Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: 'The Secret Keeper' by Kate Morton

Pages: 592
Edition: Hardcover
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: November 2012
RRP: $35.00
I received it from the publisher.

1961: On a sweltering summer's day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can't wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds - Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy - who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

I make it no secret that I'm a big fan of Kate Morton's writing. If someone were to ask me who my favourite author was - And, that truly is a terribly hard decision - it is very likely that I might say Kate Morton. As usual with any author I admire, the book had been placed on a pedestal from the moment I knew it was being written. And, why I may have lost faith for a little while there in the middle, those last few chapters pieced everything together and proved 'The Secret Keeper' to be up there with the rest of Kate's novels.

The thing about Morton's books is that they are the sort of  books you will want to take your time with. They are the sorts of books that are so full of information and description that quiet and isolation is desired. And, her books are tombs. They are dense tombs that generally take a lot of time to read. While I really enjoyed 'The Secret Keeper', I must warn you that it may take a few weeks to read (unless you're like way smarter than me and don't have a life).

One of the things I enjoy about this author's novels are the characters. In 'The Secret Keeper' the reader is subjected to the perspective of a few different characters (written in third person, though) and as the story changes, the reader's perception of the characters changes as well. I felt that I could relate to each character in a different way and was surprised at how quickly my opinion of a character could be changed.

Laurel is an actress who's taking a break to figure out the family mystery. She's one of the first characters you really get to know in a book, and my opinion of her never changed. I liked Laurel. She's the sort of accomplished, kind person I think we all aspire to be. I liked that even though Laurel found out some horrible half-truths that she never doubted her mother, And, that she was able to accept the shocking (but not-so-horrible) truth when the time came (it tends to bother me when characters jump up and down about "how dare you keep this from me" even if they have a right to).

Dolly (or rather Dorothy) is Laurel's mother. We meet her in the present, in the 1960s and in the 1930s. Dorothy is a character that has her heart in the right place, but you can tell she's got issues. She is a bit obsessive and it's a bit disturbing. But, she changes over the years and it becomes forgivable. Like I said her heart is in the right place.

Jimmy is Dolly's fiance during the war. I felt the most sympathy for this man, because of what happened to him.

And, Vivien, a character I began hating, slowly proved herself to be worthy.

Dolly, Jimmy and Vivien cross each others paths over the years (sometimes without even knowing it). Even after death, pieces of memorabilia and family members continue to make their way into each others lives in the the smallest, but most charming ways. I really like this author's ability to connect the characters in her novels in more ways than one; it really is a small world in a Kate Morton novel.

Like I said in the introduction, I did get lost a bit in the middle of the book. I wasn't lost in the story at all or with the facts, but I just felt like it had gone to a bad place where no good could come of it. I had really lost faith in some of the characters and thought the ending was going to be something quite tragic and Shakespearean. Something along the lines of 'Macbeth' maybe? which is funny seeing as 'Macbeth' is somewhat a part of Laurel's acting career. But, as usual the author was able to turn it around, in the last few chapters. I was able to believe in the characters again. And, then the actual ending happened, And, WOW, What an Ending!

While the majority of the ends were tied up, I felt that there were still a few unanswered questions in the story. Nothing I could really reveal here (hello spoilers), but small quizzical things that will keep me thinking for a while, which I guess is a good quality in a book. Especially a mysterious one like this.

Overall, I really really really really really liked it. Which is typical of me with a Kate Morton book. I think this book is worth 5/5 stars and a favourite (no surprise there) and I'm already impatiently waiting for another book by this author to make its way into my post office box  (probably in a year or so). I think it was just awesome (excuse the dribble) and that I'd love to know what happens to the younger generations in her books.

As you can see I own all the Kate Morton books so far. I've read all of them, but I have only written two reviews, because I read two of the books before I started doing reviews on my blog. And, yes I have considered rereading those two books just so I can review them properly, so that I will have reviews of them on my blog.

-'The Shifting Fog' (Also known as 'The House at Riverton')
My Review
-'The Forgotten Gardern'
-'The Distant Hours'
-'The Secret Keeper (This Review)

Your Favourite Blogger,

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Great review! I absolutely agree one hundred percent with "getting lost in the middle". I almost lost faith in this book and just wanted to put it down but I kept going and once again 5/5 for me too, lol :) Kate Morton is a wonderful writer and she has yet to disappoint me with any of her books!