The Secret Keeper

Another month has passed and that means it’s time to discuss another PBF book club book!

The Secret Keeper Kate Morton

In January we read The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.

Brief Summary

The Secret Keeper begins with drama. From the safety and seclusion of the family tree house, 16-year-old Laurel witnesses her mother commit a horrific crime that is completely uncharacteristic of the woman that raised Laurel with love and tenderness.

The book picks up years later when Laurel is an adult and her mother, Dorothy, is in the hospital, with limited days left to live. Laurel begins to wonder about the crime she witnessed so many years ago and begins to do some detective work of her own to get to the bottom of the secret that has stayed with her for so many years.

The Secret Keeper flashes back and forth between present-day and Dorothy’s past in pre–WWII England. As a young woman, Dorothy’s life is intertwined with the lives of Jimmy and Vivien, two people whose stories help slowly reveal the motive behind the heinous crime Dorothy committed years later.

My Review (With Spoilers)

You would think that a book that begins with a murder would rope me in immediately, but it took me a while to feel fully invested in The Secret Keeper. Kate Morton takes time to develop her characters by providing a lot of backstory and she is clearly a fan of descriptive imagery. While this allowed me to fully understand the characters and paint a fabulous picture in my mind of London in the 1940s, it also made the book truck along a little slowly at first.

After the murder in the beginning of the book, I kept waiting for something else to happen. Fortunately, once I started to feel roped in, I was fully invested. The book is long, but once I made it through the first quarter of the book, it really picked up. I absolutely flew through the final third of the novel.

Though I liked Laurel and was anxious to see what clues she might uncover during her detective work, I found myself much more interested in the flashback stories surrounding Dorothy, Jimmy and Vivien.

At first I loved young Dorothy. I thought she was vivacious, imaginative, passionate and a bit naïve, but extremely endearing. As Vivien’s character developed and Dorothy became more and more enamored with Vivien and her wealthy lifestyle, my feelings toward Dorothy shifted rather dramatically. I found her whiney and wanted to tell her to snap out of it and recognize the amazing love Jimmy had for her and appreciate and embrace it.

While the book was slow at first, I began to come around to Kate Morton’s descriptive language and “slow reveal” style of writing as I read. The backstory that felt menial in the beginning of the book proved important as the story went on. I loved wondering whether or not Vivien was truly a good person and enjoyed the element of mystery that surrounded her story. (I always rooted for Jimmy’s happiness. I loved him.)

Once Vivien’s true character was revealed, the book really got moving and I couldn’t put it down. I sat up in bed, flipping through the pages until the twist of all twists occurred at the very end. I definitely didn’t see the final twist coming and loved that Kate Morton weaved such an intricate and detailed story without revealing something so monumental until the very end.

If you can get through a slow-moving start, I would highly recommend The Secret Keeper. I love it when a book catches me off guard and surprises the heck out of me at the end. The Secret Keeper definitely delivered.

Blogger Link Up

You can find additional reviews of The Secret Keeper on the following blogs:

Discussion Questions

  • What did you think about Dorothy in the beginning of the book? How did you feel about her as the book progressed? Did your feelings change?
  • What did you think of the big twist at the end of the book? Did you see it coming?  
  • Did you prefer following Laurel’s story or the stories surrounding Dorothy, Jimmy and Vivien?

Comments

  1. says

    I liked Dorothy for a short while… but during the whole second half of the book I was pretty turned off by her. Except, I was conflicted! It seemed like she had been a really great and involved mom so I thought maybe the tragic event the author kept referring to had sparked a drastic change. I couldn’t understand how the young woman that was being described had turned into a mother who said such sweet things to her children. I was completely surprised by the ending, but very happily so because it resolved all of my frustrations!

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    • Audra says

      This is how I felt too. I got to a point where I couldn’t stand young Dorothy and it made me feel conflicted about the entire story. But the twist made it all worth it!

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  2. says

    I started this book and sadly couldn’t get through the rest of it. I really tried to Julie but I am not that into slow books, they have to rope me in right away or I get bored really easily. Instead I read We Need To Talk About Kevin and I definitely suggest this for your next book discussion it is so good and a bit of a disturbing read which I surprisingly enjoyed.

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  3. says

    I like the book. It draw me in after 100-150 pages and it reminds of a criminal story and I was curious who is the “murder”. I didn’t like Dorothy too, even when she was a teenager, because she was so selfcentered (Jimmy must know and predict all her thoughts and wishes). Like you I was interested to see Vivien charachter and the final twist was fab! I started to think what will happen and I didn’t like my predictions and I am happy for the end Kate Morton chose :)

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  4. says

    I can’t wait to start this book. I just downloaded it onto my Kindle, so hopefully the slow start doesn’t completely put me off of the rest of the reading.

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  5. Sami says

    Hi Julie,
    I used your Honey Goat Cheese Dip recipe for a little Superbowl party I had last night and it was a HUGE success! Thank you so much for that recipe; a new personal favorite of mine too.

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  6. says

    I just finished the book, and I’m glad I stuck with it! MAN, what a twist!!! Did NOT see that coming. I had lots of theories throughout the book, but very few of them were correct.

    I think I liked the flashbacks better than Laurel’s story. I got frustrated during those sections when she couldn’t just get the information she was looking for from her mother.

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  7. says

    I really liked this and raced through to the ending. Not my favorite Kate Morton book, but definitely a good read. I totally missed the canceled stamp significance in the book – can anyone explain it to me?

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  8. says

    Before I read the last couple of chapters, I had absolved Dorothy for her crimes. I did not like Dorothy at all with her schemes, plans and “fantasy world” — but I was willing to accept that she had changed and become a different person in her adulthood. I understood why she felt like she had to murder Henry (he was after her, after all and Vivien said that he would ‘never stop trying to find her’) — so she was scared of him, and she felt like she was in danger.

    Then, I turned the pages and learned the twist of all twist endings, and my jaw was on the floor! Incredible! I agree that it was a little slow moving at the beginning, but boy was it worth it!

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  9. Dona Corcoran says

    Today is book club and I haven’t finished the secret keeper yet. I was blaming the Nook as this is my first book downloaded. I’m having a difficult time adjusting to not being able to hold a paper book. After reading comments I will finish the book and today I will just listen.

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