#Review: An Island of Secrets by Eva Glyn @JaneCable @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #blogtour #romance #WW2 #Yugoslavia #AnIslandofSecrets

By | May 11, 2022

I’m really delighted today to be joining the blog tour for the latest book from Eva Glyn, An Island of Secrets, and to share my review. Published as an ebook by One More Chapter on 20th April, it’s now available for kindle and on all other major ebook platforms, with the paperback to follow on 26th May (available to pre-order).  My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).

It’s not a secret that Eva Glyn is the alter ego of Jane Cable, an author whose books I’ve always enjoyed since her very first – The Cheesemaker’s House, back in 2013 (I shared my review again on its fifth anniversary – you can read it again here). Eva writes “escapist relationship-driven fiction” with One More Chapter – and I was particularly thrilled when the first book they chose to publish was The Missing Pieces of Us – originally published as The Faerie Tree, it was a book I’d very much enjoyed – and it was a pleasure to re-share my original review for the cover reveal (you’ll find it here). And then came The Olive Grove – an emotionally complex and captivating story, set on the Croatian island of Korčula and bringing the setting vividly to life, delving into the troubled recent history of the countries that made up the former Yugoslavia (you’ll find my review here). I was thrilled that she decided to return to a Croatian setting for her latest… this was a book I was really looking forward to.

For fans of Dinah Jefferies, Victoria Hislop, Lucinda Riley and Rosanna Ley, this is a stunning and sweeping WW2 novel that shows a side to the war not often seen before.


That was then…


Seventy-five years ago, British SOE spy Guy Barclay was forced to leave behind the woman he loved in war-ravaged Yugoslavia.


…This is now


As ninety-three-year-old Guy’s days draw to a close, he asks his granddaughter, Leo Holmes, to go looking for answers. Given that her marriage has imploded and her City job is on the verge of killing her, Leo agrees and rents a house on the island of Vis, where her grandfather was stationed in the Second World War.


But as Leo’s search takes her down unexpected roads – and into the path of a gorgeous local, Andrej Pintaric – she begins to wonder if this journey down memory lane might yield unexpected results for more than just her beloved grandfather…

I unfailingly love a story with a dual time thread – but equally enjoy exploring an unfamiliar location, learning something new about the historical background, with an added element of romance only making my pleasure complete. And my goodness, I most certainly enjoyed this one – the most accomplished storytelling, backed up by clear and extensive research into both the setting and the complicated wartime history of the former Yugoslavia, present day and historical threads so perfectly balanced and equally engaging. The wartime romance is absolutely heart-breaking, the one in the present day equally strong and believable. And when I reached the book’s end, it was like emerging from the cinema after watching a particularly good feature film – returning to the real world, blinking into the light, wiping away a tear or two, the story still very much alive in your thoughts and memory, the characters still nestling in your heart.

With her life rather falling apart, Leo travels to Vis – a small island off the Croatian coast – partly to lick her own wounds, but primarily on a mission for her grandfather Guy, now nearing the end of his life. He was stationed there during the war, working for Special Operations, and wants her to find out what happened to the people he grew close to but was forced to leave behind. Struggling with her own pain – she even forgets to take with her the notes she made about important names and places – she finds a friend in local tourist guide Andrej, who aids her with her mission but also helps her focus on her own future and make some decisions about what comes next. And, in the other timeline, we learn a great deal more about Guy’s own wartime experience – his life on the island, his work with and support for the partisans (severely tested when he discovers their particularly shocking actions), his secret activities and his role in liaison, and his developing relationship with Ivka, the young local woman working so hard to put food on the table for her family.

I knew very little about Yugoslavia’s WW2 experience, and certainly nothing about the British involvement in their struggle – and the way the author weaves her research into the story is superbly done, making you feel you’re in the midst of the action, bringing the realities vividly to life with every twist and turn. And I’ve only ever been to Croatia for a brief cruise stop, and never to the islands – but by the time this story drew to an end I felt I knew Vis and the coastal town of Komiža really well, sharing a strong coffee with Leo on the bustling quayside, slithering around the rocks with Guy on his way to his clifftop hideaway. Just sometimes, an author’s research can be a touch too visible and maybe feel a little uncomfortable – in this book, its quite perfectly used both to recreate the wartime setting and Guy’s experiences with total authenticity and to whisk you away to a present day (and particularly beautiful) holiday destination imbued with a fascinating hidden history.

The characters are wonderfully drawn – not just Leo and Andrej, Guy and Ivka, but the whole supporting cast too. Emotionally, the whole book is quite perfectly judged – the romance, particularly the wartime one, is particularly engaging, often joyful, and exceptionally moving and involving, but the moral and ethical issues that surface are also handled with a very sure touch. Guy’s story moved me frequently to tears – and, despite its comparative lightness, I could certainly feel Leo’s anguish too. But despite (quite rightly) not shying away from the harsh realities of the individuals’ experiences, it’s really not an overly heavy read – the writing is so excellent, the romance so all-consuming, that it just sweeps you away into its heart. And what a story – I really felt its every twist and turn, and haven’t felt as immersed and engaged in a long time.

I’ve always been a fan of Eva Glyn’s writing (Jane Cable’s too…), but I thought this book moved her into an entirely different league – I really loved this book, and recommend it most highly.

About the author

Eva Glyn writes escapist relationship-driven fiction with a kernel of truth at its heart. She loves to travel and finds inspiration in beautiful places and the stories they hide.

Her last holiday before lockdown was a trip to Croatia, and the country’s haunting histories and gorgeous scenery have proved fertile ground, driven by her friendship with a tour guide she met there. His wartime story provided the inspiration for The Olive Grove and his help in creating a realistic portrayal of Croatian life had proved invaluable. An Island of Secrets is her second novel set in the country, a dual timeline looking back to World War 2, also published by One More Chapter.

Eva lives in Cornwall, although she considers herself Welsh, and has been lucky enough to have been married to the love of her life for twenty-five years. She also writes as Jane Cable.

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2 thoughts on “#Review: An Island of Secrets by Eva Glyn @JaneCable @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #blogtour #romance #WW2 #Yugoslavia #AnIslandofSecrets

  1. Kate Ryder

    What a wonderful review, Anne. I, too, have followed Jane Cable/Eva Glyn from the start of her writing career, but for you to say that you “haven’t felt as immersed and engaged in a long time” is something else, considering all the books you read!

    Also, it’s wonderful that you believe thIs book moves her into an entirely different league… Well done, Eva! 🙂

    1. Anne Post author

      Thanks Su – it really is rather a wonderful book!

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