Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review: "The Secret Keeper"

Sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicholson sits in a treehouse dreaming of her new beau, ignoring the family birthday party celebrations going on not far from her.  Suddenly a strange man appears at their back door, and, feeling a sense of dread, she peers down to watch him.  As her mother approaches the man, Laurel witnesses a shocking crime that makes her question her mother's character.  The incident is never discussed in the family again, but Laurel is haunted by it the rest of her life.

Fifty years later, Laurel, now a successful actress, returns to the family farm in the English countryside along with her siblings to celebrate their mother's ninetieth birthday. Realizing her mother hasn't long to live, Laurel is determined to find out the truth of that fateful day.  As her mother drifts in and out of consciousness and from present to past, Laurel gently asks questions to evoke those long-buried memories.  Dorothy's answers come in bits and pieces, only arousing Laurel's curiosity even more:

"I made so many many mistakes." Her cheeks were moist with seeping tears.  "Love, Laurel, that's the only reason to get married. For love."

But what mistakes had Dorothy made? Laurel is sure her parents had a perfect marriage, and her own childhood was idyllic, surrounded by a loving family. With even more questions unanswered, Laurel begins to follow the few clues she has.  Her research leads her to delve into the lives of two other people who seemed to play an important role in Dorothy's past: her former beau Jimmy and good friend Vivien.  As Laurel unearths more and more information, she thinks she has come up with the secret from Dorothy's life during the London Blitz, but not even she is prepared for the surprising truth at the end.

Poppy seed heads--my garden might be called "the forgotten garden" by this time of year:)

I was first introduced to the writings of Kate Morton when a friend recommended The Forgotten Garden last year.  I loved it!  In some ways I preferred it to The Secret Keeper, but probably because I enjoyed the different time periods and the storyline of the first book. On the other hand, The Secret Keeper is a more satisfying read.  Like The Forgotten Garden, it deals with a family whose hidden secrets have affected them over several generations,  but this new novel is easier to follow. In both novels, Morton jumps from one time period to another, but Garden had so many settings that I found myself re-reading earlier parts to remember how the characters and time periods related.  In The Secret Keeper she is more successful at keeping the reader in suspense while at the same time not confusing the reader.  The ending was a total surprise to me, but I realized that all the details from the past suddenly made sense.

Part mystery, part historical fiction, and part family saga, these two books have me hooked on reading more of Kate Morton's works.  The Secret Keeper is sure to be another bestseller for her.

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy

After a summer hiatus, The Book Review Club is back to regular monthly meetings.  And as a reminder, I only review books I like, and I am never compensated in any way for books reviewed here.  My copy of The Secret Keeper came from my local library.


  1. Kate Morton's books are great fun. And almost always involve a secret or two.

  2. I have read all of Kate Morton's books since they were recommended to my be another blogging friend (she blogs as "Jen on the Edge"). I have enjoyed all of them!

  3. I haven't read any Kate Morton but your review makes me want to. Nice to see you back in the book club! Your garden looks lovely too.

  4. Sounds interesting. I love historical fiction.

  5. Sounds like a great one! I'm starting to compile a winter reading list. ;-)

  6. This review came at the right time. I need a new read. Have a great weekend.

  7. As it so happens I am listening to an audio book of The Forgotten Garden as we speak! I am quite enjoying it and plan to get The Secret Keeper from the library next. The Forgotten Garden does skip around in time, but maybe because I am listening to it, I find the jumps easy enough to follow. I am glad to hear that you like the second book Rose- it makes me look forward to the next book all the more.

  8. Very VERY intriguing! I must look for this book!

  9. That sounds good. I'm still hoping the library can get me The supremes at earl's diner!

  10. I've read all of Kate Morton's books Rose and enjoyed them especially the first which I think was called 'The House at Riverton'. Interesting to see how book covers and some times even titles change from this side of the big pond to the other and no doubt vice versa. Hope that life is treating you well and that you are enjoying your garden :)

  11. Jennifer, I really liked "The Forgotten Garden," and I hope I didn't put off anyone from reading it. My book club also read it, so we really analyzed it; the confusing details were very trivial anyway.

    Liz, I hope you can find "The Supremes"--such a fun read!

    Anna, Yes, it is interesting that book jackets are different in our countries. I've read good reviews of "The House at Riverton," so it's good to hear your recommendation, too. It's going on my reading list as well!

    Thanks all for visiting!

  12. This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I'm adding it to my "look for at the library" list right now! Thanks for the review and recommendation, Rose!

  13. Love the vegetable garden. I have finally lost the squash plants to powdery mildew. Oh well.


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.