The Secret Keeper - Kate Morton
Released October 2012
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
To me, The Secret Keeper isn't just another run of the mill offering, this is a truly amazing piece of fiction that kept me guessing, and even then I didn't see the ending coming. It spans decades and shares the story of two women trying to make the most of the hand they've been dealt.
She's just 16 when Laurel Nicolson spies a strange man approach her mother and call her by name. Laurel is horrified when she sees her mother stab and kill that man. Police come and Laurel shares her account, but she leaves out the one detail that the man called her mother by name. This wasn't a random stranger, not the stranger police and family assumed he was.
Fifty years pass and Laurel, now an actress, returns to her family's farm for her ailing mother's 90th birthday. Laurel mother's memory is fading, and she often calls for people she knew long ago and never told her family about. Laurel decides now is the perfect time to unravel what really happened so many years ago. Looking through old pictures her mother had locked away is the first step into revealing her mother's hidden past.
Set in England in three time periods, The Secret Keeper flows effortlessly between past and present. The novel starts in the 1960s with Laurel witnessing the crime. For the rest of the book it switches between the WWII era and present day with the story focusing on either Laurel or her mother, Dorothy.
The setting itself reminded me of my mother's own childhood. She was young in WWII, but remembers things like food rations, and I've heard some stories of my grandmother's experience in Birmingham during the war with bombing occurring far too frequently. It wasn't until my own adult years that I learned of one bombing that broke open a wall so that the basement of a factory was flooded. A dance was being held that night for the workers in the basement and my grandmother at the last minute opted not to go. That decision saved her life.
The Secret Keeper presented a very emotional, gripping story that tops my list of memorable reads. This would make for excellent book discussions, especially as you try to unravel the truth alongside Laurel.