Sandi's Reviews > A Secret Kept

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay
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's review
Feb 08, 2011

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bookshelves: first-reads, 2011
Read from January 28 to February 08, 2011

I think I'm turning into a crotchety old lady. I was really looking forward to reading A Secret Kept. I had read a preview and really liked it. I loved Sarah's Key by the same author. I'm sad to say that I was disappointed.

I'll start with the positive. De Rosnay does a fabulous job of setting the scene. I've never been to France, but I was able to imagine what it was like living in Paris and visiting a resort island with a road that gets submerged at high tide. De Rosnay also gets people right. Each of her characters, especially Tonio's insufferable children, seems quite real. It seems that French teenagers are very much like American teens.

So, that brings me to the reasons why I gave the book three stars instead of four. (I'm trying to give fewer books 5 stars these days, so 4 stars means it's really good.) First, Antonio was such a spineless girly-man. He just let stuff happen to him and rarely stood up for himself. He was the king of non-confrontation. I just wanted to smack him and say, "Man up, dude." Even in relationships, the women take the lead. And, surprise, he's unhappy.

The other thing that I didn't like was that the mystery part of the story wasn't very mysterious. We know pretty early on that the mother was having an affair before she suddenly died. The only mystery there was who her lover was. Well, that secret is revealed halfway through the book. Then, we think that there's another, bigger secret that's part of the secret that was just revealed. But, that second secret turns out to be a big nothing. (How's that for not spoiling the plot?)

Ultimately, I think the thing that disappointed me most was that I was expecting a mystery about a big, dark family secret, and I was expecting it to follow mystery conventions in a literary way. However, this is entirely a book about feelings and about the ways in which people don't communicate with those to whom they are closest. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for a feelings book.


I do need to thank Sarah at MacMillan for sending out a second copy of this book for me. I won it through FirstReads on Oct. 1 and realized in early January that it was way past due. Sarah was very helpful.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Can't wait to hear what you think. I also won Sarah's Key either through first-reads and loved it.

message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan 3 stars? Waiting for the review.

Sandi I'm so far behind on my reviewing. I really need to stop playing those stupid Facebook games.

message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Sandi wrote: "I'm so far behind on my reviewing. I really need to stop playing those stupid Facebook games."


Hmm. I'm on facebook but rarely do anything with it. Wanna be facebook friends though? Even though I'm incredibly boring there?

I'm off to see if I can find you. If not, I'll message you with my facebook profile page link.

message 5: by Sandi (last edited Feb 08, 2011 10:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sandi Okay. I will admit that I'm a really lousy Facebooker though. I mostly just like different blogs and companies...and play those stupid -ville games.

message 6: by Lisa (last edited Feb 08, 2011 10:34PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan I sent you an invite. I don't even play the games even though three friends there want me to. I mostly like people's posts and orgs, etc. Very boring. But I have a Goodreaders friends list. :-)

Sandi I see I'm the third person on your Goodreaders list. :) You have your friends in groups, you're way more Facebook savvy than I am.

message 8: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Sandi, I think you're the 9th Goodreader friend. You have to click on the list name or more to see the full list of names. I'll check later but I think I already had 8 people on that list. Note: The majority of my friends won't join either facebook or Goodreads; I'm most disappointed that they won't join here. :-(

Megan Tiscareno Goodness, you put into words what I couldn't stand about Antoine as the protagonist. I also agree about the mystery part. It was pretty obvious right away what was going on with the mother and for a "feelings based" story, I just don't feel like anything was really finessed enough.

message 10: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Mclaren Thank you for your review, Sandi. I too enjoyed Sarah's Key and would be interested in another book by this author, but your review helps me with my expectations. Like you, I would expect a secret to be reveals further along in the story and it sounds like it wasn't much of a secret (like who would care, except perhaps the family?) Thanks so much for the honesty.

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