At almost 700 pages The Guardian of Secrets is a weighty book, but it is never difficult to read or in any way slow or boring. I took my time over it, picking up in between other books. I was always happy to return to the Spanish Civil War and the trials and tribulations of the Martinez family. It was an absolute joy to read.
The story actually covers almost a Century, but most of the focus in the book is of the time leading up to and during the bloody Spanish Civil War. The Martinez family is Spanish aristocracy and landowners and quite naturally expected to support and fight for the "old guard" led by the fascists and General Franco. Ernesto, the Patriarch is less inclined to see the rightest views and believes Spain must change to embrace the changes sweeping Europe.
Petken's wonderful story takes us from Merill Farm in England to La Glorietta in Valencia, Spain as we watch Cecilia and Ernesto bring up their children and suffer the anguish of loss and pain that the war brought to Spain during the late 1930's and for many years following the Fascist victory.
As a treatise against the folly of war, especially Civil War, one comes away from this book with a much greater understanding of how entrenched political ideals can lead to everyday citizens becoming just cannon fodder for the Generals. This book is ultimately about love, but it allows us to explore the most basest of human emotions and desires.
Petken is a true master of the historical romance and is now at the top of my favorite author list. She has combined careful research and deep personal knowledge of the setting of the book to create a wonderful tale that can sweep us away from our everyday, humdrum lives. Jan Petken is one of the true stars of the Indie writing scene. I have no doubt I will be devouring many more of her offerings in the future. This book is worth more than five stars, but I am constrained by the limits, so award her five stars plus for this wonderful story.
Check out all of Petken's work here: http://amzn.to/1R5g3UI