Review of Coming out Lesbian book ‘The Secret Chord’ by Virginia Hale
Kate York is trying to move on from her last relationship when she accepts a temporary teaching position at her former Catholic boarding school. A few months in, her old roommate returns to the school as a substitute teacher. Tilly Wattle was raised by her aunt and the rest of her convent nuns after her parents died. She planned on devoting her life to God as a nun, but after all this time, Kate realizes Tilley never took her vows and is now engaged to a vicar. Having to share the same cottage at the school, old feelings awaken and Kate and Tilly must navigate past and present filled with challenges in order to save their relationship.
This is a friends to lovers story, but what I really enjoyed was the coming out story. This was my first book by Ms. Hale and it will most certainly not be my last. What a wonderfully written, beautiful story about two friends that find each other again.
The story is narrated in third person from Kate’s point of view. While I admit this created intrigue surrounding Tilly’s character, I wish Tilly’s side was better explored since she is the one with the largest conflict. We all have our coming out story/journey, but I can only imagine how difficult it would be for someone like Tilly. Her entire life revolved around the Catholic religion, which we all know can be inflexible. The author did a great job of showing us the inner struggle Tilly goes through shy of providing scenes from her point of view.
I also enjoyed the setting tremendously. The boarding school is on an island in Australia and it made things almost magical. The back and forth in the ferry, the isolation and how it made the city seem like the only place to be yourself. Ms. Hale’s ability to describe the different settings such as the beach, ferry, cottage, and garden made me feel connected with the story. The secondary characters were also well done and there were several touching moments involving the girls that boarded at the school.
My only frustration was I felt the story’s pace was slow at the beginning of the book. Once Tilly started acknowledging feelings, things picked up for me. This brings me back to wishing there was some narration from Tilly’s point of view as I feel it would have been very interesting and the real conflict of the story.
Overall an original, well-written story for romance fans. 4.5 stars
ARC generously provided to me by BB via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.