Secrets My Father Kept by Rachel Givney. (2021).
**4.5 out of 5 stars**
It’s February 1939. Total war is looming but in Krakow, 17 year old Marie’s primary concern is the unexplained disappearance of her mother 16 years ago, and her father Dominik’s unbreakable silence on the matter. Dominik is a well-respected and innovative doctor at the local hospital and has devoted his life to caring for his only daughter. Yet a black fear haunts him – over the questionable act he committed to keep Marie safe. He now needs to find a husband to protect Marie. But Marie has already chosen her husband, Ben, and is determined his Jewish faith won’t stand in the way of their future. Nor will his father’s refusal to explain the past stop her from unpicking his darkest secret…
Loved this one! It seems at the moment there is a spate of WWII era novels, even specifically set in Poland, but this one is a standout. It’s set just before Poland was invaded so while the atmosphere is tense, it’s not quite war time yet. It was both refreshing and a bit sad to be following Marie’s perspective: an intelligent and yet rather naive young woman who at 17 is in love and nothing at all will stand in the way of her marrying, including religion, pending war, and her father’s wishes. Meanwhile Marie is determined to find out what happened to her missing mother, beginning with her name. Her father Dominik loves Marie and is determined to protect her at any cost, and is also clearly hiding a dark secret in connection with her mother… I appreciated that the author included a dual timeline later in the book so we learnt of Dominik and Marie’s mother’s history, this was very well executed.
Overall: I highly recommend this extremely well-written and absorbing historical fiction that will captivate readers.