It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl, and sharing my review: published by HQ Digital on 11th November, this lovely book is now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US, with the paperback and audiobook to follow on 7th January. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
I no longer need to read the blurb before I pick up one of Kath’s books – whatever the setting or historical period, I know I’ll be picking up a book I’m going to thoroughly enjoy. The first of her books that I read was The Daughters of Red Hill Hall way back in 2016 (you’ll find my review here), but I didn’t pick up another (what was I thinking?!) until The Forgotten Secret in 2019 (review here) when I remembered how very much I enjoyed her writing. I then entirely loved The Stationmaster’s Daughter (and I know a lot of other people did too!) – you’ll find my review here. And then I read The Secret of the Château, and wasn’t sure which of her books was my favourite any more (review here). But might this one be even better?
What would you do to protect the ones you love?
1861. George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?
Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…
Discover a family’s darkest secrets today. Perfect for fans of The Girl in the Letter, The Beekeeper’s Promise and The Forgotten Village!
What a lovely way to spend an afternoon! Whenever I read one of the author’s books, it reminds me just how much I always enjoy a well told dual-time story – and she does it so very well. In the 1860s we meet George, a second son who’s shown very little interest or affection by his cold and remote parents, capturing his life in his journal – and then developing a passion for scheming housemaid Lucy with devastating consequences. And in the present day, we meet Cassie – such a likeable and sympathetic character – rather going through the motions, content spending her days working at the local leisure centre, calling in at the pub with her workmates on the way home, where she’s developed an interest in genealogy and is researching her father’s family tree.
On the surface, it’s that research that ties the stories together – George is one of those ancestors, and the census results throw up all sorts of questions about his chequered history and some of the mysterious bequests in the will she then uncovers. But the stories are linked by a lot more than that – Cassie has a few surprises on the way, and the threads mirror each other so cleverly with questions about parenthood and family (especially fathers), love and loyalty, that I thoroughly enjoyed. There’s even some nice echoing of the themes of friendship and support too – Andy, the leisure centre manager, comes through for Cassie (with a little nicely developed attraction in the mix), and George finally finds a support network that rather saves him too.
The 1860s story is really excellent – the period detail and the manners and morals of the time really well represented. While the parents are pretty horrendous characters, and you really feel for George as he tells his story through the pages of his journal in a clear and consistent voice. His only real sin is his naivety and need for approval (love might just be too much to ask for…) – but there are the good characters too, not just ciphers but really well drawn, and I was entirely gripped by the story that unfolded.
But I really enjoyed all the twists and turns of Cassie’s story too – and the mark of a writer who writes this story so very well is that no one thread predominates or is more enjoyable than the other, both stories are equally emotionally engaging, and there’s absolutely none of that wrenching you can sometimes feel when the narrative moves from one story to the other.
Superb storytelling, excellent characters, two threads beautifully entwined – and a conclusion that really was everything I wanted it to be. Recommended to anyone who might enjoy the same books that I do – I thoroughly enjoyed it.
About the author
Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway.
Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019.