This stunning novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah's Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.
It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie's birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they'd returned to the island - over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island's haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.
Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash. Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death. Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.
Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming, A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.
Some of the recent comments posted about A Secret Kept. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Did you find the novel morbid?
I think the desire to learn the 'secret' is very much in keeping with how the family (or our perception) of it helps us define who we are. Death is just another step on how we better understand ourselves through others. - mary
Do you think you would react more like Melanie or Antoine?
Antoine was much more realistic and honest in his reaction. Even our parents are human and we need to love them with all of their flaws. The truth might be difficult, but it's better than hiding. Remember what happened in "Sarah's Key" because of... - lynnw
Similarities between Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept
Both books center around siblings who are very close despite different sexes. The older sibling in each story is protective of the younger one and both find an unexpected result of their attempt to make something special occur - protection in the... - shirleyf
What did you think of Antoine?
I completely agree with Joyce S. Antoine was vulnerable, closed off, stymied and confused at his inability to make a life that he felt was worthwhile. I admired his tenacity in pursuing the truth about his family, no matter how scary the unknown... - judyb
What kind of woman was Clarisse Rey?
Clarisse Rey was out of her element socially, and probably felt like an outsider all the time. She didn't receive any warmth from her husband or his family. Hence, she accidentally found another outlet for herself in a time period when... - ruthd
If you like your thought-provoking books with a dose of energetic plot, you'll want to read A Secret Kept. Set in France, both in Paris and Noirmoutier, an island off the east coast of France... I was thoroughly engrossed and finished the book in two days. There was never a false note, and never a dull moment. (Reviewed by Beverly Melven).
USA Today - Jocelyn McClurg Secret has its pleasures; de Rosnay (whose literary heroine is Daphne du Maurier) knows how to keep you hooked, and it's entertaining to watch her sympathetic French characters grapple with their Gallic angst. But this novel is a mere bonbon compared with Sarah's Key's rich feast.
The story of an emotionally distant family as it struggles to come to grips with changing dynamics and the mysterious death of a young mother many years ago[...] De Rosnay's writing is eloquent and beautiful, and her characterizations are both honest and dead-on.
This perceptive portrait of a middle-aged man's delayed coming-of-age rates as a seductive, suspenseful, and trés formidable keeper.
Erica Bauermeister, author of The School of Essential Ingredients A Secret Kept is a beautiful and haunting exploration of wanting - and not wanting - to understand one's past, of learning to see parents as individuals, whether the parents in question are our own or ourselves.
Diane Chamberlain, author of Summer's Child
In A Secret Kept, Tatiana de Rosnay takes us on a journey to that haunted place where the past seeps into the present, where memory appears and disappears, and where healing seems always out of reach. With her lyrical prose and her gift for creating deeply sympathetic characters, de Rosnay has given us a hopeful story, as addictive as it is moving."
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Doreen M A secret kept Depressing and disjointed. Such a big letdown after Sarah's Keys.
Rated of 5
by Dorothy Halligan A Secret Kept A very well-written story about how we perceive events as children, and often misconstrue their meaning. I listened to the book and found the narrator as good a storyteller as I've heard, which enhanced the culture, and sense of place that was... Read More
Rated of 5
by I.Marshall A Secret Kept Very well written, but unsatisfactory. The plot was muddled and there seemed to be too many extraneous events that had little or nothing to do with the main plot. At one point a reference to the letters that he had not yet read was made. Again,... Read More
Rated of 5
by JWW Not a page turner This book had it's moments of intrigue and interesting plot but, unfortunately, there were only moments. A big deal was made of the secret but the secret was not such a big deal. The characters were over-wrought or under developed and, at times,... Read More
Rated of 5
by Becca Garcia Don't expect "Sarah's Key" I enjoyed "A Secret Kept", but did not like this story as much as "Sarah's Key". The characters were not complex and I didn't feel the urgent need to continue reading although I did finish the book.
Rated of 5
by Dianne S This book shouldn't be a kept a secret I just finished reading Tatiana de Rosnay's A Secret Kept & I loved it. It had the right blend of drama and vivid characters. The story line was great and as in Sarah's Key, the chapters were short & concise which ads to the flow of the... Read More
A Secret Kept is set primarily in Paris and Noirmoutier (pronounced "nwar mooteeay"), an island off the Atlantic coast of France in the Loire region. A popular tourist destination for both beach-lovers and history buffs, Ile de Noirmoutier (literally 'island of black monastery') has several claims to fame:
It is home to La Bonnotte, the world's most expensive potato. The carefully controlled crop is harvested by hand in the first week of May and is sold to restaurants and foodies across Europe. If you look up La Bonnotte online you'll find a multitude of websites ready to tell you that they sell for 500 or more a kilo. These reports should be taken with a strong pinch of salt. The reality is that occasional bags have sold for as much as 3000 at charity auctions, but the island's tourism board tells us that the crop is sold for around 3-4 per kilo (about US$2-$3 per lb) - which is still a lot to pay for a bag of spuds especially by the time they've been marked up in stores - but apparently they are very tasty.
A brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.
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