Book Review: The Pearl Locket by Kathleen McGurl

Title: The Pearl Locket
Author: Kathleen McGurl
Publisher: Carina UK
Publication Date: 27 February 2015

Twitter: @KathMcGurl 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


When Ali inherits her great-aunt’s house she immediately moves her whole family in, despite the warnings that there is something strange about the place.
Unfazed Ali begins redecorating, going through the rooms, making each one her own with the help of her daughter, Kelly. But when under the wallpaper in Kelly’s new room they discover a scrawled message from 1944 Ali begins to question the history of the house as she knows it.
Her family has always seemed so picture perfect, not a blemish or a secret to be found. Yet, this discovery throws her into confusion and Ali begins to question exactly what she knows about her family and the mysteries they have kept hidden…


Thank you to Carina UK and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of The Pearl Locket.

The Pearl Locket is a truly delightful time-slip novel. Joan lives in wartime Britain with her sisters and parents in a big house near the coast. She meets Jack and finds true love, however theirs is a romance destined not to run smoothly. Moving to 2014, Ali Bradshaw inherits that same house from her great-aunt Betty. As the family start to make themselves at home, Ali doesn’t initially pay much attention to her daughter Kelly’s sudden obsession with the 1940’s until the past starts to intrude into the present after Kelly finds the words “Joan loves Jack” written underneath some wallpaper in her bedroom. The house has been in the family for years and yet no one has ever mentioned Joan before. Who is she? When Ali and Pete discover a hidden door to a long-forgotten cellar, the contents may hold clues to this family mystery.
As the story flits between 2014 and 1944, the tale begins to unfold and we slowly start to learn what happened to Joan and Jack, and what bearing their story has on Kelly’s current obsession with that long-gone era.
The plot is well-developed and easy to follow, flowing seamlessly between the two eras and the numerous characters. As the tale unfolds, with numerous twists and turns along the way, we learn about the parallels between Joan and Kelly’s lives and we gain an understanding of what Joan’s life was like those many years ago in comparison to Kelly’s life in current day.
McGurl’s writing sends you straight into 1944, evoking the feelings of fear, turbulence and uncertainty of wartime Britain. It was certainly a simpler time, but with so many more social constraints and rules that, whilst nowadays seem trivial, the outcome of Joan’s story would have likely been very different had it taken place some 70 years later.
The characters are very well created and really bring the story to life. McGurl has a gift for characterisation. The main protagonists to the story are Joan, Ali and Kelly, all of whom are strong, independent and likeable woman. They are written in a realistic and sympathetic manner which allows the reader to become emotionally involved in the outcome of the story. The supporting characters include Jack, husband Pete, son Ryan, Grandmother Margaret, neighbour Jason Bergmann, all of whom are convincing characters and all of whom add to the story in their own way.
The Pearl Locket is a poignant, passionate and heartfelt story that will hook you from the first chapter. It is a story of friendship, romance, mystery, history, and, ultimately, a tragic story of family secrets, regrets, betrayal and shame, all tempered with a dash of hope. An elegant, gripping and hugely enjoyable story that will not disappoint!
I have not previously read any of McGurl’s earlier works, being a fairly new fan of historical fiction, however I will certainly be picking up copies now. I have heard great things about The Emerald Comb and, after reading The Pearl Locket, it is now high up on my wish list.
About the Author

Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband and sons. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with Carina UK and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. She works full time in the IT industry and when she’s not writing, she’s often out running, slowly. 
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