Thursday, February 7, 2013


Hardcover, 481 pages
Published October 9, 2012 by Atria
Genre: historical fiction, mystery, romance, women's fiction, contemporary novel, World War II
Rating: 4.5 stars

There were moments, Laurel solemnly believed, in which a person reached a crossroads, when something happened, out of the blue, to change the course of life’s events.” 

Rural England, summer of 1961. 
Sixteen year old Laurel Nicolson was hiding in her tree house, happily daydreaming about becoming an actress, when she caught sight of a stranger approaching the family farmhouse and talking to her mother as if he knew her. What her innocent eyes had to witness right after that scene was a terrible crime. Her lovely, nearly perfect mother killed that man: as Dorothy Nicolson explained to the police afterward, she was simply trying to defend herself and her toddler son from the violent attack of an intruder, but Laurel saw exactly what happened. Dorothy seemed to be  frightened by the man, but she apparently knew him. Laurel had been too young then to question her mother’s behavior and understand how a sweet woman like Dorothy Nicolson could bring herself to commit such a crime. Little did she know that her mother harbored a secret and that the man she killed was threatening to bring her past back home to haunt her. 

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful actress, but the sense of restlessness that followed the tragic events of that summer never abandoned her. A family gathering to celebrate her mother’s ninetieth birthday will become the occasion for the actress to finally find the answers to questions that had been haunting her family for decades.  “Deception” may be her profession, but as the only witness of that shocking crime, Laurel feels a pressing need to fully abide by the truth, even if that means picking at the delicate threads of a family tapestry that her mother had struggled to preserve intact. Laurel will dig into Dorothy’s past to uncover the truth and what she will find behind the painted veil of her mother’s picture-perfect life is heart-wrenching beyond words.

Engrossing doesn’t even begin to describe the quality of this sophisticated historical novel by New York Times best selling author Kate Morton. The writing technique, with its frequent chronological shifts between 1961 Suffolk, 1941 London bombings and present day, matches the emotional intensity of the well-crafted storyline: under the deforming lenses of war memories, the Australian author wove an unforgettable canvas of secrets, deception and regrets, tense love stories, forged friendships and dysfunctional relationships, hiding a trail of clues behind rich and evocative descriptions of a time in history that changed things and people in its overwhelming tide of death and grief. Despite the overall lengthiness and sometimes painstakingly accurate narrative style, I enjoyed this memorable and fascinating tale of love and deception. The Secret Keeper definitely features all the timeless qualities of a masterpiece.

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