Friday, January 25, 2013

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The first Kate Morton book I read was The House at Riverton which I read as part of Barnes and Noble's First Look book club in January 2007.  It was a great read, reminiscent of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

In December I joined and one of my first selections was a Kate Morton book, The Secret Keeper.  I think everyone is a secret keeper in one way or another, but in this book we find that the many secrets overlap and come back to haunt the keepers eventually.

The Secret Keeper takes place in 1941, 1961, and 2011.  The central characters in 1941 are Dorothy (Dolly), Vivian, and Jimmy and takes place in England during the Blitz.  Dorothy is a young woman who moved to London to make her own way. Jimmy is her boyfriend, a photographer who takes pictures of what is happening to the city and the people.  Vivian who lives across the street from Dorothy, is a young woman of means, married to a famous writer.  Vivian and Dorothy volunteer at a war effort canteen and Dorothy is the companion of the rich old Lady who owns the house across from Vivienne.

In 1961, Dorothy's daughter, Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old.  She sneaks away from a family birthday party picnic and is daydreaming in her childhood treehouse, when she watches a strange man walking up the road to the farm.  She then watches as he speaks to Dorothy and then as Laurel watches as her mother stabs him with the cake knife she had come back to the house to retrieve.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful actress, living in London. When she returns to Green Acres Farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday, she is overwhelmed by memories of that day and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

As Laurel unravels the mystery of her mother and the stranger, Kate Morton draws the reader in with details of what it must have been like to live in London during that period of time and war.

The audio version, read by Caroline Lee, was incredible.  Caroline Lee's interpretation just added to the suspense and brought the characters to life.   

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