Book Reviews / Books

Review: The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

12.12.12

While much of November was spent in a haze of late nights, early mornings and repetitive strain injury as a result of my constant writing, I did thankfully manage to squeeze in some bookish time to read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.

I’ve read and enjoyed her three previous novels; The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours and so, much like when I work my way through other authors’ bodies of work, I had high hopes for Kate Morton’s latest tome.

Much like her previous books, The Secret Keeper spans a triple time frame that is cleverly interwoven as the plot progresses. The story opens on a summer’s day in Suffolk in 1961 when sixteen year old Laurel witnesses the murder of a man at the hands of her mother, Dorothy, unbeknown to the rest of her family. The police arrive and the matter is dealt with, but it is many decades before Laurel uncovers her mother’s hidden past and the real reason a man was murdered.

The Secret Keeper is also set in 1930s London, when a young Dorothy has left her family behind to work in London as a lady’s companion. It is there that she meets and falls in love with Jimmy, and she makes the acquaintance of the rich and glamorous Vivien, wife of famous novelist Henry Jenkins. Now in her sixties, Laurel is trying to piece together the events that led to the horrific crime she witnessed as an innocent teenager.

The Secret Keeper is a beautifully written book that explores secrets, guilt and the fine line between dreams and reality. The perfect book for a dismal afternoon read, Kate Morton has further cemented her status as a truly wonderful teller of stories.

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About The Secret Keeper

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.

About Kate Morton

Kate Morton was born in South Australia, grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and now lives with her family in London and Australia. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she realised that it was words she loved more than performing. Kate still feels a pang of longing each time she goes to the theatre and the house lights dim.

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“I fell deeply in love with books as a child and believe that reading is freedom; that to read is to live a thousand lives in one; that fiction is a magical conversation between two people – you and me – in which our minds meet across time and space. I love books that conjure a world around me, bringing their characters and settings to life, so that the real world disappears and all that matters, from beginning to end, is turning one more page.”

Kate Morton’s five novels – The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House – have all been New York Times bestsellers, Sunday Times bestsellers and international number 1 bestsellers; they are published in 34 languages, across 42 countries.

Kate’s sixth novel, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, will be published in September/October 2018.

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