Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton


From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton, a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

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. 

Atria Books | October 2012

My Review

4.5 Stars

Kate Morton's latest novel, The Secret Keeper, is a richly imagined tale of love. lies and long-buried secrets.   After bearing witness to a horrific crime involving her mother, Laurel Nicolson's view of her beloved parent was forever changed.   Now, many years later, gathering together with her sisters and brother to celebrate what will likely be their dying mother's final birthday, Laurel decides it's time to delve deeper into Dorothy Nicolson's past in an effort to uncover the truth behind her mother's actions on that day.

Morton's narrative unfolds in a deliberately measured manner, taking the reader on a journey back in time to pre-World War II England, through to the Blitz and the early 1960s, revealing in bits and pieces Dorothy's early life and the decisions and events that shaped the woman she was to become.   Through her always eloquent prose, Morton is able to effectively convey the hopes, fears and overall emotions of each of her characters, successfully drawing the reader completely into their stories.  She is also able to evoke a strong sense of time and at no point is this more evident than when the narrative is set during the Blitz.   Much like she has done in her other novels, Kate Morton has once again created a memorable cast of characters that readers can empathize with and become invested in.  

Although I found the opening of this novel to be somewhat slow, once the narrative starts to focus on Dorothy's life I found The Secret Keeper difficult to put down.  Although this book does not feature the Gothic elements that are a hallmark of Morton's previous releases, I nevertheless found this story to be every bit as captivating.  

The Secret Keeper is a must read for every Kate Morton fan.  

Note: The novel comes from my own personal collection.