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Publisher: 26 August 2015 by Penguin Books Australia
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: historical fiction, womens fiction, romance, contemporary, dual time
My Rating: 5 crowns
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.
"His eyes shimmered and she heard the way he drew a quick breath. 'Bloody hell, George'. 'Yes, bloody hell,' she said softly. 'That about sums it up, doesn't it?'
Yup. That about sums it up as I turned the final page of this fabulous read. Bloody hell! To say I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Years, finding myself totally absorbed in this riveting drama, is an understatement. In this dual time narrative (always a risky business) the story flowed flawlessly in BOTH timelines. Bloody hell again!
Firstly, let's take a look at the array of spellbinding locations described in these pages. The rugged Australian outback, to the windswept picturesque Cornish coast, to the blitz in wartime London, to the war torn jungle of New Guinea.
"the stunning natural beauty of New Guinea. Seen from the air, the colours of the rugged, dark emerald mountains and the glowing peacock-blue seas were more intense than she could have dreamed."
Already I can hear you thinking, sounds pretty ambitious. It is. And does Hannay pull it off? Indeed she does! It worked and oh so successfully. You cannot tie this book down to one genre, it ticks so many boxes - romance, war, historical fiction, contemporary, family drama - is all covered in this tale of the lives of three women from consecutive generations.
"She couldn't bear the emotions that accompanied her memories of those years she'd spent in England against her will - the secret years, Lucy had called them."
Hannay seamlessly moves the narrative between the two timelines with emotions running high from wartime dramas - WW2 or Afghanistan - to the passion and romance - both past and present. Can I just say now, Nick Myatt moved high up the ladder of my fictional love interests. However, it is the unfolding story between Harry and George, from courtship to marriage, that truly captured my heart. Harry, the Aussie cattleman and Georgina, his aristocratic English soulmate...sigh. This is very well written with loads of appealing characters and a story that really moves along at a cracking pace.
"The arrival of war had bought that lifestyle crashing to a halt. In a matter of weeks, everything had changed."
The Secret Years had me chained to my Kindle and will stay with me for some time to come. The outpouring of emotions throughout this story is real and heartfelt. So much so, the ending had me unsure of whether to smile or cry. It was perfection. A classic ending to what truly is a classic read. Do yourself a favour and go join Harry and George in 'The Secret Years'.
"And I know with absolute certainty that every important thing that I want begins and ends with you."