Tomas's Reviews > The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads
Read from March 06 to 16, 2013

I'd never read a Kate Morton book before this one, let alone having heard of her before. When I entered the free giveaway for her latest project, I hardly thought I was going to win, but by chance I did and ended up with The Secret Keeper coming to me in the mail. I hadn't had a chance to pick it up until last week, due primarily to school commitments and such, but when I realized I had some time to spare, I thought I'd satisfy my curiosity and see what exactly this book was all about.

Well, as it turns out, it's about a lot. It all begins on a cheery summers day in 1961. Young Laurel Nicolson is daydreaming about her latest crush and the future she aspires to in her treehouse on Greenacres farm as her family celebrates her baby brother's birthday. Suddenly she sees a mysterious stranger walking up the driveway just as her mother comes out of the house, holding her brother in her arms. The stranger greets her with familiarity, and then her mother does something that haunts Laurel for much of her life. In 2011, Laurel's mother is dying, and Laurel is desperate to unearth the secrets that led to that fateful encounter fifty years before. Little does she know that it will require extensive digging through her mother's past, from her early years as an orphaned lady's maid to the bombs and terrors of the London blitz, when she enacted a vengeful plan of retribution that slowly fell apart at the seams...

That's just a small sampling of Morton's tale, which seamlessly weaves from past to present as she deftly builds her characters with all the requisite quirks, flaws, dreams, drives, and endearing qualities to make them come alive. But as much as it's an historical tale, it's also a rather ingenious mystery, and Morton's adeptness at careful and subtle clueing is really quite surprising. Even if you guess correctly at part of the solution, the twists and turns she employs are jolting enough for a silent applause at her trickery. In fact, I wouldn't hasten to say that the ending chapters are some of the best I've read this year.

I can't say this is a perfect novel, however. Morton's very British writing style takes a bit of getting used to (although the fact that an Australian can write like a Brit so convincingly is only a testament to her skills as a writer). While the first chapter kicks things off right away, there are a lot of lulls in the narrative structure that make one's interest fade and then strengthen again, when a truly great book should, theoretically, hold your interest from start to finish. And while I appreciate Morton's dedication to characterization, I do wonder now, in retrospect, if there were some superfluous chapters here and there that merely padded the page total. Laurel's present-day investigations also need a little bit of disbelief-suspension, for she is really blessed with luck and coincidence (a surviving acquaintance of her mother's, for instance, and a long-dead schoolteacher who just happened to donate all of her personal correspondence and journals to her university's library archives). But I'll let her get away with it, seeing as nothing's impossible.

So, in the end, I very much enjoyed Kate Morton's latest novel, which is certainly a must for anyone who likes reading about mysteries of the past, romances, complicated relationships, nostalgia, family sagas, and the like. There are also hints of the Brontës here, which, of course, doesn't hurt. Now that I've been introduced to Morton, I certainly won't shy away from her earlier works, and I'll keep myself peeled for future releases, as well. All thanks to Goodreads and free giveaways! Never hurts to enter, for you'll never know what you might win and discover.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Secret Keeper.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.