Kate Morton, best-selling author of “The Distant Hours,” “The House at Riverton” and “The Forgotten Garden” once again explores long-concealed family secrets in her latest novel, “The Secret Keeper.”
Dorothy Nicolson lies ill. Her children gather round her to celebrate her ninetieth birthday, even as they know their mother is slipping from them. The occasion prompts her eldest daughter Laurel, a noted actress, to realize this might be the last time she can find answers to events that have haunted her for fifty years.
As a teenager, Laurel had watched in shock as her mother blithely stabbed a strange man who had walked onto the family farm. The crime was deemed one of self-defense, but Laurel has always suspected that there was more to the story.
In her mind. . . their mother had come into being when she answered Grandma’s newspaper advertisement for a maid of all work and started at the boarding house. . . . As to the details of Dorothy’s life before she met Stephen Nicolson, though, she’d never forced them on her children and they hadn’t thought to ask. Nothing odd in that, Laurel supposed with mild discomfort. Children don’t require of their parents a past, and they find something faintly unbelievable, almost embarrassing, in parental claims to a prior existence.
Laurel’s search goes back to the war-torn London, where Dorothy’s life is inseparable from the lives of Jimmy, the budding young photographer she is in love with and Vivien, a beautiful young socialite she aspires to know better. The interwoven paths of these three young people are so inextricably knotted that it seems that Laurel will never uncover the secrets that bound the trio together.
Laurel had been thinking a lot lately about secrets, about how difficult they were to keep, and the habit they had of lurking quietly beneath the surface before sneaking all of a sudden through a crack in their keeper’s resolve.
“The Secret Keeper” is a satisfying mystery that touches on the big themes of family, friendship, and deception. Morton weaves her intiguing tale in stages, alternately revisiting the chaotic years of the Blitz and returning to the England of 2011 as the secrets that led to the murder of a man who seemed a perfect stranger are exposed one by one. It’s no secret that Kate Morton’s growing legion of fans will find “The Secret Keeper” a riveting read.
“The Secret Keeper” is available at amazon.com and at your favorite New York bookstores.