The Tree of Lost Secrets
Helen Ainsley is a best-selling mystery writer struggling with cancer. She begins to doubt her storytelling ability, so to restore her confidence, she returns to her childhood home in rural Brattleboro Vermont for the serenity she hopes will rekindle her imagination.
Ainsley Hill Farm was originally an Inn dating back to the American Revolution. With a new-found friend, an old golden retriever, and an ancient sugar maple, Helen’s life is about to change.
Initials carved on the tree trunk suddenly appear. . . then disappear. Helen is impelled to investigate. She realizes that the majestic tree is a portal into past injustices and it is up to her to bring closure to the lost memories of the dead.
From World War Two, Italy, and the anti-Nazi partisan movement, she moves back in time to events during World War One, in Nova Scotia, Canada, and the Halifax explosion, which obliterated the city in an instant and took thousands of lives. Next, Helen learns that Brattleboro was a stop on the Underground Railroad and runaway slaves used the Inn as a sanctuary on their journey north. Finally, she returns to the Inn’s early days during the Revolution, where she discovers that her ancestors played a significant and dangerous role in the survival of the thirteen colonies.
Through her venerable maple tree, Helen finds her own storytelling artistry re-emerge as she sets out to immortalize the heartbreaking past of the Ainsley Hill Inn.
“Talented author Lynne Kennedy once again delivers excellence in a thoughtful, historically accurate and intelligent tale about a woman determined to triumph over cancer and reclaim her career as a successful writer. Helen Ainsley’s quest entangles her in the complex history of her own Vermont heritage at the Ainsley Hill Farm Inn, prompts her to explore the roles of her ancestors during the American Revolution, and inspires her search for the truth about the Inn’s connection to runaway slaves during the Civil War and a World War II era murder victim. The Tree of Lost Secrets is a satisfying and entertaining read. Highly recommend. 5 stars!”
—Laura Taylor – 6-Time Romantic Times Award Winner
“Lynne Kennedy’s The Tree of Lost Secrets is a fascinating historical novel inspired by actual people, places, and events. In 2018, Helen Ainsley is a bestselling mystery writer who returns to her homestead, Ainsley Hill Farm, in Brattleboro, Vermont, to revitalize her writing. The farm was originally The Ainsley Hill Inn and Tavern, built in 1766. An ancient magical maple tree still stands in front of the Inn. For 250 years or so, people had carved their initials into the tree. Urged on by her golden retriever Honey, Helen is drawn irresistibly into their backstories. The first story takes place in 1944 during WWII, a tragic tale of a family at the Inn. The second story is about a young woman at the Inn, set in WWI, and the 1917 catastrophic explosion in Halifax Harbor in Nova Scotia. The third story is set in 1856 when the Inn was part of the underground railroad and a haven for runaway slaves. The fourth story is set in 1776, during the American Revolution, and is about David Ainsley, the builder of the Inn.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lynne Kennedy’s The Tree of Lost Secrets for its remarkable principal character Helen Ainsley and her curiosity, courage, and resilience in finding her path again to writing mystery stories. I loved the unfolding of the stories and the richly imagined characters that flow from the carved initials on the enchanted maple tree. I liked the interweaving of fantasy and magic into the novel. The mysterious appearance and disappearance of the carved initials added great depth to the story, tracking Helen’s persistence and disappointments. Helen’s gifted golden retriever Honey is a wonderful character, ever eager to unearth new details. I enjoyed the time travel approach and particularly liked the vivid and evocative details of characters, settings, dialogues, and events. The most poignant story, and one of incredible fortitude, was when the Inn was part of the underground railroad. The most gripping story was about the American Revolution and David Ainsley, Helen’s great-great-grandfather. The Tree of Lost Secrets is a captivating historical novel with spell-binding mysteries.”
5 Stars Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers’ Favorite