well researched book and part of the emotional scenes reminded me of several other books I have read such as The Book Thief and Rose Colored Glass. In this story, Thom ...more
Julie Thomas can write. This book reads like it was written by a bona fide published best selling author. Currently it is a free kindle download - absolute proof that there are truly talented authors out there sharing their works for free.

The Secret Keeper tells the history of a priceless antique violin, through WW2 to modern times. On this description alone it is not perhaps a book I would have necessarily chosen myself. It's hard to try and shove it neatly into a genre - little bit of mystery
I really liked this book, possibly as the main characters - a young violin virtuoso and an interesting orchestra conductor - are such likable people. Also, part of the story takes place during the WWII time period and I always like books written about that period of time. This book has a way of flowing so softly, smoothly that makes it such an easy read. And difficult to put down. I liked the way that it flows between the WWII Germany time period and then to the present day, very seamlessly.

I received a copy of The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas as an Early Reviewer for in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions.

Initially, I did not think I was going to enjoy The Keeper of Secrets. The author's writing style was distracting with the abundance of adjectives used to describe every person, place and thing. I am not sure if, over several chapters, I became accustomed to Ms. Thomas' writing style or if the author's writing changed as her novel progressed, but I
It's been a while since I read anything WW2 / concentration camp / Nazi related and I'll admit to having some weepy moments throughout `The Keeper of Secrets`. The protagonist of Julie Thomas' novel is a priceless violin and the tale spans from Nazi Germany to Communist Russia to London and the US in 2008. I loved the fact that every single character was intricately woven with backstories and characteristics that jumped off the page - nothing kills writing more than flat, undeveloped characters. ...more
S.L. Beaumont
Fantastic! Fourteen year old Daniel Horowitz is a typical American teenager obsessed with baseball, but with a rare musical gift. This is a well constructed, moving story which follows an heirloom 1742 violin on its journey from a Jewish family in pre-war Berlin, to Cold War Russia and the present day. Well researched and well written.
Vicki Seldon
I enjoyed this novel of historical fiction a great deal. Julie Thomas did a fine job drawing the reader into the details of family life for German Jews in Nazi Germany and later in the death camps as well as her fairly nuanced look at family life for the haute bourgeois Russian in post-WWII communist Russia. The "secret"that is kept is a priceless 1742 Guarneri del Jesu violin. The story of this violin and the musicians who played it links the German Jewish family and their American descendants ...more
In this coming-of-age story of a boy violin prodigy, the author follows the history of two families--primarily that of the three most-recent generations of a fictional German-Jewish family of bankers/musical geniuses--through the Holocaust, Stalin, and the present. The worlds of antique violins and musical greatness are made accessible the nonmusician through, among other things, technical information presented in clear language. What's most interesting to me is that it's the second 99 cent, sel ...more
Nicole Shepley
The best book I have read in a long time! I chose this book to compliment a recent trip to Germany, Hungary, and Poland in which I visited Auschwitz. I wanted a book that would allow me to "see" through the eyes of those that experienced the holocaust. The Keeper if Secrets did not disappoint. I felt so emotionally drawn to the characters: I cried with them and cheered with them. A story of "a German Jew, a Spanish Catholic, a German Agnostic and a very special violin named Yulena," pulled at my ...more
The author says it better than I ever could: "the story of a German Jew, a Spanish Catholic, a Russian agnostic and a reather special violin called Yulena."

A superb tale of music -- violin music -- and the people who compose, perform and find pleasure in it. As contemporary as David Beck, as historical as Bach and Beethovan, as dark as WWII Germany, and as uplifting as a young boy touching and embracing and coaxing beautiful music from a priceless violin.

As with any tale, there is conflict. Thef
So, you don't class yourself as a lover of classical music? Don't let your disinterest in music put you off reading this book. By the time you reach the end, you will at least have developed more of an appreciation for it. Personally, I felt the need to hit the internet and listen to some of the pieces mentioned. Music aside, this is a story of love, loss, family, history and culture. From Nazi controlled Germany, through concentration camps, to Soviet Russia, and the life of a violin and sports ...more
I don't give a lot of 5 Star ratings. This book deserved every one of those stars and more, were I able to give it more.

It is a riveting multi-generational story that takes us around the globe into the lives of very diverse backgrounds.

Daniel is 14 years old and lives in America with his parents. He is a gifted violin player who comes to the attention of a renowned conductor who becomes interested in promoting Daniel's gift. It turns out that Daniel's father, David, also played the violin but r
A 14 year old violin progeny is the central force in this story of a violin made in the mid 1700's. . His life balances between music and baseball. His family had many loses in the holocaust and the search for their family treasures seems to have reached a dead end. When Daniel meets world famous conductor, Rafael, the past and present collide. A wonderful story of music and history and a young boy who loves baseball.
I picked this book randomly from the library; I don't know the author nor had I heard about the book. It was a nice surprise. I saw similar themes as in the book by Jodi Picoult that I read recently. Both talk about the Second World War, a Jewish family, part of the story in the now and part in the past. The largest difference is in the music setting that Thomas describes. Thomas lively describe how one 'breaths' music, what makes a difference between just a player and a real talent. The main ch ...more
I couldn't put this book down. The feeling Thomas has created with this story is beautiful. A new twist on the long-lasting effects of World War 2, The Keeper of Secrets has several unexpected plot turns that leave you with empathy for each of her rich characters. This book made me want to pick up my violin and my history books again! Finally a self-published work worthy of the mainstream public.
Linda Shook
At times this was a difficult book to read. But I'm glad I was heartwarming as well as sad. Like the front cover states; A novel of love, loss and survival. It's an amazing book and I was totally blown away by the author's knowledge of music and musical instruments...namely violins. I highly recommend this book for your list of 'BOOKS TO READ.'
Lynette Mattke
The plot of the book was actually pretty promising, but the work as a whole was done in by the bad writing. Particularly the characters who were kids or teens didn't have actions and dialog that matched their age. Also, the author's musical knowledge seemed quite rudimentary, which was a major flaw in a book that really focused on musical themes.
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Julie started writing at the age of eight, stories about pre-revolutionary Russian princesses who rode troikas through the snow. She has worked in the media for over 25 years, radio, TV and film. She has written three novels and seven feature film scripts. In 2011 she sold her house in Auckland and moved two hours south to Cambridge, a glorious English style village, not unlike St Mary Mede. She s ...more
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