The Secret, Katharine Johnson

Although I don’t get much time to read anymore, I love nothing better than a ‘bit of me time’ snuggling up with a fresh smelling book.

The Secret by Katharine Johnson is a story about a snap decision and a lifetime of lies. This standalone story covers the summer of 1992 and the events that took place during the Second World War in Mussolini, Italy.

Johnson writes in an intriguing fashion that keeps the excitement and the guessing alive with each turn of a page. She grew up in Bristol but has lived in Italy which gives this book its authentic taste.

The blurb:

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 divided but a chance encounter changes everything.

The girls’ 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 her best friend’s life takes 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. While Irena’s son is determined to get to the truth about the village’s past, Martina’s daughter is desperate to keep it hidden.

My review:

This book had me hooked from the very first page. I read this book without reading Johnson’s first novel ‘The Silence’, so I was very open minded about what to expect.

The characters in this novel are extremely likeable which I often find quite rare in gripping plots. Once you read this, you may think I am mad for saying that. One character in particular has committed a huge betrayal, but I just found her so intriguing to read about. The betrayal is portrayed brilliantly and you understand how it has affected not only the characters but the village too.

I wanted to find out more about each characters past, and this book certainly covered areas I didn’t expect it to go. The transitions in each chapter from past to present were easy to follow and allowed me a greater insight into what each of the characters had been through.

I particularly loved the descriptions of Santa Zita, and Johnson describes it so beautifully that it has made me research the village a little myself. I often felt transported into another time zone and country.

This is an extremely compelling story and a great read for anyone that likes to be on the edge of their seat and kept guessing who, what, why and how!

Let this book be a lesson about the consequences of secrets and lies.

Giveaway: is also giving you the chance to get your hands on a signed paperback of The Secret, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase The Secret:

You can get your hands on this exciting read in kindle or paperback format by following the links listed below:

Buy Links: Kindle / Paperback

It’s a perfect thrilling read for the summer of 2018 – don’t miss out!

*This opportunity has been sent to by a PR/brand but all opinions are my own*


  1. Andi Gurney
    July 21, 2018 / 10:05 pm

    It sounds an amazing story, love books with a historical theme

  2. July 21, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I would love to learn more about life in Italy pre and during the 2nd world war – thanks for the chance

  3. Chloe
    July 21, 2018 / 7:43 pm

    I’m completely addicted to books set in WW2, trying to imagine what it was like back then to go about everyday life with the war going on. So far I have only managed to read ones that are set in the UK, so it would be interesting to place myself in Italy during that period of time, and the mystery and drama advertised in this story sounds too exciting to miss! I would love to win this book.

  4. Katrina Adams
    July 21, 2018 / 6:06 pm

    I don’t tend to read things that are outside of my comfort zone (Fantasy or Thrillers) but this is something I am trying to expand on. This book sounds really interesting and I think would keep me captivated whilst encouraging me to try new authors/genres.

  5. Janine H
    July 21, 2018 / 3:06 pm

    In need of a good book, I’ve read a couple of really awful books recently, leaving me totally deflated, so please bear me in mind for your giveaway

  6. natalie crossan
    July 21, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    It looks like an interesting read for my spanish break x

  7. July 21, 2018 / 11:25 am

    I love reading novels with some history, and ones that can transport you to a different time and place. :ove a bit of mystery too!

  8. Cindy Gillespie
    July 21, 2018 / 11:20 am

    This book sounds like a book I could lose myself in. I, like you, love a book with likeable characters as you want to find out more about them and I also love to read something that has me on the edge of my seat.

  9. Anneka Avery
    July 21, 2018 / 6:07 am

    I’m a total book worm and I’d love to read this as I want to know more about this betrayal!! Looks so good and right up my street.

  10. Patricia Dewey
    July 20, 2018 / 8:31 pm

    I would love to read The Secret because the reviews sound like it’s a book that you can really get into and share the traumas as they happen.

  11. Michelle Ferguson
    July 20, 2018 / 5:25 am

    I love reading and this book looks great, I want to know what the betrayal that happened was

  12. Lyndsey
    July 18, 2018 / 7:25 pm

    I would like to read this book as I need a new book to read

  13. Vivien Tew
    July 18, 2018 / 7:06 am

    Would love to win the signed copy of The Secret. The story sounds very intriguing and I love a book which I can really get into and is hard to put down. With its origins set in Tuscany during the Second World War I’m sure The Secret will keep us entertained until the very end.

    • July 18, 2018 / 4:00 pm

      Thanks so much Daisy for this lovely review!

Leave a Reply