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The Forgotten Secret

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,936 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Can she unlock the mysteries of the past?

A country at war

It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long, Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds h

Kindle Edition, 333 pages
Published March 1st 2019 by HQ Digital
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  1,936 ratings  ·  166 reviews

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Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
An Absorbine tale that exquisitely weaves together present and past!

Kathleen McGurl has skillfully threaded together an intriguing story that truly captivated me. This book introduced me to a lot of Irish history that I had not previously known. I love when a book educates me about something and how appropriate for me to learn more about Ireland in the month of March. Although I’ve been told st. Patrick’s Day is more of a holiday in the US then in Ireland? Or maybe that Cinco de Mayo? Yes I kno
Dash fan
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5☆ Unputdownable, Mesmerising and Stunning read, that Stole My Heart.

WOW! I can't begin to find the right words to describe just how much I adored this beautifully compelling and poignant read.

Two very different women connected by different eras.
So brave and strong.
Standing up for what they believe in.

I don't want to give anything away.
But what I will say is, I enjoyed Clare's story.
After 25years of being belittled by her husband, she decides to take a stand and run away to Ireland, to live in h
Engrossing, character driven, dual time line story about finding yourself, family secrets and lost love.

Clare Farrell is a wife and mother of two grown sons. Her marriage has gone stale; her husband is selfish and takes her for granted. For years she's put up with everything being for his convenience. The unexpected inheritance of a house in Ireland gives Clare a chance to get away and reassess her life. Against her husband's objections, and with the support of her sons, she packs her bags and g
Karren  Sandercock
Ellen O’Brien has started working as a maid for Madame Emily Carlton at her grand house and her father’s happy she’s bringing in a wage. The future looks promising for Ellen, James Gallagher has returned home to Clonamurty Farm and the young couple are in love. But, Ireland’s on the brink of war, and there's lots of hushed and secret talk about Irish Independence. The Black and Tans are prowling the area, people are in hiding, others have been arrested and had their property damaged.

Clare Farre
Kirsty ❤️
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have so many good thoughts about this book. Firstly lets talk history and politics. I grew up in 70's England and remember the Troubles as they were then but as with most British history lessons in schools they tend not to focus on things that don't go well so I don't recall learning about the history of how the Troubles came about. There's an analogy in here about relationships that gave me more insight then any school lesson. Now if only the next book I read will explain the Brexit Backstop! ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-netgalley
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Set in dual timelines, present day Clare stumbles upon a long hidden secret when she inherits her families old farm house.

A fairly quick read, I never deeply attached to either timeline and found current day Clare unrealistic and older timeline Ellen to be extremely naive and immature.

3.25 stars
A century apart, this dual timeline story tells of two very different women, living in Ireland, and the secret from the past that links them. The insight into Ireland in 1919, the abuse of power by those seeking to annihilate those striving to free the country from the rule of England and the turmoil, devastation and destruction which ensued is brought vividly to life.

One of the people caught up in these turbulent times is Ellen O'Brien and it something she hid that is discovered a century late
Robin Loves Reading
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 l
Paula Sealey
This was a pleasant, dual timeline read. In the present day, Clare is left property in Ireland and leaves her manipulative husband behind in Britain to start afresh. Items she discovers in the house prompt her to research the history of the house and people connected with it. Her investigations lead to the early 1900's, and housemaid Ellen's story unfolds as she finds herself caught up in the fight for independence from Britain.

Past and present combined nicely to offer a quick read, but I didn't
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this author's writing and this book is no exception. I know very little of the history of Ireland and this book provided quite an insight into it.
The book is a dual timeline story and although I enjoyed both timelines (which are linked together) I did enjoy the modern one slightly more. I thought the characters well rounded, and I felt I got to know them very quickly.
I liked how the author has drawn in quite current news stories into the book, for example the recent stories surrounding t
Jackie M
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl. HQ Digital, 2019.

This book links two stories set in a farmhouse in County Meath, Ireland. In 2016, Clare considers leaving her critical, overbearing, unscrupulous husband of twenty-five years. In 1919, young Ellen and her Jimmy become involved in the old Irish Republican Army (IRA). Clare, having inherited the house once owned by Jimmy’s parents, finds personal records in an old chair she is reupholstering. Readers will be sympathetic to both women as th
Zoé-Lee O'Farrell
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019

I must say I seem to be enjoying the historical fiction genre at the moment and this one is told in a dual timeline. I found it so easy to lose myself in 1919 and 2016, and when the main character in 2016 has a very similar surname as me, well that’s me done. I have to read it!!

In 1919 with Ellen, with the excitement of her new job as an upstairs maid in a small Irish town, in the height of the resistance against the British, it reminded me of Downton Abbey (which I love). In 2016, Clare Farrell
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5* Full review at:

This was an engaging read set during two different time periods and centred around a farmhouse in Ireland. In the past there is Ellen and her experiences of life and love during the Irish Uprising of 1919 and the war of independence. In modern day there is 50 year old Clare embarking on a fresh start after leaving her critical and overbearing husband. The link, apart from the farmhouse, is personal documents discovered in a old armchair
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*I voluntarily reviewed this book from Netgalley

THE FORGOTTEN SECRET by Kathleen McGurl is an absorbing, dual-timeline story that packs an emotional punch which I was not expecting.

In 1919, Ellen O'Brien has gotten a job up at the big house and the boy who claims her heart returns home from school where they can finally be together. Life is hard work but she is happy. But things are about to change drastically for Ellen and she will experience hardships and heartbreaks like no other. Will she ha
Trish at Between My Lines
The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl stole my Sunday afternoon, and I'm perfectly fine with that! For hours I was lost in the gripping lives of both of these women, and I can't help but admire this author's lovely storytelling skills.

First Line:

"We rounded a corner, turned off the narrow country lane and onto a gravel track, drove past a little copse of birch trees and there it was.".

My Thoughts on The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl

I snapped this book up because of the 1919 setting duri
Kerry Robinson
This novel is delightful, fascinating and engrossing demanding complete attention from the reader. 

Two women, two time periods, two stories.

Ellen, a young girl in 1919 working as a maid in a larger country house.  Set in County Meath in the midst of a growing war between the Irish and the English, Ellen is almost coerced into choosing a side despite being unsure of her feelings.  Swept up by love and loyalty, Ellen finds herself becoming involved and doing things she never dreamed of.

A hundred y
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow, this story literally grabbed a hold of me and sucked me in. I was gripped and sitting on the edge of my seat with ever chapter, right to the very end.

It didn't take me long to be drawn into the stories of both Ellen back in 1919 and that of Clare in present day 2016, I was captivated right from the first few chapters. I loved how the story went back and forth from 1919 to 2016 which was done so seamlessly.

It was highly captivating, dramatic and emotional read in places, I literally could
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book centres around two different woman from two different eras.

Clare is living in our modern age and is about to turn 50 and living London , she inherits her uncle Padraigs farmstead in Ireland. When she first visits a seed is sown and she imagines a new life in Ireland away from her increasingly controlling husband.

Ellen lives in Ireland around 1919..She is 18 and has just started her first job as an upstairs maid in a big house. Her childhood friend has returned from school and they di
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Forgotten Secret
By Kathleen McGurl
4 stars
Reviewed on behalf of 3 Degrees of Fiction Book Blog

The Forgotten Secret was really enjoyable read which had me intrigued the whole way through. I really like historical fiction and this book was a great example. It is also the first book that I have read by this author and I really enjoyed her detailed writing style. I loved the dual timeline to the story and at first I wondered if I would be lost and confused but I wasn’t at all, her writing was jus
Marilyn Wilkie
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Turbulent times and heroic deeds marry with sad times and happy endings

Set in the fight for Irish Independence the book also reflects a woman's personal fight for independence from a dominating husband both connected by a secret find. Well written and worth reading.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Genealogy, history, and Ireland - what’s not to love? I haven’t read fiction for ages so this was a surprise.
Sandra McKenna
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of historical fiction.
A brilliant dual timeline story set in Ireland

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, a dual timeline set in Ireland in the early 20th century during the warring in Ireland and in the present day.
The author has researched the years of the wars, and written a lot about these hard times, so a great history lesson for the reader.
It was a real page turner for me, and I was disappointed when it ended.
This is a book I would highly recommend.
Kim Wyman
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very engaging story; kept my interest til the end.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As usual Kathleen McGurl as written a page-turner. Both the historical and modern plots keep you engaged and wanting to know what happens next. The characters are charming and believable and the in-depth history is seamlessly wrapped up with their lives. Fabulous.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a bitter sweet story that I couldn't put down, It was a great read. ...more
“You can research ancestry all you like, but how people actually felt and what they thought is lost in the mists of time.”

THE FORGOTTEN SECRET is the first book I've read by Kathleen McGurl and it won't be my last. It is difficult to place this in just one genre as it has so many facets to it. It's a touch of women's fiction, a touch of mystery and a wonderfully historical!

I must say I LOVE dual timeline stories as it brings to life two stories into one. And this one is no different. Centreing a
Sarah - Sarah's Vignettes
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All reviews can be found at

I can’t believe I am only just reading Kathleen McGurl’s stories!! I am sure I say this every time I review a book by an author whose books I haven't read before, but I can’t!

The Forgotten Secret has everything I love in a story: contemporary and historical fiction, a mystery, characters I can easily connect with, well researched, beautifully told.

The story is told as a dual time frame, set between 1919-1920 and the present day. In the
Karen Enderle
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great plot and character development.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.

Nicola Short
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The Forgotten Secret” is a story about two women, Carol and Ellen, that are 100 years apart. The story unfolds in a Irish farmhouse that Clare has inherited (present day) to Ellen (1919-1920). This begins a journey that parallels between the two women.
I have to say I learned quite a bit about Irish history that I was not aware of. If you are interested in Irish history, you will like this book.
I did enjoy this story and will read more from this author.
Thank you to NetGallery, the publisher an
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Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband and cat. She has two grown-up sons who have now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has sold dozens of short storie ...more

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