Publication Date: 1st November 2012 (1st published 9th Oct)
Book Source: Allen & Unwin (ARC) & Edelweiss
Synopsis: 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've been a fan of Australian author Kate Morton since reading (and adoring) The Forgotten Garden and I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of her latest novel. A few chapters in I confess I struggled to stay focused as the narrative wandered off on what seemed like tangent after tangent. This isn't a book to read in small snippets, if you can invest a chunk of time to thoroughly immerse yourself in the story and just appreciate the meandering style I'd almost guarantee you'll be captivated.
In 1961 Laurel witnesses a shocking event, fast forward to 2011 and Laurel and her siblings are gathered for their mother Dorothy's last days and Laurel begins a search for answers to the mystery surrounding her mother's past and that traumatic event. It's a trek that takes readers from 1938 to the present day.
Dorothy, Jimmy and Vivien are the focus of the story in London during the Blitz, their fate is intricately entwined, they're intriguing characters and their story completely absorbing, I couldn't imagine how the threads would tie together and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out.
The time frames merge seamlessly and the multi-faceted plot lines are covered with intimate subtlety and elaborate detail (how is that even possible??) making this a truly special read.
So, guess what? Despite my early misgivings I wholeheartedly recommend The Secret Keeper if you love a complex tale of secrets and discovery.
Visit Kate Morton's website to find out more about this talented author and her work.
UK cover US cover