I just finished Helenas Geheimnis by Irish author Lucinda Riley. In English the book was published as either Helena’s Secret or The Olive Tree. The paperback version of The Olive Tree is out at the end of July. Lucinda Riley happens to be my favourite author at the moment. I have read nearly all of her book. Only two missing and I have them at home. So far I have not read anything bad from her. Her writing style is usually the same. There are two stories that have something to do with each other. One is happening in the present, the other in a particular moment in history, the Second World War for example.
That’s where Helena’s Secret differs from all the other books I have read so far. The present storyline set in 2016 around the young Alex is only a few chapters long. The main event happens in 2006. The 2006 storyline is told in two different ways. One of them is the diary entries of a 13-year old Alex who is on vacation on Cyprus with his mother Helena, his two younger siblings, his step dad, his step sister, his mum’s best friend and his step dad’s best friend and his family. The diary entries are fun at time as Alex though very intelligent is still a kid and very naive sometimes. The rest of the story is told mostly from Helena’s point of view.
As the title suggests it’s all about Helena’s secrets. For Alex the most important is who his father really is. I won’t spoil it here just know that I really was surprised by this. I am usually quite good at guessing things like this. I knew for example who Angus, Helena’s godfather’s secret love was and who Alex would have fallen in love with by the end of the book. Alex’ father however really was a shock for me.
One thing I absolutely loved about the book where the two chapters spent in Vienna. As you probably know, I am Austrian myself and have lived in Vienna for two years. So reading about this all too familiar places was amazing. Lucinda writes these foreign places with such detail that you always get the feeling she was there and experienced the places herself. I admire that about her. That way as a reader you always get a good picture of the character’s surroundings. I have the same feeling about Cyprus even though I have never been. Safe to say that because of the book I now have to visit as soon as possible.
Another thing that felt different while reading Helena’s Secret was that it dealt more with motherhood, family and family structures than any book before. Lucinda Riley even talks about this in her acknowledgements. She began writing the book ten years before publishing it while on vacation in Cyprus with her own family. That is probably the reason why it feels so different from all her other books.
The more I think about it since finishing, the more I actually love the book. So I would definitively recommend you reading the book. If you have never read any of Lucinda’s books before I would actually recommend starting with one of the other books of hers. I started with Der Lavendelgarten (The Light Behind the Window) and fell in love with Lucinda Riley, her storytelling and her stories at once.
Have you read Helena’s Secret? Or any other book by Lucinda Riley? Let me know what you think about this book and Lucinda in general. I would love to hear your opinion.