When Elizabeth Keane returns to Ireland after her mother’s death, she’s focused only on saying goodbye to that dark and dismal part of her life. Her childhood home is packed solid with useless junk, her mother’s presence already fading. But within this mess, she discovers a small stash of letters—and ultimately, the truth.
Forty years earlier, a young woman stumbles from a remote stone house, the night quiet except for the constant wind that encircles her as she hurries deeper into the darkness away from the cliffs and the sea. She has no sense of where she is going, only that she must keep on.
Graham William Walker is an Irish actor, comedian, television presenter and columnist, known by his stage name Graham Norton. He is the host of the comedy chat show The Graham Norton Show and the BBC commentator of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Once again Graham Norton surprises me with his writing abilities in this well drawn story of small town Irish life and remote rural farming families. When it comes to relationships, there is not much in the way of cheering fare, with disappointment, intrigue, darkness, and stoicism from two different eras. Divorced New Yorker Elizabeth Keane returns home to Ireland and Buncarragh with the death of her mother, Patricia, to put her affairs in order. She is less than keen on her remaining family, riddled with conflict and devious machinations, but she has to clear her mother's house with a view to selling it. The house is in dilapidated state and more worryingly, infested with rats which scuppers Elizabeth's plan for residing there for the short duration of her stay. Elizabeth thinks she knows her mother inside out, but her confidence in this takes a huge knock when she discovers a pile of ribbon wrapped letters in the back of Patricia's wardrobe. In this narrative that goes back and forth in time, Patricia's life is slowly revealed as to how she ended up being a confirmed spinster and life long devoted single mother to her beloved daughter, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth has a 17 year old son, Zach, who she is over protective of and is constantly on her mind. He is visiting his gay father, Elliot in California, a man he has seen little of since his parents acrimonious split. Elizabeth is left reeling as she delves in her mother's life, her unsettling romance with her father, Edward Foley, a farmer living in a remote area by the sea. She meets with her mother's best friend, Rosemary O'Shea, and those who knew her father and her griefstricken and disturbed grandmother. A codicil to her mother's will brings further unexpected surprises. In the present, Elizabeth is faced with more unexpected shattering shocks regarding Zach that are to lead to life changing moves in her future. This is a hugely compelling family drama, of mothers whose children are everything, and of the darkness, heartbreak, intrigue, mental health issues and secrets that bubble within the facade of families, past and present. I found this to be an engaging and absorbing read that I recommend. Many thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC.
It's terribly unfair. While it took Margaret Mitchell 10 years to compose 'Gone With the End', and 12 years for Victor Hugo to finish 'Les Miserables', Graham Norton appears to have thrown this together over the course of a rainy Saturday afternoon and published it the following Monday without any further thought or attention.
Truly, I cannot overstate how frustrating I found this book. The plot was lazy and repetitive, the writing poor, and the dialogue dreadful. I'd have given up after the third chapter, but - having read some excellent reviews here on Goodreads - I felt sure the story would pick up towards the end.
I never watch talk shows, however I know who Mr Norton is, and I admit I was intrigued by the fact that he has accomplished two novels, both receiving many positive reviews. I borrowed THE KEEPER from Overdrive, and .... yes, I enjoyed it a lot. The story of a daughter returning to Ireland and discovering her identity is moving, but even more so is the story of her mother, who, now dead, brought up Elizabeth on her own in the society where single mothers were not accepted with open hands. Patricia defied the conventions and devoted her life to her daughter. No spoilers here, but the plot is intriguing, and the truth revealed proves that life sometimes prepares for us most extraordinary surprises, just like for Elizabeth. This novel will never be nominated for grand literary prizes, but I believe it makes an enjoyable read for those who like a good story with twists and turns. Well done, Mr Norton! My only complaint is that Graham Norton's diction is not always perfect, and at times he reads too fast.
Elizabeth Keane returns to the island after her mother's death, Intent on wrapping up that dismal part of her life. There is nothing for her here; she wonders if there ever was.
Set in the present time and forty years ago. Elizabeth was living in New York when she learns of her mother's death. She returns to Ireland to settle her mother's affairs. When she gets there, the house is run down, has hardly any contents and its full of rats. She just wants tomsell the house and get back to New York and her son, Zach. But then she comes across some letters that were written before Elizabeth was born. The letters are from her father, a man she never knew.
Graham Norton has been on TV for years in the UK. He is a comedian who regularly host a chat show and the Eurovision Song Contest. This is his second novel. His first novel I loved so when I seen he had this new novel coming out, I just had to get myself a copy. It's set in Buncarragh, Ireland. The duel storylines gel well together. It's only while you are reading the book, you realise the significance of its title. A story of missed chances, love and loss. A well written book that at one point, i did find a bit far fetched. I did enjoy his first novel, Holding, a bit more than I did this novel. But I will be looking forward to reading more from this Graham Norton in the future.
I would like to thank NetGalley, Hodder & Stoughton and the author Graham Norton for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Elizabeth Keane returns to her homeland ireland to get her mothers affairs in order after her death, returning to the home she was brought up in was one she would rather forget. Patricia ( Liz) mother was a very demanding woman that would have nothing to do with family whatsoever, its not until Elizabeth finds letters from 40 years earlier she decides to read them what she finds is that there are a lot of questions unanswered & she is determined to find the truth.
There is a lot of heartache, lost love & secrets we find out in the letters that through each chapter the reveals are just horrifying for Elizabeth to endure, the love between patricia & Edward was written beautifully the writing was esquisite & evocative the writing flowed efortlessly between the character.I did feel hatred for Edwards mother, yes he was a mummy's boy but why did she have a hold over him?
Will Elizabeth find the truth or will it stay hiiden forever. i loved this book it had me in from the first page it moved at a quick pace a heartbreaking story that will play with your emotions as it did mine.
Norton’s 2016 debut novel, Holding, was surprisingly good. Unfortunately, this second offering is not nearly as strong. His characters have a cardboard quality and he has jammed the plot with events that never quite come together in a believable way. There are plenty of plot-twists that should have resonated with emotion. Instead, they just seem overly melodramatic.
Elizabeth Keane travels with a heavy heart from New York to Buncarragh just north of Kilkenny. Her mother passed away and it is now up to Elizabeth to sort through her things and close up the house. She's a recently divorced mother of seventeen year old Zach. Zach will be spending time with his father in San Francisco during her absence.
Living in America has left a void in Elizabeth as she tries to interact with her extended Irish family. She comes across some handwritten letters to her mother from a man by the name of Edward Foley in Cork. Elizabeth is perplexed as to the nature of these letters.
While trying to figure out the source of the letters, Elizabeth is contacted by her mother's attorney. She's inherited a house in Cork with no explanation whatsoever. Out of curiosity, Elizabeth plans a day trip to view the property. It is here that the story gets a firmer foothole and we, as readers, will come to see what Graham Norton has in mind for us.
A Keeper has the vibes of Misery by Stephen King in some respects. What begins as a mother/daughter relationship novel will soon take on a much, much darker theme. And that, Boys and Girls, is a delightful plum pudding.
Graham Norton will reach back into Elizabeth's mother's past with chapters entitled Then and Now. Patricia Keane's younger life will catch you off guard. We certainly didn't see it coming and when it arrives it will knock the chair right out from under you. The more you struggle, the deeper you sink.
A Keeper is a clever, creative read with some highly unusual characters. It's comprised of events of faulty decision-making that befalls one while searching for the promises of a better life. Lifting the lid may be quite the shocker. A Keeper is my first Graham Norton read and I'm very much impressed by the writing. I look forward to the next offering. It's that good.
I received a copy of A Keeper through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Atria Books and to Graham Norton for the opportunity.
5 bright stars from me! I love Graham Norton's writing and I would have read it in one sitting if I could, but I needed some sleep in between. I wasn't bored for one minute, I thought the story unfolded very well , with new snippets of information added all the time. And I loved spending some time in Ireland, because that is how it felt. I hope GN is well on his way with his next book!
"Waterford crystal, so special that it wasn't used even for special occasions."
Well this book was a surprise read. Recommended to me by my son. I had seen a few of his shows - but not to my taste. The writing is superb. Even poetic in parts. The main characters' interior monologue was outstanding. Norton really captured the essence of the person. Unputdownable
This is the 2nd novel I have read by Graham Norton and once again I am so impressed with his writing. Don't be put off by his stage persona and read this book as you would any other author. This is a fabulous little book and I read it from start to finish in one sitting wanting to know more.
The story follows Elizabeth Keane, who returns to Ireland after her mother's death, to tie up loose ends on a not very happy time in her life. She has very little there, unpleasant memories, items of small value, but all that changes when she finds a small stash of letters telling a story that she was never told. The book goes back and forward in time telling the story from both Elizabeth in present day and her mother Patricia in the past. This is a lovely read and well worth a look. I read Graham Norton's first novel mostly out of curiosity but found the writing very good, now after reading this book I will look out for his novels for the entertaining emotive writing.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Hodder & Stoughton for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
I tend to wait at least a day after finishing a book to post a review, but I am highly annoyed right now and just want to put this book behind me. I maybe at one point while reading this ARC said are you serious and then started muttering to myself about just DNFing it. I don't like to do that with NetGalley reads though, so I may have to rethink on that in the future. This book was all over the place. I thought I was sitting down to read a solid mystery about a woman returning (Elizabeth) to her hometown in Ireland and finding out about her mother's (Patricia) past. Instead we don't really find out about it, we hear bits and pieces via other inconsequential secondary characters. The author throwing Patrica's POV in did nothing to help things. The plot with Elizabeth's son came out of nowhere and just made zero sense. Maybe if Norton actually spent time building up any of these characters I would have cared more.
"A Keeper" follows Elizabeth Keane as she returns back home to settle her deceased mother's (Patricia) estate. Elizabeth hates being back in her hometown and feels like a failure. She's a single mother raising her 17 year old son and dealing with the fall out of her marriage still. While staying at her mother's home, Elizabeth is informed there's a codicil to her mother's will and also finds letters from her father that he wrote to her mother almost 40 years ago. From there we have Elizabeth traveling back to where her father lived and finding out about what led her mother to him all of those years ago.
So I was unsympathetic to Elizabeth during this entire book. She pretty much sucks from beginning to end. She didn't really stay in touch with her mother and even when she was dying didn't seem to see the need to be there. She acts put out by things and is reluctant to be away from her son. Most of the book is Elizabeth remembering how her mother raised her and either finding fault with it and or missing her at the same time. She goes on and on about her marriage and the her POV's were so scattered. I don't think Norton did a very good job developing Elizabeth. She was a chess piece to move around while he focused on what he wanted the story to be about, Patricia.
The second POV flashes back to Patricia when she was in her early 30s. After more than a decade taking care of her ill mother. Patricia is a bit lonely and when her friend pushes her to put an ad in a farmer's magazine she ends up starting correspondence with a man named Edward Foley. No spoilers, but things are not what they seem there.
So Norton goes back and forth between Elizabeth and Patricia. I pretty much guessed most of what is revealed. It wouldn't have been an issue if the plot had been put together very well. I just found myself bored from beginning to end of this book.
I can't say much about anyone else in this book because they are not developed well at all. We have Elizabeth's son Zach, her ex-husband, Patricia's ex friend Rosemary and Edward Foley. Don't even get me started on why we get a separate POV for Rosemary, it wasn't necessary and added nothing to the story.
The writing was not very good I found. I just think that there were too many things happening and that Norton didn't make sure that both POVs worked well. Maybe if there was no Patricia POV that would have helped flesh out Elizabeth's POV more. The book then could have been more reliant on the mystery aspect. I thought that whole thing fizzled out. Elizabeth finds out about things and just does nothing. I just had to shake my head on all of that effort to tell this story for no big pay off.
The flow was not great. The POVs between Patricia and Elizabeth and the mini POVs for Edward and Rosemary just didn't hang together well.
The book's setting is Ireland in the present and the 1970s. Maybe I have been reading too much Tana French and Maeve Binchy, but the book didn't feel "Irish" to me. Even Elizabeth didn't. Maybe because she had been away for so long, but there's no mention of her having an accent or how her relatives sound, etc. We get descriptions of the house and farm and that's it.
The ending was definitely a disappointment. I mean you can guess what was coming based on the context of everything you read before. The stuff with Zach should have been left on the cutting room floor.
I had never heard of this book or the author and did not know what to expect.It is a mesmerizing read and so unexpected ,had no idea what would happen and it was all alarming and upsetting and yet i could not put it down. I cannot say much here it would ruin the story ,very sad thread in it and a desperate act that tore lives apart.who knows what drives people to try to set things right ,and instead making it a kidnapping nightmare.read this....
2.5* rounded up. I've not yet read Norton's first novel but it got good reviews, so when I was given the chance to read this as an ARC, I went for it. And now I'm not really sure if I'm going to read the first one...
The writing is fine. Not brilliant, but fine. It's a bit in-the-style-of-Maeve-Binchy, which is, again, fine. Binchy entertained many people, including me. But I was hoping for something a bit more...edgy? challenging?...from Norton, and I didn't get it. It's a hard book to genre-ify; it doesn't seem quite sure of what it wants to be: gothic? family? humour? horror? The plot is quite far-fetched to begin with, but there are some sizeable holes in it, such as when characters do something completely out of character, or when information is revealed that makes something from earlier stop making sense, and then it's never explained (did we ever find out why - I'm not completely certain that I didn't miss something there, but I don't really feel like I can be bothered going back to re-read and find out).
I really wanted to like this, and I'm not saying it's a bad book, but I was hoping for so much more than "eh, it's okay" from it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this family drama with a mystery.
What I love about Graham's writing is his understanding of people and how he brings them to life.
This book is nothing like his first book () which I also loved but it has some similar themes; small town Ireland, dark humour, real life.
The story manages to be shocking but in an every-day style...like you're listening to gossip in the local pub. I'm not sure I'm explaining this very well...if you like real life drama with a hint of dark humour and some brilliant characters please pick this up and share with me.
It's kind of cosy but also sad and very moving(I did cry a bit) ...it's just a fab read and one of my favourites this year.
Perhaps when I've digested this more (only just finished) I can come back and write something more coherent! It is really good, I promise you.
Absolutely delightful - the kind of book you should always reach for if you're in a slump. Well-written, a good, just right amount of bewildering storyline and good characters.
The blurb isn't great, but there are plenty of reviews if you need more information. I'll just say that we are treated to a dual timeline story about Elizabeth in present time, returning to her native Ireland and by chance, rather than intention, begins to unravel her mother's (Patricia) story and how she herself came to be. It's a bit of a roller coaster of discoveries and reveals, balancing between darkness and kindness all the way.
An intelligent, well paced mystery that I gulped down in three rainy days. Alternating masterfully between “Now” and “Then,” from Convent Hill in the town of Buncarragh just outside Kilkenny, Ireland to the remote Castle House by the sea near West Cork, Graham Norton spins the tale of Patricia Keane and her daughter Elizabeth.
“Now”: Only child Elizabeth Keane, a 44-year-old college instructor, divorcée and mother to 17-year-old Zach, living in a tiny apartment in Manhattan, travels to Ireland to finalize her recently deceased mother’s estate in Buncarragh. She finds a hidden box of letters filled with clues about the father she never knew.
“Then”: 32-year-old “spinster,” Patricia Keane, having cared for her ailing mother for 14 years, places a “Lonely Heart” ad seeking male companionship after her mother finally dies. She receives a reply from one Edward Foley of Castle House, and what unfolds reminded me often of Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ - without the gore.
I had a couple of “eye roll” moments with this book, and I noticed several detail oversights, but this was an excellent read for me. There wasn’t a single character here I didn’t like, or at least sympathize with (including Edward’s deranged mother Catherine) and I loved the setting. Recommended to mystery fans or anyone looking for a riveting read on a rainy day.
“The rooms weren’t empty, they were filled with the absence of someone. The dead don’t vanish, they leave a negative of themselves stamped on the world.”
This was a very readable and entertaining book. Elizabeth Keane returns to her small town in Ireland after her mother passes away. As she is sorting through the effects of a lifetime, she discovers a box of letters that reveal her mother as Elizabeth never imagined. It leads her to discover her past that she never knew existed.
Meanwhile her 17 year old son back in NYC makes long lasting decisions that impact both his and Elizabeth's lives. Of course, she is not there for guidance so she turns to her divorced husband to step in and be a father, something he has done little of before this.
There is quite a little mystery involved that is down right creepy. It required me to suspend belief a little but strange things have happened and this is strange.
A nice read that kept me turning the pages. Thanks to Net Galley and Atria books for a copy of this book to review.
A 3.5 star read. Goodreads still doesn't accommodate half star ratings!! Come on guys!
After loving Holding, Norton's previous book, I was really excited by this read. Elizabeth has returned from New York to small town Ireland to deal with her mother's estate after her passing. It's been a long time since Elizabeth has been in the town that that she grew up in and being back fills her with a mixture of emotions. In clearing out her mother's wardrobe Elizabeth comes across a wooden box containing letters from her father whom she knows very little about. Finding that she has time on her own she decides to delve into her mother's past and the book switches between Elizabeth and Patrica's stories respectively.
This is a lovely, engaging story about family, loss and acceptance of what you can't change. For me it wasn't quite up to the mark of Holding which I loved but this nevertheless was read very quickly. Norton writes in an absorbing way, more than able to flesh out characters and place settings such as bringing rural Cork to life. The plot, however, was a little far fetched at times and I did question some decision making. That said, I would be more than happy to read further tales by Norton. I love his style of writing, his settings and drawing of local characters. Just perhaps suspend belief in this instance - just a little.
4.5 Stars for A Keeper: A Novel (audiobook) by Graham Norton read by the author. I really enjoy Graham Norton’s TV show on the BBC. I think he is one of the most entertaining interviewers on TV. I’m so happy that he has another creative outlet for us to enjoy. This book definitely explores a dark side of people. Everything seems fine till you start trying to make sense of your family tree. I hope Graham writes some more fiction. I’ve really enjoyed his books and it’s great to hear them in his voice.
Last but not least read of the 2018!!.. 4.5 stars round up to 5, because of the wonderful atmosphere that Graham Norton created in this book. I got this book as a gift from my Secret Santa in one of my GR groups. Thank you! What a wonderful journey Graham Norton takes a reader on! In its simple, straightforward ways he delivers an array of emotions.
Elizabeth returns to Ireland to sort out some family affairs after her mother's death, leaving behind her teenage son and an ex husband. What was supposed to be a bit of ordinary shuffle unravels into an emotional journey in time and some unexpected discoveries.
Norton is so skilful in his portrayal of Irish life in its best and worst. He recreates the atmosphere, the characters, the moods of times so well!
Değişik bir hikaye ama bu kadar gerilim olacağını sanmamıştım. Gayet sakin giderken bir anda şartların değişmesi beni epey gerdi.Final de ilginçti böyle bir son düşünmemiştim aslında yazarın başarısı da bu ; okuyucuya fırsat vermiyor ne olabileceği hakkında düşünmesine.İlerde yazarın başka bir eserinide okumak isterim mutlaka.
Graham Norton’s follow-up to his hugely impressive debut novel, Holding, is a bleak family drama set across a parallel narrative forty years apart. Compelling, well-written with a great eye for human foibles it is undoubtedly highly readable but for me lacked substance and there isn’t much more to the novel than what becomes pretty obvious early on. Yet despite knowing what was in store and the unfolding details of past narrative becoming bizarrely far-fetched I never once wanted to put the book down which is surely a testament to Norton’s writing. Overall however I was just a little bemused by the abrupt conclusion and the takeaway felt a little too simplistic.
The novel opens with forty-something Elizabeth Keane, a divorced lecturer in Romantic poetry based in New York, returning to her hometown of Buncarragh following the death of her mother, Patricia. Growing up in a small town and without a father, Elizabeth longed to get away and now as a single mother herself to a teenage son she is none too pleased to be reunited with her judgmental extended family as she plans to clear the house for sale. Stumbling across a small wooden box of letters penned to her mother in the early Seventies in response to a lonely hearts advert by the man she has been told is her father it provides her first opportunity to learn more about Edward Foley. Despite asking her uncle and her mother’s former friend about her mother’s brief time in the coastal town of Muirinish she learns nothing more than that Patricia returned following Edward’s death with local suspicion that she had been pregnant prior to leaving Buncarragh prevailing. As Elizabeth goes in search of her own answers and worries about her AWOL son, Zach, she finds rather more than she bargained for and ultimately gains a new appreciation for the woman her mother was.
As a second narrative beginning in 1973 opens with the death of thirty-two-year-old Patricia’s mother releasing her from a lifetime of caring it follows her foray into the world of romance and sees her visit Edward and his mother at their farm in West Cork. That things take a far darker turn is obvious but just how far-fetched they become was a disappointment. Whilst I expected Elizabeth’s discovery of her origins to be revelatory and of momentous importance to her the fairly muted, and abrupt ending, proved a bit of a damp squib. Despite my reservations however A Keeper is engaging, well-written and wryly humorous and despite feeling Elizabeth’s character lacked depth I found it a very worthwhile read.
This is the second Graham Norton book I've read. My first was Home Stretch, which was such a fantastic read that it set the bar really high. And thankfully, this book lived up to the expectation.
A Keeper is a gripping story of sorrow and pain, forgotten memories and best kept secrets. There are two prominent time lines and Norton easily switches from one to another. The story is tight, the writing is sensitive, the plot is gripping - this book has all the elements of a great read. Graham Norton knows how to spin a yarn.
Elizabeth comes back to Ireland from America to settle her mother's estate. She's divorced with a teen aged son and never knew who her father was. The morning after arriving at her mother's home, she discovers letters from an Edward Foley hidden in the armoire; could this be her father? This is where the story begins shifting back and forth between present day and the early 1970s, before Elizabeth was born.
This is also where the story starts to lose track. Overall, I liked the story and the plot and felt it was fairly well written, although it did bring to mind shades of "Wuthering Heights" meets "Jane Eyre" meets "Rebecca".
The story was very disjointed... I felt as if we were given only the barest of sketches of the characters and the backstory. The story jumped around and progressed quickly as well. While I certainly understood Elizabeth's quest for information, I felt she was a fairly impulsive character. The son's subsequent story didn't work for me either... it's as if that was thrown in to match the headlines of the day. The snarky ex-husband didn't go over well either and actually just disappeared out of the end of the story, never to be heard from again.
The side characters - I could have done with more information on the family feud with Elizabeth, her aunt, uncle, and cousin... instead we get an in-depth look at while Nicole (the cousin's wife) is somewhat unhappy with her lot in life, but after that the explanation goes no further. A few of the characters Elizabeth talks to regarding her mother and family history are really kind of jerks. One of the characters regrets giving Elizabeth info because it made her cry (it would have made anyone cry); she basically kicks Elizabeth out of her house, but eventually (reluctantly) gives E the remaining info after E swears "I won't cry anymore!".
I know this is Norton's second novel (his first was soo much better!), but he really left a lot to be desired in this book. Maybe he needs a better editor as well, as there were so many points that could have used further explanation while working on the timeline.
While I'm not sorry I read this, I was definitely disappointed in the outcome.
Elizabeth's mother has passed away. She comes back from New York to her tiny hometown of Buncarragh to sort through her mother's house. In doing so she finds some letters, written from her father to her mother right at the start of their relationship. She had never known her father; he had died when she was very young. She decides that she wants to find out more about him. But nobody seems to know anything about Edward Foley, and the deeper she digs she discovers that she knows nothing about where she came from.
I've read a previous book by Graham Norton, - 'Holding' - and enjoyed it, which is why I wanted to pick this one up too. This one was even better. Graham's writing is effortless; his Irish roots are very much evident and he uses that to his advantage. There is always a soft and homely humour in the background of his books, and his traditional characters shine through with personality.
This story holds a mixture of emotions. It is not tense or a thriller by any means, but it does hold a great deal of dark mystery and sadness. Add to this Elizabeth's awkwardness and frustrations, the quirkiness of everyone she comes across, and little moments of beauty, and you have the unusual combination that comes together to make this book absolutely wonderful. It isn't truly exciting, but it is deep and emotional. You will be surprised at many points, and you will carry on reading because you want to know what happened as much as Elizabeth does.
רומן מתח בנוי לעילא, שכולל גילויים מטרידים ומטלטלים. החיסרון היחידי שלו הוא אובר מלודרמטיות בחלק האחרון של הסיפור.
אליזבת קין חוזרת לאירלנד כדי למכור את בית אימה. כשהיא מסדרת את הארון היא נתקלת בחבילת מכתבים שמובילה אותה במסע אל עברה והעבר המשפחתי שלה.
הסיפור נע בין העבר, שכולל את סיפורה של פטרישיה, אימה של אליזבת, לבין ההווה שכולל את סיפור זוגיותה ואימהותה של אליזבת. לחלק מהגילויים בסיפור מגיעה אליזבת בעצמה, כשהיא יוצאת לקצות אירלנד בעיקבות גורלה וחלק אחר מובא לקורא ע"י מספר יודע כל.
במשך שנים נטרה אליזבת לאימה על כך שלא הצליחה להינשא. הדבר היחידי שהיא יודעת על אביה הוא שאביה נהרג או נפטר. אליזבת מגדלת את בנה זק בדירה פיצפונת בניו יורק לאחר גירושים מכוערים מבעלה אליוט. במכתבים היא מוצאת רמזים לקשר שהיה לאימה שלה עם גבר בשם אדוארד פולי. אליזבת יוצאת לרדוף אחר זנב הידיעה ולמצוא מה בדיוק קרה לאימא שלה במשך שנה שבה נעלמה וחזרה איתה לביתה.
ואיזה סיפור מטלטל הקורא מקבל. לפרקים פשוט נותרתי פעורת פה.
לסופר יש כישרון לתעתע בקורא. הכל על פניו נראה סתמי ושלו. הוא טווה קורים סביב הקורא ומוביל אותו אל המלכודת. הפרקים נחתכים בדיוק במקום הנכון, כשהקורא חושב שהוא הבין את כל התמונה ואז בפרק העוקב מבחינה כרונולוגית הידיעה מתהפכת והקורא צועד צעד קטן נוסף אל הפח שהסופר טומן לו. בשלבים מסויימים של הסיפור ממש כססתי ציפורניים.
What an incredible novel this was! Graham Norton has fast become my go-to author when I’m in need of a guaranteed good read or a reading reset. I love his ‘voice’ which just leaps right off the page. Lyrical and warm, full of wit and on point humour to balance out the more sombre moments. This story was all the more enjoyable for its unexpected plot turn. But first, how beautiful is this:
‘The rooms weren’t empty, they were filled with the absence of someone. The dead don’t vanish, they leave a negative of themselves stamped on the world.’
A Keeper is a dual narrative. We’re with Elizabeth in the present day and her mother, Patricia, forty years earlier. Elizabeth has returned to Ireland to finalise her mother’s affairs after passing away. In the wardrobe she finds a box with some letters that appear to be written by her father, a man whom she has never known, who she believes passed away when she was but an infant. That box, and an appointment with her mother’s solicitor, unravels everything Elizabeth believes to be true about herself and her family.
There were quite a few skeletons rattling around in this family’s closet, goodness! I enjoyed both eras of this story, journeying along with Elizabeth while she balanced uncovering her family history with a family drama in the present. And Patricia’s story! There was a creepy ‘Rebecca’ feel to Patricia’s sections, the isolated house perched alongside a ruined castle on the wild coast – Ireland, not Cornwall, but still – a strange man, a crazed old woman, and secrets galore! But in amongst this, great tragedy too. This was powerful storytelling, with depth of both character and plot, the threads joining both eras all strongly interwoven.
If you haven’t yet read a Graham Norton novel, do yourself a favour and hop to it. He’s a brilliant writer and each of his novels are so different from each other, yet instantly recognisable as his work, offering a reading experience that is both a comfort and good for your soul.
Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of A Keeper for review.
What a fantastic read. Consider me a firm fan of this author. He knows how to reel you in from page one, and keep you glued to the pages. What else do readers want?
I don't want to throw any spoilers. We know from the first page (the chapter known as "Before") that a POV character is in great distress after some type of turbulent event in which an official vehicle has arrived. We know he's very depressed and that he will now look to his mom for advice.
The next chapter is the "Now" and we meet a young single mom who has just learned her mom has passed. She needs to go to Ireland and clear out her house and wind up her affairs. She is dealing w/the loss of her mom and also with her teen son, whose situation is complicated because she is raising him alone.
Alternating between "Now" and "Then" storylines, the backstory is revealed, and we see the connection between "now" and "then". This probably doesn't sound too interesting, but trust me, it is a fantastic read. Norton can be funny at times, and has keen observations re: human nature. His characters are real, flawed, interesting people. I enjoyed every word of this novel. There's no question it deserves six stars.
I didn't listen to the audio version much, but what I did hear, I enjoyed. Five stars to the audio performance.
I'll be looking at Norton's back list, and I'll read anything he writes. A fast, immersive page-turner that took me to a big old house in Ireland by the sea? You better believe I'm there for it. Highly recommended.