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Deirdre Purcell's eleventh novel tells another tale of an idealistic and strong-willed woman whose free spiritedness is tested by strict parents and an almost Dickensian home life. Like 'Falling for a Dancer's Elizabeth and Molly in 'A Place of Stones', Violet Shine knows what she wants and isn't afraid to try to get it. Unfortunately, though, Violet's tale is so far-fetched it is farcical.
Falling in love in the 1940s at the tender age of 16, Violet is determined to live happily ever after with her lover, a young man from the nearby town. When her parents discover the affair, Violet is locked into a tower room at the family's home, Whitecliff. Sixty years later, Claudine Armstrong is involved in the sale of the now derelict Whitecliff and when she discovers Violet's story, she learns a lot more than she ever expected about herself.
While Violet's fiery determination is engaging and her love affair tragic, Purcell has done all of this much better in previous novels. Her first, 'A Place of Stones', was far more gripping. It too was far-fetched, but the characters grounded it and gave it depth. Here, Violet's passionate nature isn't sustained and Claudine's presence comes across as largely unnecessary.
For all its gothic resonance, 'Tell Me Your Secret' can't hold a candle to the likes of 'Jane Eyre', or some of Purcell's earlier work for that matter.