Evening everyone! Even thought it’s late in the day I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for The Secret Diary by Anna Stuart, and bringing you a review of this brilliant, gripping and emotional dual timeline that I absolutely loved…..

about the book

Title: The Secret Diary
Author: Anna Stuart
Genre: Historical Fiction
Estimated page count: 337
Formats available: Paperback, Audiobook and eBook
Publisher: Bookouture (3 Aug. 2021)
Tour organised by: Bookouture

Two women. One house. And a wartime secret that spans decades…

Norfolk, 1945: Only a few months ago Nancy Jones was fighting for her country as a gunner girl. Now she’s struggling to adjust to her responsibilities as a gamekeeper’s wife. After a whirlwind romance, Nancy is deeply in love with her handsome husband Joe but there is still so much they don’t know about each other. When a secret from Nancy’s war years threatens to resurface, will the terrible truth about the worst night of her life shatter their new marriage?

Norfolk, 2019: Devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, Lorna Haynes escapes to the beautiful but crumbling Gamekeeper’s Cottage. There, she stumbles upon a locked room. When she enters, it’s like going back in time. A soldier’s uniform hangs on the back of the door, the flowery wallpaper still intact, the spindle of the record player frozen and ready to play. At the back of the room, Lorna discovers a red, leather-bound diary in a hidden compartment of a desk drawer.

As Lorna battles with heartache, she takes comfort in reading the ink-stained words. Turning the pages of the old book, she learns of the incredible bravery of the woman who lived in the house decades before her. And discovers a shocking wartime secret that will change the course of her own life…
Fans of The NightingaleThe Alice Network, and Lilac Girls will love this unforgettable, poignant tale of love, loss and courage during the darkest days of war.

Purchase links: Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Apple ~ Kobo ~ Google

my thoughts

In 2019 Lorna is dealing with the tragic loss of her husband.  Needing some time out and some TLC she takes her two boys to stay with her Mum in the Gamekeeper’s Cottage.  Being a history teacher, someone like this would usually get her excited but she has nothing left – she is emotionally drained.  But then she finds a diary hidden away, concealed since the end of the war.  As she loses herself in the details, we meet Nancy.

In 1945 the was has ended and Nancy is trying to settle into life as a wife, stepping away from her place in the war as a gunner girl.  But she’s finding it harder to adjust than she ever imagined.  She misses her girls and the exhilaration of the job.  And she doesn’t want to just be a wife in the kitchen.  As she struggles, she spills all her thoughts in her diary.  But she also writes down a secret, tearing it and hiding it away – a secret the girls had promised not to disclose……  Will the secret come out? Will Lorna find out what it was in the present day? Does Nancy settle into her new life? And will Lorna learn to deal with her heartbreak?

This is a wonderful dual timeline novel full of raw emotion, history, family, love and secrets.  I really felt for Lorna and loved the fact that the diary gave her something to focus on during the tough days following the death of husband.  Her emotions are so raw and it’s heartbreaking to read about, it’s just like her emotions seep from the page.  It’s also sad to watch her boys go through the loss of their Dad too, and how the manage.  Her Mum and husband are brilliant, and David is a huge encouragement to Lorna which is lovely to see.  In 1945 I absolutely loved Nancy.  The story really opens your eyes to how much of a struggle things might have been for women then, despite the fact that they also took an active part in the war, but were expected to step down and resume their previous lives.

Being the history geek that I am, I loved finding out more about the gunner girls and it’s really made me want to look into women’s roles during the war.  There are so many roles women took on that we probably don’t even realise.  The setting is fantastic and I felt like I was stepping back to the 40’s.

The storyline is brilliant and the writing is engaging and a pleasure to read.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction, or enjoy a dual timeline and are looking for something gripping, emotional and wonderful then you should check this out!  Most definitely recommended by me.

about the author

Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels. Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers. You can reach her on Facebook @annastuartauthor or Twitter @annastuartbooks.

follow the tour

Thanks to Sarah for inviting me onto the tour, and to Anna, Bookouture and Netgalley for my copy of the book.  All views and opinions are my own.

Goodnight lovelies – I’ll be back soon!

Chelle x

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