Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper is a complicated family story centered around wartime secrets. At just short of 500 pages, it is a substantial read that starts strongly when, on a summer’s day sometime in the 1960s teenager Laurel Nicolson becomes an unseen witness to a shocking incident involving her mother, Dorothy. Laurel is asked to keep the secret of what she has seen from her sisters and her younger brother in the first of a sequence of many further secrets.
Then, the action switches to 2011 and we find Dorothy now aged 90 and dying with Laurel becoming increasingly determined to unravel the mysteries of her mother’s past.
Laurel enlists her younger brother, Gerry, to help in the search. The action alternates between wartime London and 2011 as the story unfolds and at times it seems that Morton provides too much unnecessary description and detail along the way with the result that pace flags here and there but readers who stick with it fill find that many loose ends and apparently unrelated detail do come into play later in the story. The more Laurel uncovers, the more she becomes intrigued by Dorothy’s connections to Vivien Jenkins, Vivien’s husband Henry, and Jimmy Metcalfe and it is the complicated connection between these characters that forms the heart of the novel.
In the end, The Secret Keeper finishes strongly with some surprising twists that may prompt readers to revisit earlier sections of the story in search of clues they may have missed along the way.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton is published by Atria Books. ISBN-10: 1439152802 ISBN-13: 9781439152805