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The Secret Keeper: A Novel Paperback – July 16, 2013
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Australian Morton’s (The Distant Hours, 2010) latest will appeal to fans of Daphne du Maurier, Susanna Kearsley, and Audrey Niffenegger with its immensely relatable characters, passion, mystery, and twist ending. Laurel Nicholson is a teenager when she witnesses a shocking crime: her gentle, kind mother, Dorothy, kills a man. It becomes a family secret that Laurel never divulges or tries to fathom until five decades later, when Dorothy is on her deathbed, and Laurel finds a photograph of her mother with an old friend, snapped back in 1941, when Dorothy was barely out of her teens. As Laurel begins to dig, her burning questions become, Who was Vivien Jenkins, and why was she once so important to Dorothy? With the narrative shifting between Laurel, Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy, a man who also profoundly affected Dorothy’s life long ago, both reader and Laurel breathlessly hurtle into an astounding family secret that unfolds slowly and temptingly. Despite some loose threads and rather too leisurely pacing, this is likely to keep readers reading into the wee hours. --Julie Trevelyan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“As always, Morton weaves an intriguing mystery, shifting between past and present and among fully realized characters harboring deep secrets.”—People Magazine **** (The Secret Keeper) (People)
"Morton has obvious star power. . . . Her novels are Australia’s most successful exports since Colleen McCullough’s “Thorn Birds” stormed the world in 1977.” —The New York Times Book Review (The Secret Keeper) (The New York Times Book Review)
“Morton is masterful at controlling a story’s flow and tension. Readers will not suspect the twist at the end.” -- Publisher's Weekly (The Secret Keeper) (Publisher's Weekly)
“A gripping tale of love and betrayal.”—Good Housekeeping (The Secret Keeper) (Good Housekeeping)
Top customer reviews
Morton’s novel shifts around in time, as narratives jump from the era of the World War 2 blitz in London and time before, moving forward to the present. Sections are devoted to focusing on several of the key character’s stories. In this way, The Secret Keeper uses a sort of fragmented way of eventually putting all pieces of past and present together, snapshots of key events in character’s lives are put into focus. The setting and time is captured so effectively—especially the descriptions of the World War 2 blitz—that it enhances the mood and vibe of various scenes.
Morton also explores several themes eloquently: love, family, understanding one’s past, the dangers of keeping secrets. A disconnect often exists between characters’ romantic visions of life and the actual lives they lead. Part of the lesson, though, is that some hopeful and idyllic visions of life aren’t necessarily practical or genuine, or ones that would lead to ultimate happiness. There are many life lessons that Laurel understands along the way.
While the book pulled me in during the last half, it felt like the first half dragged. Some scenes were a bit over the top with romance clichés—overdone romantic dialogue and scenes. I also thought some of it could have been trimmed down, too much superfluous detail. However, once Laurel starts putting the pieces of the past together, things really get moving.
Over all, I enjoyed The Secret Keeper and look forward to reading another one from Kate Morton.
The Secret Keeper explores just this topic. An older woman, Laurel, has had much of her life shaped by events she saw as a teenager that she didn't understand. She's certainly lived a full life and achieved her dreams, yet she's never been able to unravel the mystery of her childhood and what she saw her mother do, and thus a piece of her feels unresolved. As her mother lies on her deathbed, Laurel finally confronts her past and sets out to solve the mystery.
The mystery is a great one - one that will keep you furiously turning the pages once the story has found its rhythm. It will also surprise you. The story drags for the first 50% or so, but the writing was so beautiful I didn't mind too much.
This book is terribly romantic, but not in the traditional way. It's lost love, selfless love, but told in a way that lifts you up rather than letting you down. It's also a bit nostalgic - the descriptions of childhood memories, family homes & siblings had me longing for the comforts of youth and home.
For those that enjoy family secrets, mystery, historical fiction, dual time narratives and a dash of romance, The Secret Keeper certainly fits the bill.
The richness of her descriptive text is unsurpassed. The main character, Dorothy, is a complex character, and yet I could easily understand why she acted as she did...even the self absorption, the seeming lack of real appreciation for the honest, loyal Jimmy and her justification for revenge.
If I have one tiny criticism, it's that there were times I felt some scenes were very drawn out...amazingly beautifully written, but pages too long. But that's only a minor thing, because Kate's gift for creating a setting that is vivid and colourful and fitting for the era, is nothing short of spectacular. Thank you Kate.