The Secret Keeper
Publication date: October 9, 2012
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Why did it matter anyway? It was over. So long as Laurel didn’t pick too closely at its delicate threads, the tapestry hung together. The picture remained intact. At least it had done until now. Incredible, really, that after fifty years all it took was the return of an old photograph and the utterance of a woman’s name for the fabric of Laurel’s fiction to being unravelling.
Fifty years ago, Laurel watched her mother kill a man. It was deemed to be self-defense, but Laurel knew, even at the age of seventeen, that there was more to the story — the man knew her mother’s name — Dorothy — and her mother had recognized him as well. Now, as Dorothy’s last days are approaching, Laurel is determined to discover the rest of the story behind Henry Jenkins — the man Dorothy killed — and the mysterious Vivien who seems to be the connection between the two. Paralleling the story of Laurel’s search are the WWII-era events of Dorothy’s life as she struggles to reach her dreams, doing seemingly whatever it takes.
I adore Kate Morton’s ability to pull the reader into a story. I always end up feeling torn between rushing through it to fill in the gaps and find out what’s really happened, and inching my way through to savor the beautiful prose and the excitement and anticipation of the mystery. Some of the aspects of the past I had expected, but even with my suspicions, there were things that didn’t quite fit, which left me guessing and wondering how it all fit together all the way up until the end. The historical setting of this particular story — London during the Blitz of WWII — gives the reader a feeling of the every day lives of people during this time period without it becoming the center of the plot. In reading historical fiction, it’s good to remember that even as these life-changing events are happening, people are still living their lives and dealing with daily struggles as well. The emotional relationships within the story — the friendships, romances, and family love — were all portrayed with wonderful realism, flaws and all. The ending fit together like pieces in a puzzle, bringing together clues that the reader hadn’t even realized were there, and although bittersweet, tied up the book very nicely — although once I knew what had really happened, I did immediately want to re-read it to see what clues I had missed and experience it with the new knowledge I now had.
I found very few flaws in this book. Some of the current-day storyline did seem a bit slow at points, but only because I was so anxious to figure out what had happened in the past. At times the past (Dorothy’s) storyline would end in a cliffhanger, and the next chapter would be the present (Laurel’s) storyline, which would frustrate me to no end, but I suppose it served the purpose — to make me want to keep reading.
Overall: Another beautifully-crafted, emotionally intense, historical fiction novel full of secrets, mystery, and lost love. Possibly my favorite Kate Morton novel yet.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book!