Monday, June 3, 2013

The Keeper of Secrets, Julie Thomas (4.5 stars)

About The Keeper of Secrets

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (May 28, 2013)

A priceless violin. A family torn apart.

A decision that could change everything.

Berlin, 1939. Fourteen-year-old Simon Horowitz is awash in a world of music. His family owns a superb collection of instruments and at its heart is his father’s 1742 Guarneri del Gesú violin. But all is lost when the Nazis march across Europe, the Horowitz family’s possessions are confiscated, and Simon and his father and brother are sent to Dachau. Amid unimaginable cruelty and death, Simon finds kindness from an unexpected corner, and a chance to pick up a violin in exchange for a chance to live.

In the present day, orchestra conductor Rafael Gomez has seen much in his time on the world’s stage, but he finds himself oddly inspired by the playing of an aspiring violin virtuoso, a fantastic talent who is just fourteen. When the boy, Daniel Horowitz, Simon’s grandson, suddenly rebels and refuses to play another note, Rafael decides he’ll do anything he can to change that. After Rafael learns the boy’s family once owned a precious violin, believed to have been lost forever, he thinks he might know how to get Daniel playing again. In taking on the task he discovers a family story like no other, one that winds from World War II and Communist Russia all the way to Rafael’s very own stage.


A fourteen-year-old boy who plays the violin as well as a man with three times his experience would be story enough. But add to that generations of loss and a violin that symbolizes those losses, and you go from a story to a great story.

Daniel loves the violin, but he also loves baseball. His mother demands he give up baseball to focus on his amazing musical talent. A stand-off begins. Rafael is a conductor who is sympathetic to Daniel's feelings, but he doesn't want to see the boy's talent wasted. A determination to see Daniel play leads Rafael to an amazing discovery, one that will change many lives.

But there's so much more at play here than a coming-of-age story. Daniel is part of a musical legacy. In World War II, his grandfather's family owned a priceless violin. The Germans destroyed their family and took all their valuables, among them the violin. 

Weaving between the present and the past, Julie Thomas does an amazing job of creating memorable characters and an unforgettable, at times heartbreaking, story. I've read many amazing books based in the WWII era, and The Keeper of Secrets finds its own place among the best of them. Intense and emotional, there's still room for hope, love, and courage.

I highly recommend for readers who want to open a book and lose themselves in a beautifully written story.

Rating: 4.5 stars

About Julie Thomas

Julie Thomas lives in Cambridge, New Zealand. She wrote The Keeper of Secrets over a seven-year period while writing and producing television and film full-time.

Connect with Julie on Facebook.

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on The Keeper of Secrets blog tour page.


Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of WWII-era stories and this one sounds amazing. Thanks for being on the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.