On a scorching summer’s day in 1961, 16-year-old Laurel is the only witness to a shocking crime that will shake the foundations of her beliefs forever. Fast forward 40 years and Laurel, sitting at her dying mother’s bedside, struggles to reconcile the events of that fateful day with the loving family she has always known – before the truth is lost forever.
The story stretches from 1940’s London, when England is caught up in the midst of The Blitz, to a rural family home in 2011. To say goodbye to her mother, Laurel must try to piece together a mystery seventy years old and in doing so, will find herself immersed in the lives of Dorothy, Jimmy and Vivian, whose paths will collide with devastating and far reaching effects.
I’ve read all of Kate Morton’s previous novels and really enjoyed them, but I’m also well aware that this type of novel – which combines multiple threads set in different periods of history working their way towards a dramatic revelation and family resolution at the end of the novel – is in danger of becoming a generic fallback format for authors writing in this genre. However, in The Secret Keeper, Kate Morton has managed to take this type of novel and somehow make it seem fresh, new and exciting.
I actually listened to this as an audiobook and thought it really worked in this format. The narrator, Caroline Lee did a really good job of maintaining a sense of urgency and interest despite the fact that the recording was nearly 20 hours long.
The big twist at the end of this novel was one that I really didn’t see coming, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it long after I’d finished the book. Also with this style of novel, I tend to have a ‘favourite’ thread, and can sometimes come to resent chunks of the novel set outside of that time or away from those characters. This didn’t happen this time. I enjoyed every strand of this book equally and I actually slowed down towards the end because I wanted to stay in the world that Morton had created for just that little bit longer.