Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Title: The Secret Keeper

Author: Kate Morton

Published: Allen & Unwin November 2012

Synopsis: 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. Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from October 29 to November 01, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy TheReadingRoom / Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:

The Secret Keeper is the fourth novel from popular Australian author Kate Morton, whose previous books such as the The House At Riverton and The Forgotten Garden, have enjoyed international success.

In the Secret Keeper, Morton grabs the reader’s attention with the first chapter as sixteen year old Laurel witnesses a tragic altercation between her mother and a stranger. Nearly fifty years later Laurel’s latent curiosity prompts her to investigate Dorothy’s past, inspired by an inscription in a copy of a Peter Pan, a photo of Dolly linking arms with a friend, Vivian, and the vague whispers of her dying mother, slowly piecing together an extraordinary story.

As the narrative shifts between Laurel’s search into her mother’s past in present-day England to London during the Blitz, the reader is witness to Dorothy’s life. A headstrong and vivacious teenager, Dolly flees her staid family to make a life for herself in London, certain she is destined to become something special. She imagines having a life of luxury, social standing and wealth, like that enjoyed by Vivian Jenkins, which seems possible when she becomes the companion of the rich, eccentric and elderly, Lady Gwendolyn but when Dolly’s dreams sour, she is devastated. Despite the adoration of her boyfriend, Jimmy, Dolly concocts a plan to claim what she believes is her destiny, triggering a cascade of events that lead to tragedy.

In a vividly drawn setting, Morton creates a cast of intriguing, believable characters who are motivated by wistful dreams and dark secrets. As their relationships unraveled and the plot grew more intricate I was drawn into the twists and turns of the story, that leads to a stunning conclusion that will take most readers by surprise.

Finely crafted, The Secret Keeper is both an engrossing mystery and a sweeping historical saga. A compelling tale of love, loss and betrayal this is a wonderful read from a gifted storyteller.

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