The Secret Keeper
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
When Laurel Nicolson was sixteen years old, she witnessed her mother Dorothy commit a shocking crime. Now some fifty years later Dorothy is dying, and Laurel is determined to uncover the truth about what really happened on that fateful day. Gradually, as if piecing together a complicated jigsaw puzzle, Laurel begins to learn more about her Mother and her secretive past. At the beginning of the book I thought it was going to be Laurel’s story we would discover and that she was the secret keeper of the title. It soon became apparent though, that the biggest secrets lay with Dorothy and that this is her story.
With a taste for the dramatic, Dorothy left home at an early age and began working for Lady Gwendolyn Caldicott in London. Her boyfriend, Jimmy Metcalfe, is also working in London as a war photographer, and they plan to get married as soon as Jimmy has saved enough money. During her time with Lady Caldicott, Dorothy meets Vivien Jenkins, the wealthy wife of the novelist Henry Jenkins. Dorothy believes that she and Vivien are friends, but when Vivien claims not to know Dorothy at all, Dorothy is mortified. She hatches a plan to teach Vivien a lesson, begging Jimmy to help her. The plan goes wrong though, and when Henry becomes suspicious, disaster looms.
To say any more would be to ruin the suspense. Suffice to say that Kate Morton is a master of tension-building, unfolding the story layer by layer until the final dramatic conclusion. Her books twist and turn like a labyrinth, making them utterly compelling and totally addictive.
Alternating between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a book about life-long secrets, memory, family and second chances. Anyone who loved Ian McEwen’s Atonement or Morton’sfirst book The Shifting Fog will love this book.
So in very exciting news, I have been asked to edit two extracts of novels written for the Year of the Novel course at the New South Wales Writers Centre. The students are compiling an anthology of their work which will be launched at the Writers Centre on Tuesday 27th November. I will be working with two young Australian writers, Sheila Pham and Julie Janson. Sheila’s novel is about a Vietnamese refugee family newly settled in Australia. Sheila has already published a play called Hearing Voices, and last month it was performed as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. Julie’s novel tells the story of Amy, a young part-Aboriginal, single mother who travels to the Northern Territory to take up a teaching position. I am super excited about this opportunity and I’m loving what I’ve read so far.
5o Classic Books to Read in Five Years.
I have decided to join the people over at The Classics Club and have pledged to read 50 classic books in five years. This seemed like a wonderful incentive to encourage me to read more of the classics. Once finished reading a book I will post a review on my blog. Here’s my list which I am very excited about, and I think is rather eclectic:
- Emma – Jane Austen *
- Persuasion – Jane Austen *
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen *
- Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen *
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte *
- Villete – Charlotte Bronte
- The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler *
- The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
- David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
- The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
- Middlemarch – George Elliot
- As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
- A Passage to India – E.M. Forster *
- Howard’s End – E.M. Forster
- Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell
- The Princess Bride – William Goldman
- The Quiet American – Graham Greene
- Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
- The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
- Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
- Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
- The Wings of the Dove – Henry James
Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally read my review here
- On the Road – Jack Kerouac
- One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest – Ken Kessey
- The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
- A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
- The Painted Veil – Somerset Maugham
- Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
- Love in a Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford
- Beloved – Toni Morrison
- Animal Farm – George Orwell
- The Harp in the South– Ruth Park
- Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
- Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
- Heidi – Johanna Spyri
- Dracula – Bram Stoker
- Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
- The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkein *
- A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
- Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne read my review here
- The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
- Scoop – Evelyn Waugh
- The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
- Swiss Family Robinson – Johann David Wyss
*Denotes a book which I am re-reading.
Challenge Start Date:
8th October 2012
Challenge Finish Date:
8th October 2017
Whew, that’s alot of books! Wish me luck – I think I’m going to need it!