The Secret

Written by Elizabeth Gill
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

In 1944, when Jaime Gray is killed in an air raid, life is turned upside down for his wife, Ailsa, and their two children. Talked into leaving their comfortable London home by Jaime’s brother, Callum, they return to Jaime’s Northumberland home to attempt to rebuild their lives. Over the following summer, Callum and Ailsa become close, but he is engaged to be married, and his fiancée, Phoebe, feels threatened by this new relationship. Then Ailsa’s children develop unsuitable friendships with two of the village children who may be more than they seem.

With such a title, one would expect this novel to have more of a mystery about it. But there is little suspense and the actual secret of the title is revealed in the first third of the book. The subplot with Phoebe is underdeveloped, which is a pity given the premature resolution of the mystery element. As a whole, the novel is competently written, culminating in a neat, if historically improbable ending. However, this was a pleasant enough read that will no doubt satisfy Gill’s many fans.