Secrets of Nanreath Hall

This incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.

Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.

Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.

As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth…and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.

Favorite Quotes

"Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move:
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love."
- William Shakespeare

Featured on the art print

“What’s the occasion?” “Friendship.” He rose from the bench and held a gloved hand out to her. “And second chances.”

What was in the box?

This box shipped in December of 2016. Featuring a dual timeline with one during WWI and one during WWII, this provided OUABC with many impactful moments to bring to life in both storylines.

As Book Clubbers read this title, they opened their gifts to find a faux leather portfolio with a sketch of a mustached man, a letter and a locket, an envelope containing a photograph, an apron, and a watercolor painting on rolled canvas.

Fun Fact: This box also included a bonus gift of a reusable tote bag inspired by our pink box design!

Discussion Questions

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1. Both Anna and Hugh are affected by their wartime battle experiences. How does each of them cope with the trauma? In what ways are their strategies similar/different? Did you know anyone who served in WWII? How did the war affect them?

2. William followed the rules while Kitty followed her heart. Neither ended with what they wanted. Who made the better choice? Why?

3. Do you believe the Lady Boxley of Kitty's story acts out of love for Hugh or self-interest? What about the Lady Boxley of Anna's story? What are some examples in both cases that further your argument?

4. Which character did you most identify with? Which time period drew you in more deeply? What will you remember most about this story?

5. Secrets are at the heart of both stories, from Anna's white lie when she first meets Hugh to the heartbreaking betrayals that end up tainting the lives of two generations. Have you ever kept a secret? Have you ever had someone keep a secret from you? What happened with your secret was found out/you found out the secret of someone else? How did you deal/was it dealt with it?

Meet the Author

Alix Rickloff

Alix Rickloff lives in Maryland in a house that’s seen its own share of history so when she’s not writing, she can usually be found trying to keep it from falling down. She was featured in the Once Upon a Book Club Adult box in December of 2016.

Learn More About Alix