Book Review: The Secret Keeper

Posted: October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I have just finished reading “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“The new novel from the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours is a spellbinding mix of mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy. 

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover 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, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world”

Laurel discovers that her mother had a life before she met Laurel’s father and had four daughters and a son, a life in which she made many mistakes and which still haunt her. Laurel’s mother is very old and a shadow of her former self now she is dying, but Laurel feels the need to get to the bottom of the mystery of why Dorothy stabs the man who came to visit her.

What Laurel didn’t realise is just how different her mother’s life was before she settled down in  the countryside and why she is so glad she had a second chance at life.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks and accounts by various characters, which gives the reader a variety of viewpoints and fills in the gaps that Laurel is trying to fill. Dorothy tells us why she ran away from home and left her family behind so she could look for fame and fortune in London. The war changes her view of the world, especially when she loses people she loves because of it. She works un-glamorous jobs to look after herself and keeps putting off marriage to her boyfriend Jimmy, who followed her to London to be with her. She has so many big dreams of what she wants to become and she struggles to make them happen. She is a bit selfish, stringing Jimmy along a lot and doesn’t always treat him like he deserves, even though she does care for him, but Jimmy manages to look past it, knowing that she doesn’t have much else in the world. Jimmy is a lovely man, who has cared for his muddled elderly father since his mother left them, and he is used by Dolly as a pawn in her games and he tries to keep her head in reality.

Dorothy tries to make friends with a rich married woman called Vivien, who is herself a bit of mystery. Her character is fascinating to Dolly (as Dorothy preferred to be called in her old life) and Dolly creates a cunning plan to become friends with Vivien. However, things go wrong and Dolly ends up with nothing but regrets. It is mysterious how Dolly finds herself in a mess and then suddenly has this perfect life with her large family. She tries to make her family life as good as it can be and is shocked when the man turns up from her past and tries to threaten it. As Laurel finds out later, things do work out alright in the end but so many little pieces of the mystery have to be uncovered before Laurel discovers what really happened.

Laurel doesn’t tell her sisters about what she discovers but she enlists the help of her baby brother who was there on the day their mother was visited by the strange man. He knows that something bad happened that day and when Laurel finally tells him what she saw, he starts doing research into their mother’s history too. Together they track down records, books, and living people who all offer information about their mother’s story.

I don’t want to spoil this book for anybody, so you’ll have to read it yourself to find out the real mystery, which i honestly didn’t see coming! This book is cleverly written and really gripping once you get to the juicy bits!

I give it 8/10 because it is truly a great read and keeps you guessing all the way through! Things that seem simple enough on top aren’t necessarily the same once you look under the surface and a lot of ghosts get disturbed in this novel but it is really fascinating stuff!

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