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During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside sixteen year old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him Before the afternoon is over Laurel will witness a shocking crime A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother Dorothy—her vivacious loving nearly perfect motherNow fifty years later Laurel is a successful and well regarded actress living in London The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday Realizing that this may be her last chance Laurel searches for answers to the uestions that still haunt her from that long ago day answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s pastDorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz to the ’60s and beyond It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy Vivien and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected conseuences they sometimes bring It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world


10 thoughts on “The Secret Keeper

  1. says:

    I had this mystery figured out at least five different times throughout the book Because I'm smart like that But then new information came to light so I had to change my mind I did get one major part right but I completely missed the big shocker Wow Typical Kate Morton style there are double meanings in the sentence structure Additionally Morton is gifted in her transitions Different time periods and different points of view left me hanging at the end of each chapter but only a short while but kept me reading Slow starting after the initial shocker in the first chapter but impossible to put down once I was in the rhythm


  2. says:

    No spoilers I promise Which means I won't go into much plot detail In 1961 when Laurel Nicolson was sixteen she witnessed a shocking event She and her mother were the only ones who knew the truth and they never spoke of it Fast forward to 2011 Laurel is a famous actress in her sixties and her mother Dorothy is dying Before her mother dies Laurel wants to uncover the roots of that long ago shocking event Her investigation takes her back to the London of 1941 when her mother was young and impulsive and full of secret plans The story alternates between 2011 and 1941 following Laurel's discoveries about the mother she thought she knew Kate Morton has a wild imagination and the heart of a romantic She creates intricately plotted stories full of tragedy and betrayal and lost loves and second chances Her characters are colorful and they'll always trip you up as you stumble over their secrets I wouldn't say Morton's novels are formulaic but they do all follow a similar pattern Present day characters run across a clue or two that makes them suddenly keen to delve into their family history about which they were heretofore strangely incurious Things always fall into place for these characters as they trek into the past Photographs are found with cryptic inscriptions on the back Old letters and postcards drop from the pages of forgotten books There is always at least one person from the old days who is still alive and can point the seeker in the right direction And mirabile dictusomeone kept a journal That journal always reads like a novel and happens to contain all the info that couldn't have been obtained elsewhere Am I making fun of Kate Morton? Well maybe but only a little She's a clever lady who provides many happy hours of escape reading for her fans You have to go into it knowing it's going to be farfetched and just enjoy the whole crazy convoluted confection So why only three stars for THE SECRET KEEPER? #1Morton develops her characters by going off on tangents Long tangents sometimes taking up an entire chapter When she gets back on track you've lost the thread of the plot #2Lots of unnecessary scenes apparently meant for atmosphere but to me they're just clutter I fear Morton is going to lose some impatient readers because you have to get all the way to the halfway mark of THE SECRET KEEPER before it gains any momentum And even then it drags uite a bit in some spots #3Morton places too much emphasis on the romantic aspects of her stories I prefer the least you need to know about the mushy stuff and get on with the mystery I had the same problem with THE HOUSE AT RIVERTONHere's my record so far with Kate Morton's books The Forgotten Garden 5 starsThe House at Riverton 35 starsThe Distant Hours 1 starIf your record looks better than that you're going to love this one too


  3. says:

    The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton is a 2012 Atria publication When Laurel Nicolson was sixteen years old she witnessed her mother Dorothy stab a man to death The man was a stranger but he seemed to know her mother and she seemed to recognize him too The matter was ruled self defense and no charges were filed Now decades later after enjoying much success as an actress Laurel returns home to celebrate her mother’s ninetieth birthday With her mother’s descent into dementia becoming prominent Laurel knows that if she is ever to discover the truth about what happened that fateful day all those years ago if she ever was to experience closure and peace about an incident that has haunted her for fifty years she had to act now before it was too late As Laurel begins her investigation she is taken on a journey that spanned from pre world war two England through the 1960’s Laurel will learn things about her mother’s past she never could have imagined as puzzling personality traits clash with the woman Laurel thought she knew Bit by bit the pieces of a complex puzzle begin to fit into place as stunning secrets come to light that will leave the reader stunned bemused and even delightedThis book has been on my radar for years however it kept slipping down the TBR pile But in all honesty I think I let it sit and gather dust for a time because Kate Morton is not prolific or an author given to mass production Her books are always very special so I like the idea of having one of her novels around that I haven’t read yet saving it for a rainy day if you will After it was recently announced that Morton had a new book coming out soon in celebration I decided to treat myself Naturally it was worth the wait but I’m glad I finally gave in and succumbed to Morton’s mesmerizing prose as she weaves this spellbinding and riveting tale of history love friendship and family Secrets are my favorite I love stories with lots of secrets The reasons why the characters kept the secrets why people want or need to know them and what impact those secrets will have on the characters once they are exposed is always fascinating to me In this instance family secrets are at the center of the story and boy are they juicy What an incredible storyDorothy’s parents are killed in the blitz and she takes a job as the caretaker of a very wealthy woman who hints to Dorothy that she might be remembered in her will Meanwhile Dorothy becomes engaged to Jimmy a talented photographer and befriends a neighbor named Vivien But all of Dorothy’s plans cave inward when she believes Vivien has betrayed her which prompts her to obsessively seek revenge on her But as is often the case her carefully crafted but mean spirited plan backfires horrifically From that moment on Dorothy begins to harbor a host of incredible secrets that someday her daughter Laurel will discover Secrets that will shift the axis of Laurel’s universe and mine too just a little bit As always Morton’s storytelling is brilliant The historical sections of the story are absolutely riveting and so absorbing I felt like I was actually there watching events unfold in real time The characters are very well drawn and I have to confess I have a big soft spot for Jimmy I never imagined the story would take so many unexpected turns that the characters would make the choices they did or why they would make them All I can say is I couldn’t have asked for I loved every single second of this journey The only downside was that the ending came entirely too soon 5 stars


  4. says:

    Read This Review More Like It On My BlogI love this book wholeheartedly Kate Morton rocketed to my absolute favorite author list last year on the strength of The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden but this latest novel absolutely cements and guarantees her continued place there The Secret Keeper blew my mind Honestly it might even rival The Distant Hours for my all time favorite Kate Morton and mystery novel It's just that good great; it's of what Kate Morton does so very very well All the time taken and careful preparations of the plot scene characters clearly show and add up to make this novel a compulsive read filled with vibrant and flawed characters I wanted to stretch out my reading experience it's one of those few times when 480 pages seems like too little for a novel rather than a good size For all my restraint and desire to keep this going as long as possible I inhaled this novel in 14 hours eight of which I was sleeping An impressive fourth novel from a very talented author fans and newcomers alike will eat The Secret Keeper upWhen I first started this I was sure I was going to like it but it didn't immediately grab me the way her first two novels had I was curious and intrigued where the multiple plotlines across various periods of time would eventually go but it wasn't until about 100 pages in that I was truly gripped and aware that I was reading something truly special The tension slowly builds as main character Laurel uncovers and about her mother's life before children and marriage evoking both intensity and curiosity as her revelations show a very different woman than the mother she had known her whole life The shifting perspectives of various characters Laurel her mother Dorothy and a woman named Vivien from 1941 to 1961 to 2011 allow for a wide view of the plot across the many eras that impact the story The merging of the different plotlines and timeliness works so well under this author's capable hands I did not want to put this down to eat to sleep or anything It's hard to write this review because the reveal and payout are so rewarding and I don't want go give anything ANYTHING away that might spoil the deft authorial sleight of hand that Morton has going I had high hopes going into reading The Secret Keeper and if anything this book exceeded any and all expectations I had for it Morton's obvious and immense talent for prose for setting and for crafting such realistic concrete characters to operate upon the page alive in all their wishes hopes pasts flaws and mistakes marks her as one of the best authors I have ever had the pleasure to read With twists and turns and huge reveals that I never predicted and never once came off as hackneyed this is an author that continually proves she knows how to write a story as well as a truly mystifying mystery An impressive storyteller with talent across the board including an all too rare talent for subtlety and foreshadowing her latest novel is heavy on detail inner observations and contemplation but is never slow or boring Themes of unexpected conseuences and desire are explored with caution and care further adding to the complicated plot of the novel With one of the top three best endings I've ever had the surprise of reading The Secret Keeper is thoroughly satisfying and totally unpredictable Kate Morton is amazing I am a huge fan and I won't let too much time go before I dig into the only novel of hers I've yet to read The House at Riverton Her style is uniuely her own and her ability to create such detailed well characterized novels truly sets her above most other authors Nuanced emotionally involving original and completely wonderful The Secret Keeper further proves that my fangirling extreme love for Kate Morton's novels is than founded it's necessary I haven't had such a strong reaction to a novel in far too long; I cared intensely about the characters I was caught up in every timeline shown This is an author who will be a favorite for a long long time I can only hope that a fifth novel is on the horizon for this immensely talented writer


  5. says:

    35 stars for this dual timeline historic novel with an emphasis on WWII era London Laurel has never gotten over seeing her mother stab and kill a man with their birthday cake knife Tied with a red bow I will never look at birthday cake knives the same way again when Laurel was 16 years old Her mother never really explained the killing to Laurel other than the explanation she gave the police which Laurel knows isn't true and Laurel never asked her mother about it Now Laurel is much older her mother is dying and something seems to be weighing on her mind and Laurel decides she needs to Solve the Mystery of her mother's life and find out what caused the murderThere is a lot of jumping back and forth in time in this book between 2011 and WWII era times in England during the Blitz with several scenes from other time periods thrown in for good measure but it wasn't overly confusing I'm no WWII expert but the historical scenes seemed well researched and realistic My main problem with this book was that I didn't really care a whole lot about Laurel and worse yet I gradually grew to actively dislike Dolly the main character from the WWII scenes This is a problem when a good chunk of the book is written from Dolly's perspective if you're a reader who needs a main character that's sympathetic About the time Dolly really started to irritate me though the historic story lines switched to other characters' POVs and so with a sigh of relief I soldiered on and finished the bookWhen the mystery gets resolved in the end it was both surprising even though I was keeping my eyes out for a twist and satisfying A worthwhile read if you like historic fiction


  6. says:

    ALL THE STARS Every single one of them The Secret Keeper is a story of love; of family and friendships and human nature and perseverance Set during the Blitz of WWII and present day the alternating timelines told from different characters are woven so beautifully and intricately to create the perfect story and mystery No one and I mean NO ONE does family secrets like Kate Morton It is no secret that I am a huge fan of hers Her stories are so well developed and beautiful her characters stick with you for a very long time And the language She writes so beautifully you can't help but get swept away with her words This was my last unread Kate Morton novel I had it tucked away for a rainy day because I was sad at the thought of having no of her stories to hear At almost 500 pages some critics will say that it is too long winded however I feel the opposite I feel that every word was necessary to create this incredible tale I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to learn what happened in the mystery And it was SO worth it Highly highly recommend


  7. says:

    In the review of the last Kate Morton book I've read The Distant Hours I had complained about how I couldn't get a good grip on the characters and felt rather underwhelmed by their character traits This time I felt the complete oppositeI loved everyone involved in the story This book was even character driven than her others Of course there were several events happening and I really liked the overall plot but the focus was on developing believable characters with strong personalities and a compelling life and the author definitely succeeded in doing that Everyone just seemed so realat the end I actually had to remind myself that this is all just made up and did not actually happenI figured out a possible solution to the mystery about halfway through the novel which at the end proved to be correct However Mrs Morton has a way of writing that keeps up the suspense and makes you change your mind on what might happen all the time I kept on guessing and guessing and came up with different solutions constantly I often thought I had figured everything out but then the story took a different direction than I expected and I changed my mind againThe writing style was consistent throughout; I never felt bored or like things were too drawn out The changes between the different time periods were done very well and felt connected to each otherI don't really know what else I can say besides that this was a wonderful book that brought me a huge amount of joy and kept me entertained the whole time I was reading it


  8. says:

    A family saga of broad scope this was an interesting story Part mystery part adventure part romance part war story and all heart This book is told in 4 parts – Laurel Dolly Vivien and Dorothy However there is a crossover in characters throughout and the time frame moves between the war years from 1939 through 1941 and the year of 2011 There are bits and pieces involving other characters and other time frames but they exist only to set up or clarify these main characters and timesThe mystery begins when Laurel the oldest of 4 girls and a boy witnesses a shocking incident from her hiding spot in the family treehouse when she is sixteen years old Many years later with their mother aged into her 90’s and dying Laurel feels compelled to discover how various subtle clues in the family’s history link to that time Her need to know leads her on travels to visit people to archives of information and to her family’s attic where an old trunk opens to reveal puzzlesI thoroughly enjoyed this story and although earlier on I had accurately guessed at a fairly big reveal I certainly did not know all the details or how it all came about The one critiue I will offer is that in the first two parts I felt I was invited too often and too deeply into some of the character’s thoughts I would have liked to have discovered about them without being present in their heads uite so much On the other hand in the last two parts I was treated to subtlety and my mind could dwell on possibilitiesThis is not a one afternoon type of read You can expect to spend upwards of 10 hours solid reading altogether and that may not include time spent shedding a few tears and locating tissues but it is worth the time spent This is a well plotted novel with many threads to it – and all of them are drawn into the overall tapestry by the end I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the combination of genres I mentioned in my second sentence and is willing to spend time getting to know a large cast of characters their families and how they weathered some tough times together45 Stars


  9. says:

    Going back and forth in timelines of 1941 1961 and 2011 this was a story full of dark secrets ambition jealousy and forgiveness I will write a proper review for this later


  10. says:

    Ever since I read my first book by Kate Morton I've been keen to read all her others This month I went with The Secret Keeper since I tend to love books where there's a secret buried somewhere that must come out despite every intent to bury it years ago I was thrilled with the novel and can't wait to take on the next oneThe book takes place over a period of 60 years focusing for the most part on Dorothy Dolly and daughter Laurel We see snapshots of their lives while Laurel tries to unravel the mystery of a childhood incident where she's certain she saw her mother stab a stranger We see the perspective of a few other characters who interacted with Dolly when she was younger as well as Laurel's three sisters and one brother It all comes together in a surprising conclusion where readers are forced to decide how we feel about an event that can be seen from many different anglesMorton is the best at weaving together a story full of so many different side stories you can never tell which will be the significant one to change the entire ending or plot arc to capture your shock As this one moved along I enjoyed the lyrical prose tense dialog well drawn characters and thrilling descriptions About 75% through when I thought I'd figured most of it out I was feeling a bit disappointed It was good but that shock factor didn't emerge as powerfully as I'd hoped A few chapters later in the most unusual place I thought I saw an error I re read the passage twice then realized Oh here's that crazy twist And what a fantastic one it was At that point my opinion on the book shot up from a 4 to a 45 I would love to give it 5 stars and it's close but there were a few moments of repetition and slowness that held me back By no means did it make me want to put it down and wait days before reading again It just didn't force me to stay up super late but that's okay sleep is needed too Overall the story is very enthralling on many levels You've got a backdrop of war then modern social media times You've got a mother who might or might not be lying or be a killer As you read the historical portions you can't decide which of two girls is the one to believe It keeps you going to the point you almost think they're both lying but which is the most pertinent among all the confusion?Above all the plot and story the settings are among the most gorgeous and captivating as any I've ever read before Morton can describe the simplest things in the most complex terms but it still makes me yearn for I never think ugh she's completely overdone it but there are times when I would be okay with a few less words if it's not ultimately important to the detail of the story It's a fine line and in 98% of the cases she's spot onIf you've never read her work this is a good one but I'd start with The Forgotten Garden then come to this one I've two left to read of hers then I'll probably have to wait a year for the next to be published Oh well sometimes patience is a good thing