Thursday, 14 March 2013
Book Review #20 - The Secret Keeper
Title: The Secret Keeper
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, 2012
Length: 600 pages
1961: On a summer's day, while her family picnics by the stream on, 16-year-old Laurel hides out in her tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can't wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.
As with all Kate Morton books, it is a mystery! It starts off as a normal but intriguing story, but you know that at some point there's gonna be a murder/mysterious death.
I don't know if I'm used to Kate Morton's writing style now after reading all her previous titles but I thought there wasn't as much in-your-face/Shakesperian sentences in The Secret Keeper.
I didn't guess the twist at the end although I knew something was building up.
The story starts and focuses on Laurel and her mother Dolly. We travel through time, from Dolly childhood, Laurel's childhood to present time with Dolly being an old lady.
In summary, in the 60's Laurel witnessed her mother kill a man in their garden and although her mother always claimed to not knowing the man, Laurel did hear the man call Dolly's name before but never said anything.
We are also introduced to Dolly's growing obsession with another woman called Vivien, in the 30's.
We are then shared between Dolly's story during the pre-war and war times when she entertains her "fake" obsessionnal relationship with Vivien, and Dolly's daughter Laurel trying to find out the truth about what she witnessed as a child before her mother passes away.
About pre-war and war times, in brief, Dolly meets Billy and moves to London. Jimmy, a photographer leaves her to go take pictures of soldiers and lost families in France. Dolly works partly as a maid to a rich old woman and partly as a volunteer for the WVS. She entertains fantasies about a friendship with a woman across the road called Vivien. One day, she goes to her place returning Vivien's locket she found at the WVS and when Vivien tells her husband that she doesn't know Dolly, Dolly feels so hurt that she devises a plan to make her pay the humiliation.
We are also transported to Vivien's childhood where we discover that she lost her parents and got transfered from her native Australia to her aunt Ada in London. She's a shy girl who got matched up with a very powerful man whose name was known all over. It turned out that this man was violent, so violent that he has killed out of jealousy before.
Dolly's plan was to get Jimmy to acquaint himself with her, get him to know her and follow her so he could get a picture of Vivien and her lover so they could blackmail her - without knowing of the husband violent behaviour.
Vivien didn't have a lover, she was working with children. Jimmy managed to get into her life through the children . Of course, Jimmy fell in love with her.
Dolly, unaware of this budding love, thought that Jimmy was still going ahead with her plans and took a picture of them together looking at each other longingly. She decided to use that picture instead to extort money out of Vivien.
The plan fell through when Dolly realised that Vivien wasn't that bad.
The following turn of events ended in Vivien's husband receiving the photo, him killing Jimmy and searching Vivien to kill her too.
Being during the war, a bomb blasted off Dolly's appartement where Vivien had gone to look for Dolly to warn her about her husband. One woman died in that blast but it's not who we think it is.
SPOILER: Dolly died, but Vivien assumed her identity to save herself from her husband.
Laurel witnessed her mother Dolly, but really Vivien, kill her ex husband who had never stopped looking for her!
My Kindle note
"Vivien had learned early, as a child, in a crowded railway station, on her way to board a ship to a faraway country, that she could only ever control the life she led inside her mind " ---- Something I have to remind myself many times per day