Monday, November 26, 2012

Julie's Review: The Secret Keeper

Summary: 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. ~amazon.com

Review: The Secret Keeper is Kate Morton's 4th novel and while it is not my favorite, it is still a worthy read. What Ms. Morton always excels at is keeping you guessing until the very end. This time though I did figure it out a little bit but not until the near end.

We are introduced to the story through the eye of 16 year old Laurel, who becomes the narrator for most of the novel. As Laurel returns home to her family farm, she is flooded and then haunted about her memories from that day when she was trying to escape from her boisterous family for a few minutes. She wants to know what it is that would cause he mom to act in such a rash and threatened manner. The answer of course can only be answered by her mom, Dorothy. Unfortunately, Dorothy is in the late stages of her life and clarity comes and goes. Laurel wants to get the bottom of the mystery that has plagued her during her adult years.

As Laurel researches her mother's past by little things that she has gleamed from her mother, the narration shifts between Dolly, Vivian and Dorothy. It is through their eyes that we learn how the short period of time during the London Blitz shaped their futures.

As always, Ms. Morton's characters we well-written and flushed out. She always chooses her time period with care. I can only imagine the energy and emotions that were heightened during that time period and because of that the actions that took place that couldn't be changed.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I never connected with any of the characters. I felt for Laurel and her plight to find out her mother's dark secret. Is it a secret that should have gone to her mother's grave with her? Perhaps but maybe now Laurel and Gerry can have peace. I felt that Dolly and Vivien were self-involved. Maybe during that time it was self-preservation but for me Dolly was the least likable character.

I liked how Laurel, Dorothy and her maternal grandmother all seemed to have the same dramatic gene within them. Dolly definitely took the dramatic flair to a whole new level. The man caught in the middle was Jimmy Metcalfe, who was desperately in love with Dorothy but who also found himself enjoying the company of Vivien.

Ms. Morton always thoroughly researches her books and it always feel like you are in the middle of the action no matter the time period. While The Distant Hours is by far my favorite book by Ms. Morton, The Secret Keeper is not one to be missed. I will continue to read Kate Morton's books as long as she keeps writing them.

Final Take: 4.5/5

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