Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
October 26, 2012 32 Comments
The Secret Keeper: What it is about
From the publishers: “During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.
Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.
Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.”
The Secret Keeper: What I thought
The story starts strong with 16 year-old Laurel seeing a crime being committed by her mother. After that, there is a slightly confusing scene in the second world war of Laurel’s mother, Dorothy, and a friend, Vivian during a bombing in London. The scene is confusing, because the reader doesn’t have all the information yet. It wasn’t off-putting though and reading the scene back after finishing the book, everything fell into place.
I didn’t find the story completely convincing. Laurel’s mother was old and frail, but rather than going through great lengths to find out what her mother’s secret was, Laurel could have tried a bit harder at asking her mother.
I wasn’t sure about the order in which the story was told. That is, generally we first read a bit about the past and then about Laurel trying to find out what happened at that time. Because of that, I didn’t find the story too compelling, because the reader already knew what Laurel didn’t. There are a few “cliffhangers”. While this felt rather contrived, it did work to make me interested in the next part of the story!
While I could take or leave most of the book, I was really grabbed by the last quarter of the book. By then, there really was a mystery to be solved and I was actively thinking along. And close to the end, there is a shocking revelation, that changed my whole idea about the story (which is why I read some of the beginning again) and finally made me decide this was a good novel after all.
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Number of pages: 496
First published: 2012 (Atria Books)
I got this book: for review from the publishers via Netgalley (ebook)
Genre: contemporary fiction, historical fiction
Have you read this book?
Did you enjoy it?