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The Keeper of Secrets

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Beautiful and mysterious, this debut novel follows a priceless violin across five decades-from WWII to Stalinist Russia to the gilded international concert halls of today-and reveals the loss, love, and secrets of the families who owned it. A priceless violin. A family torn apart. A decision that could change everything. Berlin, 1939. Fourteen year old Simon Horowitz is awas Beautiful and mysterious, this debut novel follows a priceless violin across five decades-from WWII to Stalinist Russia to the gilded international concert halls of today-and reveals the loss, love, and secrets of the families who owned it. 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 de Gesu violin. But all is lost when the Nazis march across Europe 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 again and 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 only just fourteen. Then the boy, Daniel Horowitz, suddenly refuses to play another note, and Rafael knows he'll do anything he can to change that. When he learns the boy's family once owned a precious violin, believed to have been lost forever, Rafael thinks he might know exactly how to get Daniel playing again. In taking on the task he discovers a family story like no other that winds from World War II and Communist Russia all the way to Rafael's very own stage.


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Beautiful and mysterious, this debut novel follows a priceless violin across five decades-from WWII to Stalinist Russia to the gilded international concert halls of today-and reveals the loss, love, and secrets of the families who owned it. A priceless violin. A family torn apart. A decision that could change everything. Berlin, 1939. Fourteen year old Simon Horowitz is awas Beautiful and mysterious, this debut novel follows a priceless violin across five decades-from WWII to Stalinist Russia to the gilded international concert halls of today-and reveals the loss, love, and secrets of the families who owned it. 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 de Gesu violin. But all is lost when the Nazis march across Europe 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 again and 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 only just fourteen. Then the boy, Daniel Horowitz, suddenly refuses to play another note, and Rafael knows he'll do anything he can to change that. When he learns the boy's family once owned a precious violin, believed to have been lost forever, Rafael thinks he might know exactly how to get Daniel playing again. In taking on the task he discovers a family story like no other that winds from World War II and Communist Russia all the way to Rafael's very own stage.

30 review for The Keeper of Secrets

  1. 5 out of 5

    Always Pouting

    The premise was interesting but the writing was not that great and kept getting bored while reading and had to force myself to finish. Also plotline was obvious a quarter of the way in I think so that didn't help, you'd want to build suspense for a story like this one The premise was interesting but the writing was not that great and kept getting bored while reading and had to force myself to finish. Also plotline was obvious a quarter of the way in I think so that didn't help, you'd want to build suspense for a story like this one

  2. 4 out of 5

    Myrna

    Great story about a missing Guarneri violin. The tale is told through several decades and the people who loved and knew its worth. I liked how the stories intermingled and came together at the end. 3.5 stars!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bev Walkling

    For a debut novel I found this story very impressive. It moves between the past and present day in telling the story of an incredible violin and the different people who owned it. The story begins in Berlin in February of 1935 when life was getting very difficult for anyone of Jewish ethnicity. Simon Horowitz is following in the family tradition of playing the violin - a tradition passed on from father to son and so on. His family own a bank and believe that nothing bad will happen to them. They For a debut novel I found this story very impressive. It moves between the past and present day in telling the story of an incredible violin and the different people who owned it. The story begins in Berlin in February of 1935 when life was getting very difficult for anyone of Jewish ethnicity. Simon Horowitz is following in the family tradition of playing the violin - a tradition passed on from father to son and so on. His family own a bank and believe that nothing bad will happen to them. They own many storied instruments including ones from the 17th and 18th century. The most impressive is a 1742 Guarneri del Gesu which their family had owned for over 150 years and Simon knows that he is destined to play it as part of his career. Jump to 2008. Simon's grandson Daniel Horowitz has also been taught to play the violin and is exceptionally talented. He is fourteen though and baseball is just as important to him as music so when his parents ask him to stop playing baseball in case he will hurt his fingers,he rebels and refuses to play the violin at all. A Spanish conductor works hard to try and come up with a solution to the problem and get Daniel playing again. He determines to track down the 1742 Guarneri which was stolen from the Horowitz family by the Nazi's. Back to 1935 and the reader learns the horrific story of what happened to Simon and his family. We learn of the violin's theft and the subsequent internment at Dachau of three members of the family. How Simon manages to survive is an incredible story that I won't spoil by going into details. The next part begins in 1945 when the violin through interesting circumstances ends up in the hands of a Russian who loves music and gifts it to his daughter, an extremely talented violinist. It is not an easy time in Russia, and even within a family, one must be careful not to say too much in case a family member will turn you in to the authorities. Finally the story returns to 2008 and we learn how the violin returns to inspire Daniel Horowitz and his family. While this story is a novel, the circumstances of the theft of instrument were true to what actually happened in Germany and surrounding countries during the war. Instruments and works of art were stolen and very few were returned to their original owners afterwards because most of them were dead or could not be located. The author poses the question of what one would do if faced with the knowledge that the original owner was indeed still alive and deserving of the return of his/her property. I was drawn into the story very quickly. The author clearly loves music and describes the violin and different musical pieces in great detail. Some reviewers don't care for that but I found it fascinating. The part of the story told in the past was the most interesting to me, but one part led smoothly into the next and I felt I grew to understand the different characters and their motivations. The book was written over a seven year period while the author was also working full-time. Clearly she still managed to fit in some time to research and it has paid off in an excellent book. The story could be read by young adults but is equally fascinating for adults and especially to those who love music and history.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Overall score: 3.5/5 stars. "The Secret Keeper" is the story of two families (one German Jewish and the other Russian) who are bound together by a single, priceless instrument: a 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin. The Horowitz family loses everything in the Holocaust, including the precious instrument ... which, through a variety of circumstances becomes the property of the Valentino family. We see the story of both families, across several generations, beginning before the onset of WWII and ending in Overall score: 3.5/5 stars. "The Secret Keeper" is the story of two families (one German Jewish and the other Russian) who are bound together by a single, priceless instrument: a 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin. The Horowitz family loses everything in the Holocaust, including the precious instrument ... which, through a variety of circumstances becomes the property of the Valentino family. We see the story of both families, across several generations, beginning before the onset of WWII and ending in 2008. Throughout the story, we see the travels of the precious Guarnerius. Julie Thomas clearly knows both her classical music and her violins. I have been privileged to hear a 1742 Guarnerius played in concert and there truly is nothing like it (she goes on in detail about what makes this particular make and model violin so unique). She also knows how to tell a story; the plot was gripping. I came to think of every character as a real person, and felt tremendous sympathy for young Daniel Horowitz, a gifted violinist who would rather be playing baseball with his friends when all is said and done. Unfortunately, the book suffered from editorial issues. There were numerous instances when quotation marks and italics should have been used to differentiate musical pieces from the surrounding text ... and others where it was done correctly. There were also several run-on sentences that could have used a semi-colon. Unfortunately, this book has been removed from Smashwords. I also like to review books at the site where they were purchased, but that is not possible in this case. Overall, it's an entertaining read that classical music buffs, violinists, and historical fiction lovers are sure to enjoy ... with the caveats listed above.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    A violin, a family, a war, a young musician "I would like to dedicate this piece to poppa (grandfather) and to all my family I never knew". Daniel Horowitz, a 14 year old violinist, says this prior to performing at one concert. His family is Jewish, from Berlin and many of them perished in the camps during World War II. They also had all their worldly goods stolen from them including a priceless 1742 Guarneri del Gesu. This is the story of that instrument and the people who played it and cared fo A violin, a family, a war, a young musician "I would like to dedicate this piece to poppa (grandfather) and to all my family I never knew". Daniel Horowitz, a 14 year old violinist, says this prior to performing at one concert. His family is Jewish, from Berlin and many of them perished in the camps during World War II. They also had all their worldly goods stolen from them including a priceless 1742 Guarneri del Gesu. This is the story of that instrument and the people who played it and cared for it in the 20th and early 21st centuries. "Keeper of Secrets" is a sweet, affecting story about music but the most interesting parts were the sections about the Horowitz family and what happened to them prior, during and after World War II as well as the history of violin making in general. There is nothing in depth about either history but enough to make the character's feelings comprehensible and account for the passion involved in making and playing music.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A heart-wrenchingly good book that I didn't want to put it down. The life of the violin is a wonderful tribute to things lost and found. I would recommend this book to all of my friends as the story sucks you in and leads you through a wonderful journey of life and love. A heart-wrenchingly good book that I didn't want to put it down. The life of the violin is a wonderful tribute to things lost and found. I would recommend this book to all of my friends as the story sucks you in and leads you through a wonderful journey of life and love.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarala

    It's said that good things come in small packages. How true has that proven to be in this case. I'm a student of violin. Violin is where I escape to, a place far away from my worries. So this book was a treat for me. For this books protagonist is not a person, but a thing. If you can call a violin a thing, that is. The book revolves around a German family's attachment to their heritage. To read the rest, go here/a> It's said that good things come in small packages. How true has that proven to be in this case. I'm a student of violin. Violin is where I escape to, a place far away from my worries. So this book was a treat for me. For this books protagonist is not a person, but a thing. If you can call a violin a thing, that is. The book revolves around a German family's attachment to their heritage. To read the rest, go here/a>

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Silvestri-Oetinger

    Very Pleased that I chose this book for a book club read. It caught my interest from the start. I enjoyed the parts of the book that describe family relationships and how the war affected those relationships. For me, it got a little complicated with the switching of the 1930's and present time and keeping all characters straight. I definately would read another book by this author. Very Pleased that I chose this book for a book club read. It caught my interest from the start. I enjoyed the parts of the book that describe family relationships and how the war affected those relationships. For me, it got a little complicated with the switching of the 1930's and present time and keeping all characters straight. I definately would read another book by this author.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    A fourteen year old Jewish violin virtuoso in Nazi Germany is linked to his counterpart in contemporary America by a priceless violin, superlative talent and family line. In my opinion, this was an unremarkable novel comprised of rather average character development, mediocre writing and a predictable, sweet plot dependent on implausible coincidences and extraordinary circumstances.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    The story of a priceless violin, whose value is not only in monetary terms, nor in the beauty of its tone, but in what it means to two different families. Though the instrument was made in the 1700s, we are introduced to its history through a Jewish family in the US. Daniel, a young virtuoso violinist is battling with his parents, torn between his love for playing the violin and baseball. A wise conductor, Raphael becomes aware of the true history of the violin. Presently it is in the hands of a The story of a priceless violin, whose value is not only in monetary terms, nor in the beauty of its tone, but in what it means to two different families. Though the instrument was made in the 1700s, we are introduced to its history through a Jewish family in the US. Daniel, a young virtuoso violinist is battling with his parents, torn between his love for playing the violin and baseball. A wise conductor, Raphael becomes aware of the true history of the violin. Presently it is in the hands of a world-wise Russian who reveres it because of his aunt. The story of Daniel's forbearers and their near extermination by the Nazis. This book is packed with familial love and the love of music. It's only the first of a trilogy, and I want to read the other two, if possible. But I'm glad I read this book by Julie Thomas, a New Zealand author. I highly recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This book is incredibly good. I won it on Goodreads giveaways and I'm so glad I did or I might not have discovered this author. I love Julie Thomas. I don't want to say anything about this story because I want you to discover all its magic on your own. I couldn't put it down. This book is incredibly good. I won it on Goodreads giveaways and I'm so glad I did or I might not have discovered this author. I love Julie Thomas. I don't want to say anything about this story because I want you to discover all its magic on your own. I couldn't put it down.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shoshanah

    Upon finishing this book I wasn't sure know how else to describe it except that it's almost beautiful. In a way, it's kind of like a painting, in that even though I've seen (or in this case read) it once, I can't help but look back on it and smile. The book includes three main story lines. The first is Daniel Horowitz, a fourteen-year-old violin prodigy, who isn't quite ready to devote his life to music. The second part, tells the tale of Daniel's grandfather Simon Horowitz, and the horrors he li Upon finishing this book I wasn't sure know how else to describe it except that it's almost beautiful. In a way, it's kind of like a painting, in that even though I've seen (or in this case read) it once, I can't help but look back on it and smile. The book includes three main story lines. The first is Daniel Horowitz, a fourteen-year-old violin prodigy, who isn't quite ready to devote his life to music. The second part, tells the tale of Daniel's grandfather Simon Horowitz, and the horrors he lived through in Nazi Germany. The third is that of Sergei Valentino, a boy raised by his aunt and grandparents in Stalin's Soviet State. In the last concluding section, all three tales come to one together for the grand finale. If there's any complaint with this, it's that I wanted more. Part of that is because I read the entire thing in a day or two since I couldn't put it down. Maybe if I savored it a little more, I would have felt more fulfilled by it. Instead looking back I wanted more details. I think because each of the subplots could have stood on their own, the fact that they're only a third of a book means in a way we missed out. As for the musical subplot, I'm not really a classical music person, but still really appreciated the musical details within. And I loved all the historical chapters, but still really enjoyed those set in modern day. With everything together, I really loved this book and can't wait till I can read it again. Disclosure: I was provided this book through TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This is one of the books I love most in the world. Saying thank you to "The Keeper of Secrets" author, Julie Thomas, will never come close to expressing how much I see and feel in her writing, and and how much I treasure the story she brought to life for all of us. This is one of the books I love most in the world. Saying thank you to "The Keeper of Secrets" author, Julie Thomas, will never come close to expressing how much I see and feel in her writing, and and how much I treasure the story she brought to life for all of us.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paula Howard

    WOW!!! The Secret Keeper is a must read. The Secret Keeper is about music, WWII, the loss suffered by the Jews at the hands of the Nazi and human nature. The story goes fact and forth in time between the present day and WWII Germany with the same Jewish family. It is easy to follow and you are able to see the cause and effect of the events. The Secret Keeper is about the power of music - especially on the violin. The characters are so real you feel their pain. Julie Thomas has the ability to wri WOW!!! The Secret Keeper is a must read. The Secret Keeper is about music, WWII, the loss suffered by the Jews at the hands of the Nazi and human nature. The story goes fact and forth in time between the present day and WWII Germany with the same Jewish family. It is easy to follow and you are able to see the cause and effect of the events. The Secret Keeper is about the power of music - especially on the violin. The characters are so real you feel their pain. Julie Thomas has the ability to write so that you feel the music as it is being played. It moves your soul. I found myself thinking of the book while not reading it. The feel of the sound of the violin remained with me. She shows the power of music as it takes over the person who plays it. It is the way I wished I could play the piano. I am technical but could never play with the soul like my daughter could. Music sustains us through the most difficult and joyful times of our lives. This is so apparent the the Secret Keeper. The best praise I can give a books is that I don't want it to end. The Secret Keeper by Julie Thomas is a book that consumes you while and after reading it. The Secret Keeper is a book that I didn't want to end. Highly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    Read because it was a mystery about a precious violin, lost in WWII, but reappearing 60 years later. I like music, particularly non-fiction about ancient instruments, and one of the "Troy" novels had a similar subplot. What I didn't know is that Julie Thomas writes like Jeffery Archer. No character development. Russians always have fabulously tailored suits, women like strings of pearls, and underground, temperature-controlled safes. Jews are at best pitiable, requiring third-party deus ex machin Read because it was a mystery about a precious violin, lost in WWII, but reappearing 60 years later. I like music, particularly non-fiction about ancient instruments, and one of the "Troy" novels had a similar subplot. What I didn't know is that Julie Thomas writes like Jeffery Archer. No character development. Russians always have fabulously tailored suits, women like strings of pearls, and underground, temperature-controlled safes. Jews are at best pitiable, requiring third-party deus ex machina to achieve any sort of justice, whereupon they lose all control of their emotions (as compared to the emotionally constipated Britons and Russians). In short, the book is inhabited by cardboard characters; follow the violin, and there's an education. But better to learn it in books such as "Stradivarius", by Faber or "The Cello Suites" by Sibin.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elisha (lishie)

    A beautiful, heart-wrenching story about a violin, a boy, family provenance, as well as innate gifts. Reading this I actually felt the music. Enough history to take my breath away... I cared for the characters deeply, in the present as well as the past & that all makes this a very well-written historical fiction novel for me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    What I liked: Development of characters. Intense - it was a page turner. WWII time period What I didn't like: Strong language: (numerous F words) What I liked: Development of characters. Intense - it was a page turner. WWII time period What I didn't like: Strong language: (numerous F words)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Avi B

    Wow, what beautiful writing...I loved this book. It made me very emotional. Thank you Elizabeth for the recommendation :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Floyd

    I have always gravitated to books written about the period before, during and after WW II. This period in the history of our world is one that needs to be told time and again so we never forget the cost to the many who survived this period and those who lost their lives. In particular we need to keep alive what happened to those who suffered and died during the holocaust. The Jewish people in particular were subject to unspeakable horrors. The story of the violin and the Horowitz family reflects I have always gravitated to books written about the period before, during and after WW II. This period in the history of our world is one that needs to be told time and again so we never forget the cost to the many who survived this period and those who lost their lives. In particular we need to keep alive what happened to those who suffered and died during the holocaust. The Jewish people in particular were subject to unspeakable horrors. The story of the violin and the Horowitz family reflects what happened to so many Jewish families throughout this period. The prejudice that was stoked against them gave rise to fear and hatred which resulted in so much suffering. Throughout the history of the world hatred and prejudice has been used against so many people and unfortunately continues to this day. This is why it is so important for stories both fiction and non-fiction cover some of the most horrific periods of our world so we never forget. History is important and telling a human story may result in someone who would not normally read a history book stop and read and reflect on what has happened in the past to prevent it from happening again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Pollock

    I can’t rate this book higher than this because by the end, it was obvious that it began as a self-publishing success. The concept is right up my alley, but as the book progressed the lack of the kind of editorial guidance that comes from a professional publisher was more and more obvious. Simplistic structure, character/plot development disappointments, weird little factual errors or cognitive dissonances...it just reinforced how even a good writer with a good idea isn’t producing the quality o I can’t rate this book higher than this because by the end, it was obvious that it began as a self-publishing success. The concept is right up my alley, but as the book progressed the lack of the kind of editorial guidance that comes from a professional publisher was more and more obvious. Simplistic structure, character/plot development disappointments, weird little factual errors or cognitive dissonances...it just reinforced how even a good writer with a good idea isn’t producing the quality of work she otherwise would with the editorial support of a team. Maybe you can bust out a formulaic series of, say, cozy mysteries on your own but literary fiction like this aspires to be? Harder. Harper Collins acquired this plus the sequels, so I’ll probably read the next one and see if there’s an improvement in the elements that bothered me here.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    More of a 3.5 overall- I loved the story line. I'm a sucker for some WWII historical fiction, but there's a lot out there! We're pretty much inundated with it lately, so I found the spin of tracing the story through the violin to be a refreshing change of pace. With all the atrocities that initially come to mind when you think of WWII, I feel like it's easy to forget, or not even be aware of that particular aspect- how many priceless pieces of art and culture were stolen, or even destroyed is he More of a 3.5 overall- I loved the story line. I'm a sucker for some WWII historical fiction, but there's a lot out there! We're pretty much inundated with it lately, so I found the spin of tracing the story through the violin to be a refreshing change of pace. With all the atrocities that initially come to mind when you think of WWII, I feel like it's easy to forget, or not even be aware of that particular aspect- how many priceless pieces of art and culture were stolen, or even destroyed is heartbreaking. At times, the writing itself seemed... I've been struggling for the right word... inelegent? inexperienced?? stilted??? ...I'm still not sure how to say exactly what about it struck me, but it mostly pertained to the actual diaologue, as opposed to anything internal. All in all, the writing itself was probably more of a 3 star, but I loved the story itself.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Not a favorite. Too much talk of violins lost my interest. The only part of the book that captured my attention was Part 2 which was heart-wrenching. Otherwise I didn’t really connect with the characters outside of this section of the story. I found myself skimming through the remainder of the book to finish it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy

    This book wasn't really bad. But it was choppy and somewhat basic in the writing. I did enjoy all of the passion around the violin and its music. This book wasn't really bad. But it was choppy and somewhat basic in the writing. I did enjoy all of the passion around the violin and its music.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Antony Millen

    "The Keeper of Secrets" is written by Cambridge, New Zealand author, Julie Thomas. I first heard about Thomas and her book just over a year ago in an article in the "New Zealand Herald" (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/n...). I had just published my first novel and was intrigued and inspired by her story as she, too, penned her novel while others slept and while she maintained a full-time career. I was also captured by her success at the time. After rejections from publishing houses, Thomas "The Keeper of Secrets" is written by Cambridge, New Zealand author, Julie Thomas. I first heard about Thomas and her book just over a year ago in an article in the "New Zealand Herald" (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/n...). I had just published my first novel and was intrigued and inspired by her story as she, too, penned her novel while others slept and while she maintained a full-time career. I was also captured by her success at the time. After rejections from publishing houses, Thomas published her novel as an e-book and sales soared on Amazon. After that success, she was picked up by HarperCollins and re-worked the book as we know it today. The book certainly deserves its success and critical acclaim. It tells the story of the Horowitz family in both World War II era and modern day. The family is practically obliterated during the holocaust, separated into concentration camps, many of them killed. Their possessions are stolen, including their most valuable violin, an item of inestimable worth to the world as well. The key figure of this era, Simon Horowitz, survives and it is his grandson, Daniel, who is the protagonist of the modern plot-line. Daniel is a fourteen-year old prodigy who conflicts with his mother over his right to play baseball with his friends, resulting in his refusal to play the violin any longer. Much of the story is developed and shaped by Raphael Gomez, the conductor and advocate for Daniel who, in his attempt to resolve the familial dispute, discovers more about the family's past and draws connections to the lost violin. Thomas' prose is crisp and efficient, well edited and very readable. Her strength is certainly in her ability to integrate her passion and knowledge of classical music and instruments into the storyline in a way that is accessible to readers lacking familiarity with such content. Most of her characters are strong and vivid, particularly Simon and Raphael. Her writing in the modern era at the beginning and the end of the book read, for me, like a young adult novel whereas her writing in the middle of the book covering the holocaust era is much more sophisticated and engrossing. Even in the middle section, it took me a bit to warm up to her story-telling. Perhaps after so many books and films about the holocaust, it felt like she was setting a scene that had already been set by others and in better ways. However, the backdrop she creates is absolutely necessary and is done well enough to prepare you for the key turning point when young Simon is caught playing the violin by the Nazi guard. It's a compelling scene and the book is stronger from there. Similarly, the subsequent background storyline of Sergei Valentine skips along and, at times, I wished Thomas would slow down as I didn't feel like I was getting to know this important character well enough - or that I wasn't feeling any empathy for him as was intended. However, by the time this storyline ends with the death of Yulena, I did feel quite badly for the future gregarious Russian. Once this scene ends, I really did want to find out how the story would end which is a credit to Thomas' ablity to build tension with the various (though not overly complicated) strands she had woven. The book is not a mystery, as Thomas reveals much by this point, but it does make you want to find out how things will be resolved. As for the resolution, I was only partially satisified - too happy an ending for me and perhaps some characters acting out of character. However, by the end, I felt I'd read a decent book, written well and with genuine heart and passion by a good New Zealand author. Antony Millen is a Canadian author living and writing in New Zealand. He is the author of the novels Redeeming Brother Murrihy: The River To Hiruharama and Te Kauhanga: A Tale of Space(s).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I received an Advanced Reading Copy of “The Keeper of Secrets” by Julie Thomas from HarperCollins Publishers and thereadingroom.com. I am very happy to write that it has been a pleasure reading this book. The story sweeps from pre-war Germany in 1939 to 2008 in the USA. We meet a boy who is amazing at playing the violin but is torn between his talent and just being a normal – baseball playing – kid. Daniel Horowitz loves music passionately, but he also loves hanging out with his friends playing I received an Advanced Reading Copy of “The Keeper of Secrets” by Julie Thomas from HarperCollins Publishers and thereadingroom.com. I am very happy to write that it has been a pleasure reading this book. The story sweeps from pre-war Germany in 1939 to 2008 in the USA. We meet a boy who is amazing at playing the violin but is torn between his talent and just being a normal – baseball playing – kid. Daniel Horowitz loves music passionately, but he also loves hanging out with his friends playing baseball and doesn’t want to choose between the two. When faced with the choice, he wants to quit the violin and just “be normal”. His life changes when he meets orchestra conductor – Rafael Gomez – who embarks on a plan to help Daniel continue to play the violin. Rafael learns of the Horowitz family tragedy and knows that he must help them no matter the cost to himself. The book takes us back to Daniel’s family history which is wrapped up in musical instruments of great value. The Horowitz family were Jewish Germans living in Berlin as the Nazi government came to power and took away all that was precious to them. The story of Simon, Daniel’s grandfather, is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. His awful experiences at the hands of the Nazis and his great love for music and the instruments his family owned kept me reading late into the night to find out what would happen. Simon’s story is one of survival and was one of the best parts of this novel. I don’t really know anything about the making of musical instruments - such as violins - and was concerned that I would be lost while reading this book. On the contrary, the author’s knowledge and passion for music and the history of violin making leads the reader to understand and even catch the “spark” of her passion. I was amazed to learn about the differences each violin maker creates in an individual instrument and how the instruments have survived hundreds of years and many talented players. The sounds these instruments make are all unique. The instrument in this book is a 1742 Guarneri del Gesú and the description is beautiful along with the love given to the instrument over hundreds of years. I hope to read more books from Julie Thomas in the future. This book is an emotional and educational read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    "The Keeper of Secrets" really is a story about a family and what brings a family together. I love reading about families and the ties that bind them. This book also involves a priceless violin and while I was never really good at playing any instruments (I failed at playing the flute and the piano), I appreciate the ability of music to bring people together. Add some great historical detail and you have a fantastic book that will keep you engaged. I really enjoyed reading about the family at the "The Keeper of Secrets" really is a story about a family and what brings a family together. I love reading about families and the ties that bind them. This book also involves a priceless violin and while I was never really good at playing any instruments (I failed at playing the flute and the piano), I appreciate the ability of music to bring people together. Add some great historical detail and you have a fantastic book that will keep you engaged. I really enjoyed reading about the family at the center of the book. It was so interesting to see them both in the past and the near present. You really feel for Simon and everything that his family goes through. There are a lot of characters in the book and some of the names are the same or similar, which made it a little difficult to keep up (I had to keep referring back to previous chapters to make sure that I was keeping everyone straight. There wasn't just one character that I liked. I wanted to see what happened to all of the characters. This book takes place in two time frames: late 1930s/ early 1940s in Europe and the mid-2000s. I really enjoyed reading both the story set in the past and the story set in the present, which sometimes does not happen for me. Being a historical fiction lover, I tend to like the story set in the past better. I must also mention that I really liked the scenes set in the Kennedy Center. This is a small thing but I love books that give glimpses into the Washington, D.C. area that don't have anything to do with politics. The Kennedy Center is one of my very favorite places in D.C. Seeing a show or a concert there is truly magical! Overall, this is a great but short historical fiction book for readers who love reading about WWII and families!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I received a copy of The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas as an Early Reviewer for Librarything.com in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. Initially, I did not think I was going to enjoy The Keeper of Secrets. The author's writing style was distracting with the abundance of adjectives used to describe every person, place and thing. I am not sure if, over several chapters, I became accustomed to Ms. Thomas' writing style or if the author's writing changed as her novel progressed, but I I received a copy of The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas as an Early Reviewer for Librarything.com in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions. Initially, I did not think I was going to enjoy The Keeper of Secrets. The author's writing style was distracting with the abundance of adjectives used to describe every person, place and thing. I am not sure if, over several chapters, I became accustomed to Ms. Thomas' writing style or if the author's writing changed as her novel progressed, but I did adapt to it as I became more involved with the story. It is always appealing when a book can teach something new to its reader. I learned a great deal about violins, their beauty, their history, their craftsmanship, and their designers. Equally as interesting, but also heartbreaking, was the connection of these extraordinary instruments to the Holocaust and how they represented many of the precious items confiscated from the Jewish people by the Nazis during World War II. The violin stood as a beacon of hope for the Horowitz family during this desperate and bleak period of history. The author presented a very rich and satisfying story, yet, certain situations were too convenient, too simple; resolution was too easy. I thought the Epilogue was a nice touch. I always appreciate getting a glimpse of what became of the characters. I enjoyed The Keeper of Secrets, and I do recommend reading it, but with some reservations. I would have rated this item with 3 1/2 stars if given the option.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sweetp-1

    Julie Thomas can write. This book reads like it was written by a bona fide published best selling author. Currently it is a free kindle download - absolute proof that there are truly talented authors out there sharing their works for free. The Secret Keeper tells the history of a priceless antique violin, through WW2 to modern times. On this description alone it is not perhaps a book I would have necessarily chosen myself. It's hard to try and shove it neatly into a genre - little bit of mystery Julie Thomas can write. This book reads like it was written by a bona fide published best selling author. Currently it is a free kindle download - absolute proof that there are truly talented authors out there sharing their works for free. The Secret Keeper tells the history of a priceless antique violin, through WW2 to modern times. On this description alone it is not perhaps a book I would have necessarily chosen myself. It's hard to try and shove it neatly into a genre - little bit of mystery, a little bit historical fiction (WWII including a section set in Dachau, and in Russia during Stalin), and little bit coming of age. At times it is a heartbreaking story of loss and tragedy but at the heart of it is themes about the universal love of music. Thomas does a magnificent job of describing classical music, performing musicians and the instrument that binds the many threads of the plot together. I found myself looking up some of the pieces described in the book after I finished reading (Debussy's Girl with the Flaxen Hair is a must listen, haunting and evocative of the whole tone of the novel IMO). A well developed and satisfying plot, and a totally enjoyable read by a NZ author I will certainly be reading more from.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    “The Keeper of Secrets” by Julie Thomas captured my heart on many levels. It is a well written and emotional read. This is the story of a very special violin, the love of baseball and music, and Simon Horowitz’s wealthy Jewish family. It also is about the impact of World War II, Communist Russia and the horror of Dachau. This is a well researched book and part of the emotional scenes reminded me of several other books I have read such as The Book Thief and Rose Colored Glass. In this story, Thom “The Keeper of Secrets” by Julie Thomas captured my heart on many levels. It is a well written and emotional read. This is the story of a very special violin, the love of baseball and music, and Simon Horowitz’s wealthy Jewish family. It also is about the impact of World War II, Communist Russia and the horror of Dachau. This is a well researched book and part of the emotional scenes reminded me of several other books I have read such as The Book Thief and Rose Colored Glass. In this story, Thomas tells of the pain and sadness of prejudice and discrimination and the horrible toll that war and betrayal can have on families and individual. Also described is the resiliency of the human spirit and how shared joy can bring people together and help heal wounds of the soul. From Berlin in 1935 to New Zealand in 2008, you are taken back and forth in time and history to make the past and the lives of the characters come alive. As a former violin player, a lover of music and reading and a traveler who recently visited new Zealand, I connected with this book immediately. I would like to thank Librarything and HarperCollins Publishing for a copy of this book. This book deserves a full 4 stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I really liked this book, possibly as the main characters - a young violin virtuoso and an interesting orchestra conductor - are such likable people. Also, part of the story takes place during the WWII time period and I always like books written about that period of time. This book has a way of flowing so softly, smoothly that makes it such an easy read. And difficult to put down. I liked the way that it flows between the WWII Germany time period and then to the present day, very seamlessly. The I really liked this book, possibly as the main characters - a young violin virtuoso and an interesting orchestra conductor - are such likable people. Also, part of the story takes place during the WWII time period and I always like books written about that period of time. This book has a way of flowing so softly, smoothly that makes it such an easy read. And difficult to put down. I liked the way that it flows between the WWII Germany time period and then to the present day, very seamlessly. The story centers on a Jewish family during the Berlin 1935 time period, who owned priceless musical instruments, including a 1742 Guarneri del Gesù violin. What happens to this violin during the war years is the basis for the story. I was pleased to learn more about the maker of this violin and that it truly is one of the best made violins in the world. You will follow the violin through the turmoil of WWII, into Stalinist Russia, and then into the present being played in concert halls. Give the book a try and it will open your eyes to classical music and the violin as such a center point of orchestral music. And it will also make you shudder at how the Nazis took so much from our world.

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