The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

the secret years

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When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather, Harry’s World War 2 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.

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Publisher and Release Date: Penguin, September 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: WW2 England/Present Day Australia
Heat Level: 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jill

Lucy Hunter is back home in Townsville, Australia after a six month deployment to Afghanistan. Coming home means catching up with her mother, Rose, and her grandfather, Harry, but also being reunited with her fiancé. With her mother’s recent house move and most of their belongings still packed up in boxes, Lucy comes across an old biscuit tin that contains her grandfather’s war medals, old letters and a photograph.

The photograph is of Lucy’s grandmother, Georgina Lenton. Neither Rose nor Harry have ever been keen to fill in the details of her family history. So, with time on her hands, Lucy flies off to Cornwall in England to find out more about her English ancestors and to unearth the details of her mother’s early life and her grandfather’s years during the war.

Barbara Hannay’s writing is crisp. Her love for Australia and its heritage is demonstrated by this Australian author’s vivid descriptions of city and rural life in the different eras encompassed in this story. Set in three different times – during World War 2, the 1960’s, and the present- and in various locations – Australia, England and New Guinea – Ms Hannay spins a multi-generational tale of family, life, passion and loss.

Lucy wants to know more about the grandfather she loves. When she discovers his medals, she realises she knows little about his time during the war. Why is her mother so closed-off about her own mother, Georgina? And what has caused the rift between Rose and Harry?

The Secret Years is both contemporary and historical fiction, with two romances running through it. For me, the historical story set during the war involving Harry and Georgina, is the more satisfying, with some really finely-depicted scenes, both in London and overseas. The other setting on Kalkadoon, their cattle station in outback Queensland is a delight. Ms Hannay’s descriptions of the sights and sounds of the Australian landscape is a treat.

For readers who enjoy romantic historical fiction and multi-generational family stories, The Secret Years is a recommended read.

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