"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

09 July 2018

2018 Book Review #23: The Secret Keeper

This author is one I've seen mentioned on blogs and book sites I like to visit.  I've also seen her books in the town library but had never read one.  This past week, while away on our mountain vacation, I read this entire novel and it was great.


Laurel Nicholson is the oldest of 3 younger sisters (Rose, Iris, and Daphne) and a little brother, Gerry.  She is 16 years old and lives on Greenacres the family farm in the English countryside.  They are not wealthy financially, but they are happy and rich in spirit. 

During a summer birthday party for little Gerry who just turned 2, Laurel escaped to her tree-house  to dream of the future.  She has a crush on a boy and someday wants to be an actress.  While she is up in the tree house, with everyone else down by the river at the party, she sees a stranger walking up the long road to their farm.  She watches as her mother, who has gone to retrieve the special birthday cake knife with Gerry on her hip, approaches him and begins to talk.  Then, Laurel witnesses a horrible crime.  It is shocking.  In fact, this crime will challenge everything Laurel thought she knew about her mother.  Her mother is Dorothy...a vivacious, loving and practically perfect mother.  Until now.

Fast forward 50 years:  Laurel is a very successful and well-known actress living in London.  The entire family is gathering together at Greenacres Farm for their mother's 90th birthday. Dorothy is not well and the doctors basically say she could die anytime now. However, knowing that this will be the last chance Laurel will have of learning the secrets her mother has kept all of these years, she begins to search for the answers to the many questions she has of her mother and her life before marriage and children. 

 Laurel begins to dig into Dorothy's past.  And what she finds out is very surprising. Her mother is tied in some way to three different people:  Henry Jenkins and his young wife Vivien.  And to a young man named Jimmy. Henry Jenkins is the man who walked up to their farm back when Laurel was 16.  Why??  And what really happened with her mother?  What secrets has her mother been carrying since 1941??


There is so much to this plot!!  I didn't want to give out the entire story in the above summary so I summed it up as per the jacket cover which leaves out a lot of details about Dorothy's a.k.a. Dolly's life growing up in the 1940s.

The book takes you from 1961 when Laurel is 16 to the present day.  Then it goes back to tell Dolly's story from pre-WWII  England and the Blitz to the 1960s.  Then the next chapter is Laurel's voice in the present day. Laurel will dig up new information about her mother's growing up years and then the next chapter will answer part of that question.  And so on.

It is excellent in character development and setting.  The characters are really believable and so realistic.  Your can just see them sitting in the cafe with their 1940s clothing and hair styles smoking their cigarettes and chatting.  The author does an excellent job with setting.

She also does a very excellent job at keeping the reader interested.  In some places I felt like it was starting to slow down, but then quickly it picked up pace again.

I was so intrigued as to what really happened between Dolly, Vivien and Jimmy that I stayed up very late each night this past week to keep reading more.

There was one quote that really jumped out at me.  It was said by the adult Gerry:

".....we grow and change depending on what life throws at us."
(page 421, The Secret Keeper, c. 2012)

And then shortly after that quote, the ending begins.  And oh what an ending.

It did NOT end the way I predicted.  I was totally surprised and I kept thinking how brilliant this author is to come up with such an ending to such a great love story.

This is part mystery, drama, family saga, history, and romance. But the romance parts are not sappy at all.  If they were, I wouldn't have read it.  It is just a sweet "feel good' story  that leaves you feeling full and satisfied.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Susanne said...

Well I guess this is the one I will be reading next

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

Sounds like an intriguing read!

Susanne said...

Oh my gosh, I loved this book. Not only was the story good but the twist! And the ending was just so satisfying.