Rural England, 1961.
Sixteen year old Laurel Nicolson was hiding in her tree house, happily daydreaming about becoming an actress, when she caught sight of a stranger approaching the family farmhouse and talking to her mother as if he knew her. Laurel’s lovely, nearly perfect mother killed that man in front of her eyes. Dorothy Nicolson, Laurel’s mother, explained to the police afterward that she was simply trying to defend herself and her toddler son from the violent attack of an intruder, but Laurel saw exactly what happened. Dorothy seemed to be frightened by the man, but she apparently knew him. Laurel was too young to question her mother’s behavior and understand how a sweet woman like Dorothy Nicolson could bring herself to commit such a crime. Little did she know that her mother harbored a secret and that the man she killed was threatening to bring her past back home to haunt her.
Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful actress, but the sense of restlessness that followed the tragic events of that summer never abandoned her. A family gathering to celebrate her mother’s ninetieth birthday presents an occasion for the actress to finally find the answers to questions that have been haunting her family for decades. Deception may be her profession, but as the only witness of a shocking crime, Laurel feels a pressing need to fully abide by the truth, even if that means picking at the delicate threads of a family tapestry that her mother had struggled to preserve intact. Laurel will dig into Dorothy’s past to uncover the truth and what she will find behind the painted veil of her mother’s picture-perfect life is heart-wrenching beyond words.
Engrossing doesn’t even begin to describe the quality of this sophisticated historical novel by New York Times best-selling author Kate Morton. The writing technique, with its frequent chronological shifts between 1961 Suffolk, the 1941 London bombings and the present day, matches the emotional intensity of the well-crafted storyline. Morton weaves an unforgettable canvas of secrets, deceptions and regrets, tense love stories, forged friendships and dysfunctional relationships.
The Verdict: Despite the overall lengthiness and sometimes painstakingly accurate narrative style, I enjoyed this memorable and fascinating tale of love and deception. The Secret Keeper definitely features all the timeless qualities of a masterpiece.
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Author: Kate Morton