Villa of Secrets

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Villa of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

This book has a Reading Room Rating of stars (4.2 stars)

I really enjoyed reading this book and just couldn't put it down. Pandora was so brave during the war. The history of Rhodes was very knowledgeable. It is so true when family have disagreement the split is so long but the love of grandma was so strong it did bring them back together. Was sad episodes of Jews being mistreated. I will be reading this author’s other book. I give it 4 stars.
Chand, Reading Room member


I am so glad I was one of the winners of this book! I would never have chosen this subject matter, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also learned a great deal about the effects of the war in the Mediterranean - I have to confess to extreme ignorance of this. There must have been many Pandora Cohens, who fought for freedom in secret. It also highlights the strength of love across different generations. A 4 star book, which I recommend.
Jill, Reading Room Member

What did you especially like about this book? Is there a particularly memorable piece of writing or scene in the book? I like the linking of actual historical events with a story. Pandora's diary was so evocative of what people must have gone through & prejudice that exists. Does the book have any key messages? Killing is not easy even in what appears to be a just cause. How the worst & best can be brought out in people Who is your favourite character and why? What do you feel the author could approve upon in this book? Pandora is so central to the whole book & her spirit shines through. Would have loved a totally happy ending i.e Giovanni & Pandora living happily ever after but author resisted this. 4 stars.
Pauline, Reading Room Member

I did not read the blurb before starting this book so only got an impression from the cover. I had left this book till near the end of the month but once I started I got really drawn into the story and couldn’t stop reading. I found the subject intriguing as I did not know too much about the history of Rhodes in the war and the countries people. I enjoyed the way the book alternated between present and the past and I, like Naomi, found myself desperate to find out more about Doras life from the diary. I found the book obviously heart wrenching in places but the emotions I felt kept me reading and wanting to find out what happened to Dora and Giovanni and I found the outcome in the end of that particular love story really sweet. I enjoyed the fact that the story was set in Rhodes so that I could take myself into the landscape and towns and it made a change for most books I read being set in the Uk or USA. One part I found unnecessary was the issue with Costa’s ship near the end. With everything that had gone on in the novel I found this part a bit trivial and unnecessary as there did not need to be any more tragedies. I felt this book was really engaging and I would give it 5 stars for a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Vicky, Reading Room Member

On seeing the cover of this book I didn’t feel it was going to be my sort of book. I am drawn to psychological thrillers so last month’s book “The Fear” was much more up my street ( I rate that 4 stars). However, I did find the subject matter of this book interesting and the experience of Jews in Rhodes in WW2 was something I knew nothing about. Dora’s wartime experiences and the modern day storylines held my interest but I feel some of the writing lacked sophistication and some of the storylines were skirted over and not fully developed. I also feel there were some implausibilities in the storyline, particularly around the fate of Giovanni. I would give this book 3 stars as I did enjoy it on the whole but wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend it.
Carolyn, Reading Room Member

I have just finished reading this book. It has much more content and depth than one might first imagine from the bland cover. At first I felt Patricia Wilson was very trying to emulate Victoria Hislop - both the Greek setting and historical style. I was doubtful whether she had achieved the same graceful and intriguing storyline as Hislop manages in such novels as The Island. Certainly Carolyn Atkinson is right in saying there is a clumsiness of writing at times - the frantic writing of the diary while in the immediate aftermath of L’Aeronautica and the rounding up of Dora’s close relatives, the writing down of important secrets when the rebels had sworn her to secrecy on pain of death are two examples which I was not convinced about. Anyone could have read the diary and found out those secrets and then had their life in danger. However, the diary was certainly a good way of explaining events and linking the past and present Rhodes and all the characters

There is a lot of detail provided throughout the story about the situation on this beautiful island during the Second World War. I learnt a great deal, and for this alone I would recommend The Villa of Secrets to others. However, I think the author could make improvements and cut out the semi -happy ever after ending of papas being Giovanni in disguise. How would Bubba not know that?
Jackie, Reading Room Member