Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Review: The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Title: The Secret Years
Author: Barbara Hannay
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 26th August 2015
Pages: 384
Book Source: Penguin Australia

Synopsis: When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry's World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as 'George' and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy's family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?

As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.

From the wild beauty of the Australian bush to England's rugged south coast, this is a deeply moving story of heartbreak, heroism and homecoming by a beloved, multi-award-winning author.

My Thoughts: 
This was my first Barbara Hannay read. What rock have I been living under?? ... I have no idea why Hannay hasn't come to my attention before now but I've been missing out.

The Secret Years is a multi-generational story blending contemporary and historical narratives into an utterly captivating read.

It's a story where the past bleeds into the present, the effect of long held secrets rippling through generations. 

Lucy returns home to Australia from a 6 month deployment in Afghanistan. Her mother and beloved grandfather Harry's reticence in talking about the past, then her discovery of a tin of her grandfather's wartime memorabilia, impetus for heading to Cornwall, England to unravel the secrets of her family's history.    

Harry and George's (Georgina) story (the historical narrative) was my favourite, it's tender and brave and the war added tension and urgency to their romance. But, I was surprised to enjoy Lucy and 'cousin' Nick's story almost as much. Lucy's search for answers is integral in pulling all the pieces of the story together. 

The Secret Years has a wonderful sense of place, whether it was the harsh beauty and isolation of the Australian bush, London during the Blitz, the dramatic beauty of the Cornish coastline or the lush beauty, humidity and danger of Rabaul, New Guinea during the Japanese invasion, I was transported effortlessly and completely immersed. 

The Secret Years is an evocative story of great love, loss and secrets. Family history gives us a strong sense of identity so the story is also a journey of self discovery. Hannay breathes life and love into the pages. 

One of the benefits of discovering an author late is an extensive backlist to devour :)

Connect with Barbara Hannay
The Secret Years


  1. Replies
    1. yup ... and you said you wanted more Australian reads ;)

  2. Must have been living under another rock! I think I have seen this author's books in shops but have never picked one up. This one sounds really good, you've sold me on it!

    1. yay I'm glad, can't wait to see what you think Kathryn. I had no idea Barbara Hannay was such a prolific writer but I do remember seeing the title Zoe's Muster around and just not tying it to the author ... I think I'll read that one next.

  3. Replies
    1. I love a dual narrative when it's done well and Barbara Hannay's writing was so vivid and addictive. I think you'd love it too Julie!

  4. Psst..I have never tried this author, so we must have been sharing the same rock. This sounds really good, and I love multi-generation stories

    1. a few of us under the rock ... I don't feel so bad now Kimberly lol.

  5. A new-to-me author. Looks like one I'd like!

    1. I think so too Stacy ... hope you give it a try!

  6. Great discovery Teddyree as I haven't heard of Hannay either (I'm also under that rock!).

    1. that rock is getting crowded lol ... hope you get your hands on this one Deb :)


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