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The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel Paperback – May 28, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (May 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062240307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062240309
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“[G]rand in scope, rich with musicality…” (Kirkus)

From the Back Cover

A priceless violin. A family torn apart.
A decision that could change everything.

Berlin, 1939. Fourteen-year-old Simon Horowitz is awash in a world of music. His family owns a superb collection of instruments and at its heart is his father's 1742 Guarneri del Gesú violin. But all is lost when the Nazis march across Europe, the Horowitz family's possessions are confiscated, and Simon and his father and brother are sent to Dachau. Amid unimaginable cruelty and death, Simon finds kindness from an unexpected corner, and a chance to pick up a violin in exchange for a chance to live.

In the present day, orchestra conductor Rafael Gomez has seen much in his time on the world's stage, but he finds himself oddly inspired by the playing of an aspiring violin virtuoso, a fantastic talent who is just fourteen. When the boy, Daniel Horowitz, Simon's grandson, suddenly rebels and refuses toplay another note, Rafael decides he'll do anything he can to change that. After Rafael learns the boy's family once owned a precious violin, believed to have been lost forever, he thinks he might know how to get Daniel playing again. In taking on the task he discovers a family story like no other, one that winds from World War II and Communist Russia all the way to Rafael's very own stage.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 105 customer reviews
It is a very touching, heartwarming story very well done.
SA Bryan
There is a great deal of interesting historical and musical information which has been very well researched and that mixed with the story makes for a wonderful read.
As a history aficionado, I really enjoyed the historical detail and the storyline, and I read the entire book in two days.
E. Volenec

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tui Allen on June 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The thought of the research necessary to write a novel like this is quite mind-blowing. Research of the details of the German and Russian eras covered, the musical background, the violin itself and its history, the details about conditions in Dachau. The author needs congratulating for all that alone. Yet on top of that she created a gripping tale that kept me up late reading into the small hours of the night for two nights in a row and the research never once intruded to slow down the telling of the tale, yet you had rock-solid confidence that this author had got it right.
I've read many accounts of the sufferings of Jews in the second world war, yet somehow had never read an account of the terrors of Krystallnacht from the point of view of a Jew until I read this book. It was enlightening.
I'm New Zealander, like this author and like her, had parents who had fought in WW2, and I find it cool that one of my nationality can write of these events so far from our home with the conviction that comes from having had family history that was a part of this world history. It feels right to me that Julie Thomas has written this story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Doc Occula VINE VOICE on June 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...the author hadn't been so hung up on writing a mystery.

'The Keeper of Secrets' isn't that. It's a terrific story about a violin surviving World War II and the Cold War by the skin of her teeth, sandwiched between a stultifyingly boring contemporary storyline about a bunch of rich people trying to figure out, 'The Red Violin'-style, what happened to the violin. I began the story having to wade through the contemporary section, hoping things would get better, continually putting the book down for weeks because I frankly couldn't care less about concert management and scheduling and, unfortunately, the main characters of the book, a lifeless teenaged boy and a privileged principal conductor. However, the moment the book flashed back to 1935, it kept me up at night, chewing my fingernails at the urgency which suddenly infused the story. This is what Thomas should have left alone and not bothered with the 'mystery' about what happened to the valuable Guarnerius in the twenty-first century. In fact, as a mystery, it would have been even more compelling NOT to know, thanks to the vagarities of war and the caprices of the horrible people perpetrating it. The terrible descriptions of the camps populated by fascinating people and the secretive Soviet Union during Reconstruction were what was actually worth reading; extremely compelling and beautifully crafted. Then, when the book flashed back forward and wound its way up to a pat, somewhat ludicrous conclusion, I hurried through just to finish it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Julie Thomas's novel, "The Keeper of Secrets", is a well-written novel about how a priceless violin has been lost and found again, affecting three generations of families in Germany, Russian, and the United States. Daniel Horowitz is the great-grandson of the original owner of the 1742 Guarneri del Gesu violin. The violin had actually been in the Horowitz family for generations, as has the talent to play the instrument. But in the late 1930's the Berlin Horowitz family was sent to Dachau and Auschwitz and the violin disappeared forever.

Flash forward 60 years, and to the United States, to young Daniel, who is the culmination of the Horowitz family's violin-playing genius. At 14, he's well on his way to a superb career, however, his interest in playing the violin is equaled by his passion to play baseball. But his parents and teachers don't want him to chance damaging his hands by playing the game he loves and he swears he will stop playing the violin if he's not allowed to play ball. Step up a Spanish conductor who has taken an interest in Daniel and his talent. He decides to track down the lost violin to inspire Daniel to continue playing.

Thomas has written a lovely story about a family - actually a couple of families - and how the violin has brought them all together. It's not great literature, but it is a very solid read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Suncoast TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"The Keeper of Secrets" by New Zealand author Julie Thomas is a remarkable book and has already gone into my best reads for 2013. It is compassionate, historical, essentially musical and at times extremely emotional. It is a story of a German Jew (a Holocaust survivor), a Spanish Catholic (Maestro Conductor), a music loving Russian billionaire, and a very special violin made in the early 1700's by Guarneri del Gesù.

We all know about Stradavarius violins, but some of the world's most famous violinists, such as Paganini, Heifetz, and Menuhin, preferred Guarneris to Stradivaris because of stronger fundamentals of the lowest notes and a darker sound than a Stradivarius.

Before WWII Simon Horowitz lived in Berlin with his wealthy Jewish family and had played the violin since he was four years old. His family owned many priceless things, but the most precious and valuable was a Guarneri del Gesù violin. When Daniel and his family were sent to Dachau, the Nazis added the violin to their museum of stolen artefacts.

Simon was the only member of the family who survived Dachau. Many years later his grandson, Daniel, shows extreme talent as a violinist and at the tender age of 14 wins an international competition run by Maestro Rafael Gomez. Daniel is just as dedicated to baseball as music and when his family tries to make him stop playing baseball because he may damage his hands Daniel decides to give up music. To persuade Daniel to keep playing, Maestro Gomez delves into the past of Daniel's family and that of his benefactor, music loving Russian billionaire Sergei Valentino, and discovers amazing tales of horror, survival, deception and love.
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