I absolutely love Liz Fenwick’s novels and she’s featured on my Top Reads list at least twice. I was really excited to read her latest novel which is a historical fiction romance set in World War Two. Isn’t that cover just gorgeous? If you have an indie bookshop near you, you might be lucky enough to get a hold of the signed editions they are selling which come with a special cover, as well as exclusive content including a piece about women in geography during the war.
About the Book
As one of the Navy’s most skilled mapmakers, Merry knows the very lives of men far away depend on her work in the War Office.
But when a family crisis draws her back to her beloved Cornwall, Merry finds herself working alongside an enigmatic American officer on secret operations spanning the rugged coasts of Cornwall and Brittany which she knows so well.
But not everything is as clear as the maps she draws. As rumours and suspicion swirl around her family, Merry is increasingly drawn to Jake, despite the defences she’s built around her heart. It’s a dangerous time to fall in love when there is everything to lose as the tides of war are rising…
The Secret Shore made me aware of an aspect of World War Two I hadn’t known about before before. As a cartographer, a mapmaker, Merry is attuned to every little detail of what might be important in her work and how the smallest of mistakes can have huge consequences for the military personnel using her maps. That attention to detail is reflected in Liz Fenwick’s writing. This book is full of historical detail, impeccably researched and incorporated naturally in the flow of the story. It was so interesting to read about the challenges faced by Merry, and other women like her, in being accepted as just as intelligent and capable of carrying out important war work as men were. The role of women was changing but some aspects were so entrenched that women often had to choose between a career and love.
As well as following Merry’s war work, there is a mystery in the book about what happened to her mother who disappeared. Mapping, facts and details are important to Merry and she takes this approach when to trying to find out what happened to her mother. I liked that through Merry’s recollections we got glimpses of what her mother was like.
As I’ve come to expect, Liz Fenwick’s descriptions of the physical landscape and nature are just wonderful. She brings the natural world vividly to life on the page whether that’s describing the woodlands, the riverside or the animals making their homes there. This gave a sense of life going on as usual for nature, unaffected by the war, a sign that life would one day return to normal. Although, of course, for many people who suffered loss or injury life would never be entirely normal again and this aspect of war is also covered rather poignantly in the novel.
I’ve been immersed in this novel for the past few days. I was totally caught up in the story of Merry’s life and completely lost myself in the pages of the book. The Secret Shore is an epic story of danger, courage and love in times of uncertainty. I adored it!
My thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy of the book my way. The Secret Shore is published by HQ Stories and available in hardback, digital and audiobook formats.
About the Author
Novelist, wife, mother of three, slave to two cats and dreamer turned doer….
Award winning author of The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger, Under A Cornish Sky, The Returning Tide, One Cornish Summer, The Path to the Sea, The River Between Us and the novella A Cornish Christmas Carol. She lives in Cornwall with her husband and spends her time wrangling two mad cats, plot walking, reading and procrastinating on social media.