The Secret by Katharine Johnson

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for The Secret by Katharine Johnson. My thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.

This book had the unenviable task of pulling me through a book hangover. I had just read a book that had blown my mind, and when I picked this up I felt a little apprehensive about it. How could it possibly compete? Well, compete it did! I fell into The Secret so easily and I loved every minute of reading it.

It tells the story of two very different young women growing up in Italy during the Second World War. Beautiful Martina marries well and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in the village, whilst her friend Irena becomes a teacher. The events that follow echo down the decades threatening to tear lives apart in the next generation.

I am aware that the author wrote another novel, The Silence which also features Villa Leonida and the events of that novel are mentioned throughout The Secret and act as a catalyst for events that occur in the present day. The Secret can be read as a stand alone, but I enjoyed it so much that I felt compelled to immediately buy The Silence.

One of the elements I most enjoyed was that the novel was about normal, everyday people living their lives and dealing with what is thrown at them. The war in Italy obviously looms large throughout, but it doesn’t overbear. Sometimes historical fiction can be weighted down with the history, and this can impact on the story, but here it is in perfect balance and Martina, Irena and later, Sonia and Carlo always remain the core focus.

My one niggle is Gianni. I can’t go into much detail without ruining the plot, but I really struggled to understand his motivation as to why he behaved the way he did. Out of all the characters he was the one I could not get my head around. I felt I wanted more from his character one way or another.

The Secret is a beautifully written tale of wartime life, friendship and long held secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it had me reaching for the tissues in the closing chapters!


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 are divided until a chance encounter changes everything. 

Their 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 other people’s lives take 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 among the next generation.

Purchase Link –

About the Author

Katharine Johnson likes writing about ordinary people who through a character flaw or bad decision find themselves in extraordinary situations. She’s a journalist living in Berkshire, England with her family and springy spaniel. When she’s not writing you’ll find her exploring cities, visiting old houses, playing netball, eating cake or restoring her house in Italy which is nothing like Villa Leonida.

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Giveaway – Win 1 x Signed copy of The Secret and 1 x Signed Copy of The Silence (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Click here to enter

Good luck!

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