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The Last Secret: A Novel

3.1  ·  Rating Details ·  585 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
"In The Last Secret, Mary McGarry Morris tells the story of Nora Hammond, a woman blessed with the perfect life: a charming husband, two bright teenage children, a successful career in the family's newspaper business, and an esteemed role in the charity work of her New England town. But Nora's comfortable existence threatens to unravel when she learns of her husband's long ...more
Kindle Edition, 290 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Andrea Heidebrecht
It is inconceivable to me that the author of this novel also wrote the brilliant work "The Lost Mother." In this book, Morris' character development is poor and the major plot revelations near the end of the novel were blatantly obvious by the second chapter. The fact that Nora doesn't even consider divorce as a possibility after learning of her husband's lengthy affair, especially after Ken says he doesn't "do" guilt very well, is unrealistic and so is the fact that she doesn't ask Ken the ques ...more
Lynne Adams
Apr 14, 2012 Lynne Adams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really surprised I didn't like this book because I love Mary McGarry Morris's other books. This one just fell flat in every respect. The plot was predictable and tedious, and more importantly, I disliked EVERY character, even the children. No one was particularly sympathetic or even interesting. The main character was like an infuriating friend you want to scream at because they are acting so ridiculous. Her refusal to take any action after she found out her husband's secrets was just unbear ...more
Jan 18, 2010 Beth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's a mixed blessing to get good dust-jacket blurbs. Mary McGarry Morris's work was described as brilliant, absorbing, thrilling, deeply affecting, and astonishing---among others. And the people giving the praise are no slouches since they are writing for the NYTimes and the Washington Post (among others).
I found this piece (which I didn't finish) both predictable and unrealistic -- the story of an apparently happily married woman (Nora) whose life crumbles around her (partially because of some
May 30, 2009 Nette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Next time I'm going to trust the Goodreads reviewers rather than the established print critics, who thought this book was rich and lyrical and wrenching (and who all must have discovered crisp hundred dollar bills tucked into their review copies). Imagine a novelization of the worst Lifetime "Woman in Peril" movie you've ever seen. Then imagine that the heroine is whiny and unlikeable and the villain is right out of a crappy L&O: SVO episode (sorry, mixing my TV metaphors), and voila: this b ...more
Oct 04, 2009 Ruth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
What can I say? My library seems to love MMG, and their list of MP3 downloads is light on stuff I want to read. This is a loser. Talk about the Perils of Pauline. Poor Nora, in the space of about a year, has almost every misfortune one can imagine dumped into her unable-to-cope lap. Describing all this is some of the most purple over-the-top prose I've read in a long time. Only reason I slogged on to the end was to see how in the hell MMG was going to resolve this melodramatic stew. Not well, it ...more
Apr 21, 2009 Kathleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was hooked in immediately to this book, which kept me on the edge of my seat. The characters were unlikeable--mostly rich and abrasive. The Last Secret has a trashy veneer to it, with the con man hovering on the edges, waiting to strike, and no one being honest with anyone...still I kept reading.
Bonnie Brody
Mar 03, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are some books and authors that I'd like to have with me on a desert island. Mary McGarry Morris is one of those writers. I have always been drawn to her books, their dark and brooding nature with the sentience of doom and fatality omnipresent. I can almost smell the darkness when I read her novels, feel the desperation of the dissolute and the outsider. I have read all but two of her books and those two I'm saving for a very special time and place - - a desert island kind of moment. She's ...more
Oct 14, 2011 Nina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I think we all have days when we wake up hating the world and wanting everyone in it to be as miserable as we are. For me these days usually coincide with the first two of my period. This book is perfect for those times. Also for right after (or before) a break-up or when you specifically dislike someone and want them to suffer in fiction. Gorge yourself on schadenfreude! Warning: I don't recommend reading the entire book at once or undiluted by other books, as you may end up feeling disgusted w ...more
Donna Girouard
Jun 18, 2014 Donna Girouard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, by the time the last secret is revealed in The Last Secret, it's really no secret because any reader with half a brain and a little savvy has already figured it out. But that's not the biggest problem (for me) with this novel.
The main reason I rated this book the way I have is because of the ending. Too many people survived (and some even to live happily ever after). Honestly, I wanted this novel to end like a Shakespearean tragedy: with nearly everyone dead (at least all the main charact
Nov 05, 2014 Valerie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really connect with this book. The main character is, by her own description, cold and bossy, and you never really get to see a soft side that makes you care about her. The premise was interesting - the man from her past arriving when her life is falling apart - but then the story takes an odd turn and the protagonist becomes even less likeable. All the characters left me cold, actually, and the story was pretty depressing.
Jun 20, 2009 Sa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed with The Last Secret. Being a fan of Mary MaGarry Morris, I expected more. The story and details seemed contrived. If you want to read a good Mary MaGarry Morris book I recommend Songs of Ordinary Times.
May 20, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Competent but not riveting account of a woman's life falling apart...husband in an affair, kids running wild and a charismatic loser from her past back in town and looking for money. Just okay from a writing standpoint and pretty depressing on top of that.
Mar 27, 2011 Cathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this down. The rich writing and Nora's view of the world captured me when the book opened on her 17-year-old self and never let go. If you like psychological suspense, I highly recommend it.
Ron Charles
Dec 09, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Last Secret" would be another (!) depressing story of a woman discovering her husband's betrayal, but Morris pumps that old tale full of adrenaline by running a wicked psychological thriller in the background. She signals her approach in an explosive preface that takes place more than two decades before the rest of the novel: Seventeen-year-old Nora has run away with a manipulative grad student who wants her to lure men into their car to rob them, but the scam immediately goes bad, and her ...more
Jun 10, 2009 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last secret by Mary McGarry Morris is a faily good book. I enjoyed reading it, but had a few problems with some of the details. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention or just missed something in the plot. I read most of the book on Sunday while I was at my volunteer job, so maybe it was too hot to concentrate.

The basic plot is that Nora Hammond has an ideal life, or so she thinks. Maybe she just doesn't take enough time to figure out what is going on around her. After all, she has a demanding j
Apr 13, 2009 RNOCEAN rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary McGarry Morris has been hailed as “one of the most skillful writers at work in America today” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times). In The Last Secret, she tells the riveting story of Nora Hammond, a woman blessed with the perfect life: a charming husband, two bright teenage children, a successful career in the family’s newspaper business, and an esteemed role in the charity work of her New England town. But Nora’s comfortable existence threatens to unravel when she learns of her husband’s lo ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Normally I like MMM's work, so I was prepared to enjoy this book. By page 50, I (and probably everyone else who read it) had figured out what the last secret is. That gave me lots of time to consider other things--like the predictable descriptions and the extreme portrayals. Still, I have to say I kept reading so there must have been something else at work. I found the ending so weak--the old saying about an actor phoning in his lines--that's what it was like. Too bad, as the ending was the only ...more
Elizabeth Sulzby
Aug 18, 2013 Elizabeth Sulzby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I just couldn't believe the main character in this book and her actions and lack of actions. Just two examples: would a woman this achieved really think her 17 year old self's actions were that bad that she keeps them secret. OK, I can see that but not as Morris has her actor do. Second, why would she be so dumb as to pay off her threatening nemesis and expect him to leave town? She works for a newspaper and is involved in all parts of it through her husband and his brother, the editor, and the ...more
Dec 19, 2008 Jeanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanne by: LJ
Nora Hammond seems to have it all: great husband, terrific kids, nice job, and lots of money. And she even makes time for her favorite charities. She is blessed with a good life, but she is haunted by her past.

In her past is a dark episode with a man named Eddie. She was only a teenager then, but she still has nightmares about the incident.

But she’s not the only one with a secret. Far from it! Her husband’s been having an affair for four years, and everyone knows about it. Except Nora. When the
Oct 13, 2009 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had a very unexpected "reader perspective realignment", which is very rare. However, I should warn you that a large chunk of it is creepy, depressing, and suspenseful and the ending seems so unfair to the heroine, even after our view of what might have happened and what her intensions might have been has been challenged. It is a perfect book club book, since different people would probaly think that different things happened! It is very skillfully written to make you reexamine what you ...more
Jul 22, 2009 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When a troubled teen, a woman briefly ran away with a young man and got into a situation that will effect her for the remainder of her life. Years later she learns that her husband has been in a four year "relationship with a close friend of hers. To make matters more complicated the man from her teen years reappears and forces himself into not only her life but also the lives of her family and her husband's mistress. I will not go into any further detail about what happens, but will tell you th ...more
Darryl Mexic
Jan 24, 2011 Darryl Mexic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Fiction. In present day Massachusetts, Nora lives a seemingly perfect life, editor of a small town newspaper owned by her husband, Ken, and his brother, two teenage well adjusted children, wonderful friends, including her best friend Robin, who along with Robin’s husband Bob, have been Ken’s best friends since childhood. But there is a secret in Nora’s long ago past and there is an affair between Robin and Ken, and these two episodes cause a sequence of events that are seemingly endless, trauma ...more
There were too many obvious things about "secrets" here. Apparently the main character is the only person in town, and I truly mean "only," who didn't know that her husband was a sleeze. She's also the only person who can't do math, because when someone says they had an affair for 4 years, and there is a 3 year old involved... Lastly, there isn't one likable character in the whole book.

The dust jacket says there is "psychological tension and chilling moral complexity." Nope. A bunch of people (m
Aug 17, 2012 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book and it ended as I hoped - after things went horribly wrong. It was predictable in some ways and not so much in others. I wasn't disappointed - I wasn't over the moon - I was satisfied and closed the cover with a sigh.

I guess I wanted a bit more justice and I felt a little let down about that - but I may not have liked it if justice had been served on the two timing husband - who sort of redeemed himself by keeping his mouth shut. He totally misunderstood events and Nora cou
Jun 29, 2009 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like "The Last Secret," and I can see that the author is a talented writer, but ultimately I found this tale unrealistic and disappointing. Every aspect of "The Last Secret" is exaggerated and overblown: Nora's supposedly "perfect" marriage is beyond messed up, her bad boyfriend who returns from the past is a deranged killer, etc. None of the characters are likable, leaving the reader with no one to identify with or cheer for. [Read my full review:]
Jul 12, 2010 Christine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Nora Trimble Hammond was living the perfect life. When a relationship between her husband and her best friend comes out into the open that illusion of perfection becomes the nightmare of trying to hold together a family that is slowly disintegrating. As if that isn't enough, a spectre from her past shows up at the same time reminding Nora of a week long interlude from her teens that she would just as soon not recall. Overall the story was a good one but I found the “voice” of the book annoyingly ...more
Sep 01, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Page-turning novel about dark secrets and adultery. A woman's dark secret from long ago shows up in her current life and threatens to tear it all to pieces.

I kept wanting to get back to it whenever I put it down. One thing I appreciated about it was that it was different--the two main characters kept getting less moral and less likeable. It was an interesting effect; it had you questioning your first impressions of them.
May 19, 2015 Marisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Library Request Audio. Wow what a terrible story of selfishness the only mature people were Nora's kids, they were saddled by two very childish irresponsible parents and their devastating fallout of betrayals and lies. What a mess, and what was Nora waiting for she should have kicked kicked out that cheating spineless mess of a husband when he told her not be reduced to some snivelling inconceivable bubble ring mess of a women. Wow what a mess of a book.
Mom Taxi Julie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Gregor
A good read for the most part but found a few of the details confusing and the characters uninteresting (except for Eddie Hawkins). The protagonist, Nora, lacked in depth, which made her seem cold at times, a heroine hard to cheer on. I did find myself hooked, though, I suppose if anything, to clear up some of the confusion. The secrets weren’t hard to figure but the ending was totally unexpected.
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As the author of several novels, Mary McGarry Morris has received considerable attention from critics and readers, as well as from prestigious awards panels.
Her books are noted for their depictions of mentally and emotionally impaired individuals who have difficulty coping with an inhospitable world.
As New York Times Book Review contributor Alice McDermott put it, “Morris does not devise plots,
More about Mary McGarry Morris...

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