The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

This book falls firmly into the ‘Much more Substantial’ category here on Frothy Reads, both in size and tone. It’s nice to get your teeth into something with a bit more scope occasionally and this one kept me busy for a week over the holidays. As a teen in the 1960s, Lauren was sitting in her tree house dreaming of boys when she witnessed her mother murder a strange man in the garden. In the present day Lauren and her siblings are seeing their mother, Dorothy, begin to fade away and try to solve the mystery of that hot summer day. Gradually the story unfolds through flashbacks to the 1940s and Lauren’s present day sleuthing. Dorothy escaped her stifling upbringing and came to work in London during World War 2, joining her sweetheart Jimmy, where they planned their ideal future with a house in the country and lots of children. Photographer Jimmy struggled to keep Dorothy’s feet on the ground and make ends meet for him and his ailing father, while saving for his future with Dorothy and documenting the horrors of war-time London.

Kooks for your Kindle?– This book contains the kind of characters that stick with you even after you’ve finished the book. Lauren is an acclaimed actress whose early love of theatre is glimpsed in her 1960s flashback. Now in her sixties she has the time, means, and inclination to look into that fateful day and the identity of the man killed by her mother. I particularly enjoyed her differing relationships with each of her siblings; including generous Rose, academic Gerry, and self-absorbed Daphne. Dorothy is a complex woman, but to say more might spoil the ending! There are some gems, Dorothy’s father is a 1930s classic, the regimented annual week at the beach, pompously declaring “Father knows best”.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– There are none of those indecisive disaster-magnet types in this book, give it a try for a break from the usual chick-lit heroines.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– I like to think of historical fiction as the literary equivalent of sneaking vegetables into a kid’s diet; I can learn things without feeling like I’m studying. The flashback portions of the book are an insight into those times, the terror of living in London during the blitz is vividly depicted. The 1960s is only briefly visited at the beginning for the murder scene but so much is illustrated; the languid, hot, post-war English countryside in summer; the end of rationing but not the mind-set; the new age of pirate radio and the music to go with it; a girl becoming a teen, discovering boys and outgrowing her younger siblings.

Evaluation of your eBook?– The structure of this book was interesting. Mostly set in the present, it weaves together various points around 1930s-1940s, unfolding as Lauren discovers things in the present. This sounds disjointed and out of sequence but is not at all; it’s cleverly constructed to reveal the truth gradually and maintain the suspense. The central mystery is well fleshed out with many characters and their stories, creating an absorbing world to lose yourself in. Thoroughly recommended, a bargain price for the UK market, and even the US price is reasonable for the size and quality of the book.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for only £1.99, Waterstones for £8.79, or £6.98 at WHSmith.

US: Kobobooks for $10.89icon, Amazon for $12.99, and ebooks for
$14.49