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Review of 'The Secret Notebook' - Julia Wild

When Izzie Dean’s beloved nan, Molly Blackshaw, passes away, Izzie returns to the Blackpool bungalow where she grew up, to say goodbye once and for all. When Izzie’s homecoming reunites her with her first love, Justin Swift, every emotion that Izzie has repressed since the day he broke her heart comes rushing to the surface. But then an unexpected discovery changes everything.

Between the pages of the battered secret diary Molly kept during WWII, Izzie discovers a story of love, heartbreak, and the incomparable hardship of life in a world at war. Reading her grandmother’s words soon puts her own story into perspective, and suddenly Izzie realises that the only thing holding her back from happiness, might be herself. Now she just has to convince Justin that they deserve a second chance at forever…

I agreed to review this book primarily because it was set in Blackpool and much of the action takes place in World War Two. I'm so glad I did. It made me feel very nostalgic for the place I grew up in and Julia Wild captures the very essence of Blackpool in this book. To the casual visitor it can look a bit jaded and run-down but to those of us who really know the place, there is something inherently magical about it. I've done a lot of research about Blackpool during the war for the purposes of my own writing, so I know that every single thing mentioned in the book is accurate. However, the beauty of good writing is to make that research almost invisible and Wild does that. The mentions of the Freckleton and Wharton disasters are made to feel absolutely natural because of the inclusion of the American character and all the parts about what Blackpool was like at the time arise as a result of the plot rather than 'I've done my research, now let me tell you all about it.' I know this is not an easy thing to do, particularly if you've really enjoyed what you've learned!

This is a love story on two levels - one set in World War Two and the other in the modern day. I was more heavily invested in the modern story because it was obvious from the beginning that the cause of their separation was not as clear cut as the protagonist believed it to be and I wanted to know what had actually happened. In the historical story, we knew how it worked out in the end because of the modern story, however, even there I wondered if there might be a twist somewhere and I like the fact that even knowing the ending, I was still kept guessing to an extent. Again, I know this isn't the easiest thing to achieve.

This book fits very comfortably into the romance genre, but could also be classed as historical fiction and works just as well in either category. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and even though I hate sandy feet, I now have an urge to go and paddle in the sea in Blackpool. My final comments are these:

In the book, one of the characters says that they only remember the sunny days and although Blackpool is VERY often not sunny, I concur with that assessment - the Blackpool of my childhood was predominantly sunny. However, the same character describes the sea as warm and that is definitely NOT something I remember! Seriously though - I love when a location I know well is truly brought to life in a book and Julia Wild obviously shares my love of the town.

Author Bio – Lancashire born, I moved to Bedfordshire in the late seventies, married and started a family. I’m a past Hon Sec of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, have been a member since 1993 when I joined their New Writers’ Scheme as a probationer. That came about after winning a week’s historical writing course on the strength of the first chapter of my third Poldark-era romance. The tutor on the last day loved the story and handed me details of the Romantic Novelists’ Association – she said I absolutely must join as they would be able to help me towards publication.

Some four years later my first published book, Dark Canvas, won the RNA’s New Writer’s Award in 1997, the sixth, Illusions, won the RNA’s Romance Prize in 2003.

After working in the local library service for 18 years, during library cut-backs I took the leap to become self-employed as a writer and worked on releasing my backlist as eBooks for Kindle.

Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with amazing Charlotte Ledger when she pulled me from the writing wilderness and have now signed a three-book deal with One More Chapter.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @juliawildauthor

Instagram: juliawildauthor

Don't forget to check out the rest of Julia's blog tour - details below!

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