The Keeper of Secrets

Written by Julie Thomas

The Keeper of Secrets brings together the stories of 14-year-old Simon Horowitz in Berlin in 1939 and 14-year-old Daniel Horowitz in present-day America. Simon is the son of a wealthy family about to lose everything to the Nazis, including their priceless 1742 Guarneri de Gesu violin. Simon survives despite the odds, but loses nearly all his family. The violin, of course, is gone. Daniel, his grandson, is a musical prodigy, a young violinist already playing internationally—until his mother decides that baseball, his other love, is just too foolish a risk to his hands. Daniel reacts as any sensible 14-year-old would: he quits playing the violin.

The author actually weaves together three stories: Simon’s wartime survival; whether Daniel will or will not take on the burden and glory of his dazzling gift; and the mystery of what happened to the violin. Could it be that a Russian millionaire’s Guarneri de Gesu is the one that the Horowitz family lost to the Nazis?

This is a near perfect read, a book that teaches, intrigues, and entertains. Author Thomas is especially good at describing music; I could almost hear it. Each tale is satisfying, and the three strands come together just right.

This book’s genesis is a feel-good story in itself. Thomas, a television and film producer, got the idea for the novel when she was doing a documentary on art treasures looted by the Nazis. She spent seven years researching and writing The Keeper of Secrets, which she then self-published as an e-book. After it sold more than 40,000 copies, HarperCollins called her. They loved the book and wanted to publish it. Recommended.