Culture Street

Books

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

On November 25, 2012

By Sophia Whitfield

Kate Morton is the bestselling author of four books. The Shifting Fog (published internationally as The House at Riverton), The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours have sold over seven million copies in 32 languages, across 38 countries. The Secret Keeper, her fourth novel, has just been released.

The book opens in 1961 with a dramatic scene in rural England that leads to the exploration of past events. Laurel, a sixteen-year-old girl, witnesses a brutal murder that  haunts her for the rest of her life. Now, in 2011, as her mother lies dying, she must confront the events of the past.

As Laurel, now a famous actress in her sixties, delves into her families past, she becomes more uncertain of her mother’s innocence. Laurel was the only witness to the crime committed in 1961, as she lay sulking in the family treehouse. It was her testimony that exonerated her mother, but she left out one crucial detail.

As Laurel begins her research she discovers that during the London Blitz, in 1941, the lives of three close friends, Vivien, Jimmy and Dorothy, become fatefully intertwined as they work and live in a place rocked by the desolation and destruction of war.

Vivien, an orphan from Australia, is now married to a literary genius and has, at last, landed on her feet; Dorothy is desperate to elevate herself from the dregs of the working class to the finery of the upper classes. She looks to Vivien for direction. Jimmy is working class through and through with no desire to achieve anything better. Through their volunteer work they discover they have a commonality that draws them together. That is until the day Vivien slights Dorothy. Hurt and distraught, Dorothy hatches a plan for revenge recruiting Jimmy as her accomplice.

As Laurel explores the story further she begins to doubt her mother’s character. With a few exceptional twists in the plot, Morton unveils the secret at the centre of her story.

Although predominantly set in London, Morton does manage to sneak in one chapter set in the idyllic Tamborine Mountain, childhood home to Morton’s character Vivien and also to Morton. The chapter is full of vivid descriptions of an outdoor Australian life.

Brilliantly researched, this latest book from Kate Morton has a strong sense of time and place. Morton walks the reader through wartime London with finesse,

This is a book that will keep readers guessing right up until the end. Kate Morton fans will adore it and more fans will surely follow.

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