Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'The Secret Keeper'

After I first read Kate Morton's first novel, 'The House at Riverton', I thought, "Now that was fine writing!"  Her second novel, 'The Forgotten Garden', didn't thrill me very much, but I had high hopes for her third, 'The Distant Hours', a novel that, while I found it satisfying, was a bit too long.

And now there's her fourth, 'The Secret Keeper'.  "Oh, Kate," I said to myself.  "Please get it right with this one!"

Oh, she did.  She really did.

Full of twists and turns, secrets and lies, 'The Secret Keeper' may just be her best novel to date.

It opens with a visually-stunning view of the English countryside.  Sixteen year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped a family picnic by hiding in her treehouse, dreaming of her future.  But before the afternoon is over, she is witness to a shocking crime involving her beloved mother and a dark stranger.  Fifty years later, Laurel has become a world-renown actress, and she returns to her family home to celebrate her mother's ninetieth birthday.  Realizing that her mother isn't long for this earth, Laurel gently questions her mother about that jarring past event, and in doing so, sets off to find answers.

Her mother's story begins in pre-WW2 England and through the Blitz, through to the '60's and beyond.  Laurel discovers that three strangers, Dorothy (her mother), Viven, and Jimmy, have met by chance and find their lives forever entwined.

This beautifully-realized novel, dear reader, is full of intrigue and secrets.  The lies are enormous.  And the pay-off?

I'm keeping that to myself.

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