A little girl goes missing from Yew Tree Manor – the same house from which a girl vanished decades before. Does the key to the present lie buried even deeper in the past, in the forgotten history of an innocent midwife accused by a family of shocking betrayal? A gripping, heartwrenching story of love, loyalty and family secrets.

When six-year-old Alice Hilton goes missing in the snow on New Year’s Eve 1969 from Yew Tree Manor, suspicion immediately falls on local man Bobby James. James had a grievance against Alice’s father, wealthy Richard Hilton, and he is arrested, tried and found guilty for Alice’s death. Tragically the child is never found.

Decades later, Willow James, an architect working on a development at Yew Tree Manor, discovers that the land surrounding the house is holding a secret. And when another little girl goes missing from Yew Tree, Willow realises the key to her disappearance lies in the history of the house, and the two families attached to it. A terrible wrong needs to be made right…and to uncover it, Willow must unravel events from long ago, when in 1919 a court sentenced a midwife to death, for a shocking crime that happened at Yew Tree Manor…

My Review

I’m glad I had a picture of the family tree as otherwise I would have been totally confused by the two families over five generations. I was still referring to it at the end. However, I loved this book. It’s absorbing and full of the kind of emotions that will make you angry and sad at the same time.

We have two families – the haves and the have-nots. The Hiltons are wealthy, arrogant and downright nasty at times and no-one stands in their way. They live at Yew Tree Manor, but also own The Vicarage nearby which is let to the poorer James family. Tessa James is a midwife, loved and admired by the women who come to her to deliver their babies, but also by those who cannot have another child for many different reasons, all of them sad and none their fault. Tessa is reviled by the medical profession, despised by the church and eventually used as a scapegoat for the tragic death of Evelyn Hilton. Her daughter Bella tries to help her and protect her own son Alfie, but eventually also falls foul of the Hiltons.

It is Richard and Vanessa Hilton’s daughter Alice who goes missing and is never found. On the night of their New Year’s Eve party, everyone is too distracted to realise Alice has gone out in the snow to look for her puppy, Snowy. But who was involved in her disappearance? Where was her brother Leo? Was Bobby James (Alfie’s son) involved as he was the last person to see her alive. Everyone seems to think so. And what about poor Nell, Bobby’s little sister, suffering from TB and sent away to a sanatorium.

In the present, Willow James (Bobby’s daughter) is the architect involved in the redevelopment of Yew Tree Manor, The Vicarage and the surrounding land. Ten houses will be built in their place along with a Community Centre, but what terrible secrets will she discover that involve both families across the generations.

The Midwife’s Secret is an epic tale, revealing some truths that many prefer to stay buried. You will need to read the whole book to find out what they are.

PS the only reason I have not given it 5 stars is because at times I would have liked just a tiny bit of light in the darkness.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Here is Emily’s own introduction:

“Hello everyone,

“Thank you for checking out my author page. Even writing this is a dream come true for me.

“I’ve wanted to be a published author since my mother, Penny Vincenzi, got her first book deal, when she and I would walk and talk about everything plots and stories together.

“Fast forward thirty years and I have discovered it is slightly more difficult than she made it look. But still, I got there eventually, because it is in my blood, and also, because I have always existed, slightly, in a world of my own, and reading and writing books allows me to make a living from that. I still remember my eleven-year-old self, a little at odds with the world, sitting on the cold parquet floor of St Lawrence Junior School utterly gripped as Mr Thomas read us all Boy by Roald Dahl.

“After graduating in Journalism in 1997 I began writing scripts and had two episodes of BBC Doctors commissioned, but I wasn’t keen on all the endless drafts and input from Script Editors and Producers. So, while I worked as a PA at the BBC and the Daily Mirror newspaper I learned as much as I could about storytelling until it all became fodder for my debut novel, The Girl in the Letter.

“I really hope you enjoy it, and my follow-up novel which I am busy researching as we speak. I live in Brighton, Sussex, with my husband Steve, an architect, and my two crazy, beautiful girls, Grace and Eleanor. We read a lot of Julia Donaldson and Roald Dahl, in between walking Merlin our whippet on the beach but when I’ve got a deadline I rely on their tablets rather a lot and feel incredibly guilty most of the time.

“If you’d like to get in touch, please do visit me on Twitter @EmilyGunnis and Instagram @emilygunnis.

“And if you’re really stuck for something to do, feel free to review my book. I would love to know what you think.

“Keep reading!

“Love Emily x”

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