Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (Review)

Kate Morton is a master storyteller. If you love gorgeous historical fiction and digging into a good story, The Secret Keeper is sure to please.

Book Details:

Book Title: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Category: Adult Fiction,  484 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII
Publisher: Atria
Release date: October 12, 2012
Content Rating: PG + M (Mature themes)

Book Description:

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s, and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder, and enduring love.

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Kate Morton is a master storyteller. Every character has its time, place, and setting in the novel with detailed descriptions that may seem at times excessive or superfluous but that come full circle by the end of the novel. And just when you think you knew all there was to know about the secret, there's a twist at the end you didn't see coming.

Sixteen-year-old Laurel witnesses a shocking scene one hot summer day. As a reader, that one scene makes us wonder why the character did what she did, and the whole story is based on Laurel trying to uncover the mystery, the reason for that one violent act. The story moves back and forth between the 60s, 30s, and present day. The author takes her time to build each scene, revolving mainly around two women, Dorothy (Laurel's mother) and Vivien, her friend from the past.

Although it's Laurel who is trying to uncover the mystery of her family's past, I did question why she never did so before. We don't really get the emotional understanding of what witnessing that act did to Laurel's psyche. She went on to become a successful actress as she had dreamed of doing, but besides that, we don't really get to know Laurel very well. For this reason, the timeline of the 30s was more interesting to me than that of the present-day. Sometimes I felt like the scenes with Laurel dragged a little.

But this is a minor criticism because reading this book was such a pleasure. Well-written with vivid characters and a secret that pulls the reader through the whole story, The Secret Keeper is one of those books to be savored as it comes to its stunning conclusion.

I read The House at Riverton which I thoroughly enjoyed and I have The Forgotten Garden on my bookshelf which I hope to read too. If you love gorgeous historical fiction and digging into a good story, The Secret Keeper is sure to please.

Disclosure: I received a Netgalley copy. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Buy The Book:

Alternate Book Covers:

This is the original one I remember when I first saw this title.

This is the UK cover.

Australian paperback edition

This is the Australian and New Zealand cover

This is a Kindle edition

Another Australian cover. This one seems a tad modern for the story.

About the Author:

Photo credit: Davin Patterson

Kate Morton is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, The Lake House, and The Clockmaker’s Daughter. Her books are published in 34 languages and have been #1 bestsellers worldwide. She is a native Australian, holds degrees in dramatic art and English literature. She lives with her family in London and Australia.

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