From the "New York Times "and internationally bestselling author of "The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, "and "The House at Riverton, "a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love. Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-11-12
- Reviewer: Staff
In her enjoyable latest novel, Morton returns with her signature brand of storytelling, following The Distant Hours. When 16-year-old, Laurel Nicholson witnesses her mother commit a shocking crime after a man Laurel doesn't know comes to the house. Over time, Laurel alters the memory. Years later, Laurel, now a famous actress, returns to her childhood home as her mother, Dorothy, lies dying. When a photograph of their mother as a young woman with an air unfamiliar to her daughtersâis uncovered, Laurel is put on a path to uncover her mother's secrets. In WWII Dorothy and her lover, Jimmy Metcalfe, devised a plan to punish Vivien Jenkins, a woman Dorothy imagined had slighted her. Vivien too had secrets that had life-altering consequences for the three. Though Morton does follow the same basic framework of her previous novels, she is still masterful at controlling a story's flow and tension. Readers will not suspect the twist at the end. Agent: Selwa Anthony, Selwa Anthony Author Management Agency, Australia. (Oct.)BookPage Reviews
A life transformed by murder
At only 16 years old, Laurel Nicolson sees a person she has known as loving and gentle commit murder in cold blood. The authorities claim the murder was an act of self-defense, but Laurel knows better. She will spend the next 50 years of her life keeping the secret and wondering why it happened in the first place. But the need to know the truth becomes urgent: Soon after the book opens, we learn that the murderer is now dying after a very long and mostly happy life.
The Secret Keeper alternates between the present day, where Laurel, now an Academy Award-winning actress, is trying to beat the clock, and the time of the London Blitz, those days in 1940 and 1941 when London and other British cities were under continuous nighttime bombing by Hitler’s Luftwaffe. In the midst of this horror we’re introduced to two young women—Dorothy and Vivien—and their men. Dorothy, then called Dolly, is a dreamy girl whose family was wiped out in the notorious Coventry bombing. She is engaged to Jimmy Metcalfe, a war photographer. Vivien, whose own family tragedy happened years before, is an Australian émigré married to a wealthy, much older, monstrously cruel writer. Their losses have driven both girls a little mad. Dolly has delusions that the cranky old dowager she works for will leave her a fortune, though we understand that the dowager only thinks of her as a servant. Vivien, who blames herself for the loss of her family, believes she deserves the punishment her husband, and the world, metes out. Though the women barely know each other, Dolly’s delusions quickly come to envelop Vivien as well.
Best-selling author Kate Morton takes her time unraveling this story, which begins with one secret, then leads to another the reader really wasn’t expecting. In addition to the plot’s clever twists and turns, the characterizations are also pleasing. There’s not only the tragic Dolly and Vivien, but the dogged and somewhat queenly Laurel, her sisters and their absent-minded professor of a younger brother. A long book that passes quickly, The Secret Keeper is a study of war and other tragedies, what they can do to people, and how their repercussions can carry on for decades.