Title: The Secret Keeper
Author: Kate Morton
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Laurel Nicholson is an actress whose career is still going strong well into her sixties. Her mother, Dorothy, has a ninetieth birthday coming up, and Laurel has decided the time has finally come for some answers. When Laurel was sixteen, she witnessed a crime her mother committed against a stranger who came to their house. Now, Laurel wants to know the truth about that day and how it related to her mother’s mysterious history during World War II.
The Secret Keeper is an interesting novel that takes place in two time periods: the present, with Laurel as a narrator, and the past, with Dorothy as the one telling the story. Dorothy’s story is set before and during World War II, and Morton really transports the reader to that time. Her descriptions are absolutely vivid and the reader really gets a sense of what it was like to be alive during that time period: the excitement, but also the fear and loneliness. Morton balances that story well with the one during the present day, and happily, both storylines are equally engaging.
Laurel is an easy character to like and sympathize with, but her mother Dorothy is a bit more difficult. That’s not to criticize Morton; she intended Dorothy to be willful and stubborn, and it shows from beginning to end. There were times I wanted to put the book down because Dorothy was so self-deluded, and though I realized that the character was supposed to be that way, it was still difficult to swallow at times and impaired my enjoyment of the reading experience.
One of the things that Morton does best is write atmospheric, breathtaking reads, and while The Secret Keeper is enjoyable, it doesn’t quite have that gothic atmosphere I’ve come to love in her novels. It does, however, have a gripping storyline, and while some readers may guess the twist at the end of the book and the answer behind the mystery, it still makes for an enjoyable reading experience from beginning to end.
The Secret Keeper is a long novel, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for an absorbing read with incredibly realistic, well-developed characters. The historical aspects of the novel are well thought out and impeccably described, so it really speaks to Morton’s talent that she managed to make both the storylines interesting. This wasn’t my favorite of Morton’s books, but it’s certainly thought-provoking and would make a great book club pick if your group isn’t opposed to longer readers.
Other books by Kate Morton: