From the bestselling author of A Week in Paris, and the Richard & Judy Bookclub pick A Place of Secrets, comes a gripping and moving story spanning 70 years, set in Italy and in Norfolk.
On holiday with friends, young historian Briony Andrews becomes fascinated with a wartime story of a ruined villa in the hills behind Naples. There is a family connection: her grandfather had been a British soldier during the Italian campaign of 1943 in that very area. Handed a bundle of letters that were found after the war, Briony sets off to trace the fate of their sender, Sarah Bailey.
In 1939, Sarah returns with her mother and sister from India, in mourning, to take up residence in the Norfolk village of Westbury. There she forms a firm friendship with Paul Hartmann, a young German who has found sanctuary in the local manor house, Westbury Hall. With the outbreak of war, conflicts of loyalty in Westbury deepen.
When, 70 years later, Briony begins to uncover Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. What happened long ago in the villa in the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to give terrible pain …
A beautiful story of war, loss, tragedy and secrets, spanning generations and a love story that stands the tests of time.
I won’t go into the storyline too much as the book description is enough to suffice and for fear that I will let something slip that would take away some of the magic that the plot twists bring to the whole book. Ok so they may not come as a massive shock but they need to be discovered for yourselves along the way.
The characters are wonderfully portrayed and you can’t help but become emotionally invested in Sarah and Paul’s story and the historical parts of the book steal the show massively. Briony’s part in this tale set in the present day ties the whole story together with an echo of the past that entwine’s the parallel storyline blurring a few of the lines.
It has a “Dear John” feel to it and I am sure if you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks then your are probably way ahead of me discovering Rachel Hore’s novels but now I have finally ticked this book off my ever-increasing to be read pile I will now be adding her other novels to that pile! (I’m going to need a bigger bookcase!)
As far as historical romance novels go, this one has a bit of everything you could wish for with some harrowing scenes of war and a love story that sustains and endures it can’t fail but to sweep you along and bring out the soft side of even the hardest of hearts!
Beautifully written, characters to fall in love with, and some to detest it is a book I would highly recommend to anyone with a soft spot for war-torn love stories that will itself stand the tests of time.
And at this time of year it would make a perfect Christmas present 🎁🎄
You can grab a copy now below
Many thanks to the author Rachel Hore, publishers Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for my copy in exchange for an honest, independent review.