The Secret Diary is a dual-time story featuring recently bereaved Lorna and a diary that she finds which was written in 1945.
The diary was hidden in a secret compartment in the annex of her mother and step-father’s home. The annex was preserved in the 1940s style from when stepfather David’s parents lived there after the war. Reading the diary written by David’s mother Nancy was a form of escapism for Lorna, as well as appealing to her interest in history.
Nancy talked about her war years spent as a ‘gunner-girl’, shooting down enemy aircraft and working with other women who became her life-long friends. Several times Nancy hinted of a big secret and, with the help of David and his daughter Tilly, Lorna attempts to unravel the mystery.
I found the gunner-girl element very interesting and the post war chapters were by far my favourite parts of this story. In fact I could quite happily have accepted the whole story written in the post-war era. On a personal note, I would have liked to have seen the story go a little darker with its storyline just to give it a more realistic feel; for me it was a little too feel-good for some of the subjects involved.
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Two women. One house. And a secret that spans decades…
The past merges with the present in an unforgettable, poignant story of love, loss and courage in this beautifully written story set between World War Two and the present day.
She steps into the room and it’s like going back in time.
Catapulting her right into the heart of the 1940s.
The spindle of the record player frozen and ready to play. The flowery wallpaper faded but intact. A soldier’s uniform pressed and hung on a door, coal still in the fireplace.
A floorboard creaks beneath her and she notices a small desk in the corner of the room. She opens the top drawer and runs her hands along the edges, something catching at her fingertips. A hidden compartment. And behind it, the soft edges of a book.
As she dusts it off, she can see it has a red leather covering, the pages yellowing with age. She realises it’s a diary. Some of the pages have been torn out. The first entry has 16th June 1945 printed in neat little letters at the top. Below it, in hurried, untidy script are the words:
‘My name is Nancy Jones. And I have a secret…’