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.