The Secret is the second book in the Villa Leonida series. It’s a standalone so you don’t have to have read The Silence before reading this one but if you have you’ll recognise a few characters.
Love, lies and betrayal in wartime Italy.
Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested and loyalties are divided until a chance encounter changes everything.
Their lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village, while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher.
But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.
Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds among the next generation
The Secret will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 1st June.
You can wait until the big day but it will really help me if you pre-order.
That way you don’t have to remember the date. If you pre-order the ebook now, it will magically download onto your device on 1st June . You won’t be charged (the princely sum of £1.99) until then.
Alternatively, you can buy the paperback now for just £6.99
To buy click here:
If you let me know you’ve pre-ordered you’ll be entered for an Italy-related prize!
If you’d like to buy a signed copy direct from me for the same price please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
What people are saying about The Secret:
Katharine Johnson is one of my favourite authors. I read her book The Silence earlier this year so when I heard she had a new book out, The Secret, I was keen to read it. I did read it – in one sitting! This is such a thrilling book.
The Secret is set in the village of Santa Zita in Italy and covers the period from the struggles encountered by the population during World War II right up to the revitalisation of the village in the present day. I often find novels that move back and forward through time irritating. Not so with The Secret. I knew exactly what was going on because the author weaves a seamless tale clearly indicating when the characters and time frame changes.
Several of the characters appeared in The Silence which was set in the same village. However, this is a stand alone novel and you do not need to have read the previous book in order to enjoy it. The characters in the village are complex and credible. I loved the way the story was written to include a wide variety of individuals whose paths crossed in different ways throughout the story.
Indeed, it seemed almost everyone in Santa Zita had a secret and the author shares them with the reader discreetly and gradually throughout The Secret with effortless skill. It is a truly gripping novel.
I do not intend to leave any spoilers here, suffice to say this excellent pschycological thriller will suit both book groups and individuals looking to enjoy new, talented authors. I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret and highly recommend it.
Five star review from Book Reviews Today
Mind-blowing book! Santa Zita Italy: Sonia, Martina’s daughter, returns with secrets from the past. After her mother’s betrayal the villagers have never forgotten. Irena’s son Carlo wants to find out the truth, so she begins at the beginning. As he was soon to find out as you read on, the hold Martina had over his mother, and the curse of Villa Leonida still lives on. I found this book fascinating to read, harrowing accounts of Martina living and surviving through the dreadful war. I really enjoyed The Silence but The Secret gave me more enjoyment and I totally loved it. The author kept me gripped all the way through with a fantastic ending
Five star review from Booklover
A psychological suspense/coming of age novel set in Tuscany published in June 2017 by Crooked Cat Books
GP Abby Fenton has it all – a rewarding career, a loving husband, two adorable children and an enviable lifestyle. But she also has a secret that could destroy everything. When human remains are discovered in the grounds of an idyllic Tuscan villa she is forced to confront her hitherto repressed memories and relive the summer she spent at the villa as a teenager – a summer that ended in tragedy. The closer she gets to the truth the closer she comes to losing her sanity. But with the reappearance of someone else who was at the villa in 1992 she realises her secret is no longer safe – and that person’s silence comes at a price
Paperback £7.99, eBook £1.99. Click this link to buy: The Silence
Why I wrote it
Quite simply I wrote the book I wanted to read. I love stories about an outsider coming into a dysfunctional group and the effect they have on each other, stories based on a secret that threatens to break, and coming of age stories where a decision a young person makes changes the course of their life.
I also wanted to write a story set over a long, hot summer so that as the temperature soars so do the tensions between the characters.
I’ve always been fascinated by old houses and the secrets they hold. I’ve lived in Italy and have had a house in Tuscany for many years which I escape to when I can and I felt this would be the perfect setting because a crime would be easy to cover up in some of these isolated mountain villages but with the trend among foreigners for restoring old Tuscan properties it was likely that it would be discovered at some point.
I love the multi-layered history of these villages and the way that breathtaking beauty sometimes masks a brutal history. Our house is very different from Villa Leonida – for one thing we haven’t found any skeletons there – but one was found at a house not far from us which gave me the idea for the story.
I have just written a second book set in Villa Leonida but this time uncovering a wartime secret. I’m just about to send it off to the publisher and so the nail biting wait begins…
What readers have said about The Silence:
“An excellently-paced, disturbing novel that will leave you reeling”, Linda, Books Of All Kinds
“A hook, line and sinker novel that completely put me under its spell”, Laura, Page Turner’s Nook
“A twisty, turny, thorny plot. This novel will keep you gripped” Laura Wilkinson, author of Skin Deep
“A real page turner” Vanessa Couchman, author of The House at Zaronza
“Everything I’d hoped it would be and more. The Tuscan setting is perfect for the story” Misti Nash
“Full of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. The description of Tuscany was amazing. I felt I was there and the sun was warming my skin.” Helen, Life of a Nerdish Mum blog
“So riveting it should be made into a film” Isabella May
“I couldn’t put it down” Mrs BM Curry, Amazon
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so hooked on a book! I had no idea how it was going to end and what twist was coming next”
“A perfect psychological thriller”
“Mind blowing from start to finish with a brilliant end”
“Full of mystery, shocks and surprises. Keeps you hooked till the end”, Chaz Bookworm
I’m so grateful to everyone who has bought and read The Silence and especially those who have taken the trouble to leave a review. Reviews on Amazon really help authors as those with a higher number of reviews get seen by more people.
Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings
My debut novel Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings was published by Crooked Cat in July 2016.
It’s 1931. Not much has gone right for Jack since he left Cambridge last year. His career has failed to take off, his girlfriend has ditched him for someone with better prospects and he’s now received an invitation to their wedding. He dreads having to go there alone surrounded by his high-achieving peers so when a beautiful girl he meets by chance offers to accompany him, he believes he has found the answer to his prayers. But by accepting her offer he finds himself drawn into a world of intrigue and murder…
Why I wrote it
I’ve written non-fiction for nearly three decades as a journalist and magazine editor but creative writing has always been my guilty secret. A couple of years ago I made the decision there was little point writing if no one was ever going to read what I’d written, however bad it was, so I set out to brave the rejections. I wrote some short stories which have been published in magazines and then embarked on a novel that had been going round in my head for a decade, sparked by a true story my grandmother told me. Once I started writing, however, it took on a life of its own.
Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings is on sale in paperback £7.99 and eBook £1.99. You can buy it on this link: Lies
Some of the things readers have said about Lies Mistakes and Misunderstandings in five-star reviews:
“What a fantastic book. I sort of fell in love with Jack.”
“If you’re looking for an intriguing read you won’t want to put down this is the book for you!”
“Sharp and intelligent prose that keeps you on the edge of your seat.”
“I would recommend this novel to everybody, especially those who are interested in mystery novels.”
“Gripping from start to finish.”
“Loved it. Would definitely recommend it.”
“Intriguing mystery and vivid description with a great surprise ending.”
“Great debut – I look forward to the author’s next book!”
“A riveting and rewarding read”
“I couldn’t put it down, I was so engrossed”
“Complex and intriguing. I want to read it again!”