The Secret Keeper: Book summary and reviews of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper

By Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2013,
    496 pages.

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Book Summary

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy's ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds - Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy - who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told - in Morton's signature style - against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Published in hardcover: Oct 2012

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about The Secret Keeper. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

After a dramatic opening....
No. I didn't really think it was going in a different direction. I think it was a great opening for the story then to develop. I did assume that there would be some closure as to why the man was stabbed. - JulieAB

Did jealousy play a big part in this book? Why? With whom?
Perhaps not so much jealousy as possessiveness, if there even is much of a distinction. Dorothy boldly seduces Jimmy, and then takes him for granted. She has conquered him; he is hers. In a similar way, Dorothy sets out to seduce Vivien with a focus ... - dianec

Did you find any moral ambiguity in Dorothy's behavior?
I agree with Kimk... It was an instinctive reaction to protect her baby. - Terry R

Did you prefer following Laurel’s story or the stories surrounding Dorothy, Jimmy and Vivien?
I always liked the chapters where I learned more of the story thru the eyes of Vivian/Dorothy/Jimmy. I liked how their different perspectives all melded together. - johannam

Did you see the ending coming?
I did not see the end coming. Once things were falling into place I got that familiar flutter in my stomach however. I love it when an author is able to give me that gut feeling with the twists and turns. - wendyf

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Morton's finesse with family secrets increases with each novel." - Kirkus

"Morton weaves an intriguing mystery, shifting between past and present among fully realized characters harboring deep secrets." - People, 4 stars

"Morton deftly leads the reader astray time after time, and just when you're certain you know where the story is headed, she inserts another stunning twist. With well-conceived and well-executed characters, a skillful portrait of London at war and an ingenious plot, she scores another winner that blends love, death and, eventually, redemption" - Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Morton's best-selling work is always classy and nuanced; great for reading groups." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Diana C.
One of Morton's best
I have read all of Kate Morton's books, so I was of course eagerly awaiting her latest. Rich in period detail, which I have come to expect from all of Morton's books, this story moves back and forth from Second World War London to the 21st century, unraveling a family mystery. I love it when a book throws you for a loop just when you least expect it, and this story delivers such a blow just when you think you have finally solved the mystery.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by joyce
The secret keeper.
I love a good mystery and I am partial to those with settings in the British Isles. I also am a history buff and have read a lot of books from the World War II era. I think all of those combined should make a perfect novel. However I was somewhat disappointed with this story. I think the plot moved too slowly for me. The book drags in the beginning and sometimes I was ambivalent about the characters. Laurel seemed shallow at times and some of the discoveries seemed too predictable. There are some interesting plot turns in the latter part of the book and makes up for the rather slow start. Overall I think it is a good summer read.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by RebeccaR
Glad I Discovered This thru BookBrowse
I enjoyed this book! I don't usually read "mystery" genres, and I had never read anything by this author before. I also must admit that I never would have picked up this book in a book store because the book jacket illustration just isn't "my kind." The reader will feel a variety of reactions towards characters - one minute you like them, then you might now. The plot twists and turns are interesting. The flashbacks blend smoothly into the flow of the story. I think that the premise of the book could lead to some interesting discussions: who are/were our parents really? There was one small scene where a pay phone went dead, and at that point I thought--in 2012? And a character with this income wouldn't have a cell phone? But other than that, I surprised myself by being caught up in the tale and wanting to know the outcome. Which I also liked!

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Dorothy T.
Kate Morton is a master story-teller
I eagerly awaited the arrival of Kate Morton's new book and was not disappointed. Not only did this one keep me reading until midnight, it kept me awake after I turned out the light, going over details of the developments; this was especially true last night when I finished it. I am always amazed at how this writer knows how much of the story needs to be revealed and when to reveal it to keep the reader engrossed.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Dianne @ The Book Shop
Definitely secrets to be kept
One of the perks, as if we needed another, of owning a book shop is receiving advance reading copies. I was thrilled when I requested a copy of Kate Morton's new book, The Secret Keeper, which comes out in October and received one!

From the beginning of the novel you are immediately privy to secret number one. As the book continues, you realize there is a whole lot more to come.

As Laurel probes the memory of her childhood and what she saw her mother do she learns that what she witnessed was the culmination of things that had previously happened in her mother's life.

As her mother, Dorothy, lay dying the story unfolds through sequences of the past, snippets from her mother and what Laurel uncovers in her research. Laurel finds out exactly what her mother means by "I made some bad choices." At one time I found myself totally in awe of what one of these choices were. I waited breathlessly to find out the end result.

Kate Morton is a pro a story telling and building suspense. She has another great novel on her hands.

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Author Information

Kate Morton Author Biography

Kate Morton is the eldest of three sisters. She was born in South Australia and moved with her family numerous times before settling, finally, on Tamborine Mountain. There she attended a tiny country school and spent much of her childhood inventing and playing games of make-believe with her sisters.

Kate fell avidly in love with books very early. Her favorites were those by Enid Blyton, and Kate escaped many times up the Faraway Tree or with the Famous Five into smugglers' cove. It was a love deeply felt, for it is still mysteries and secrets that dance around the edges of Kate's mind, keeping her awake deep into the night, turning or typing pages.

When she finished school, Kate studied and earned a Licentiate in Speech and Drama from Trinity College London. After an ill-fated ...

... Full Biography
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