So! Kate Morton! In the past I’ve had some feelings about the way Kate Morton does her plots and sentences. This has bothered me in different degrees for different books — The House at Riverton was close to pure joy (I was reading it on vacation) but did not stand up to rereads, and The Forgotten Garden bugged me with some heavy-handed plot devices. But The Secret Keeper is her fourth book, and some of the tics I didn’t love in the first two I’ve read are gone now, and overall it was a fun, engaging, non-annoying read.
As a teenager, Laurel witnessed a crime in her home, and she has tried her best to forget it. But now, fifty years and a full career as an actress later, Laurel’s mother Dorothy is close to death, and she feels that she must find out the truth behind what she saw before it’s too late. Since her mother is reluctant to talk about her past, Laurel begins to look into the days before her parents met. In alternating chapters, we see the early years of the vivacious Dorothy, from her childhood in Coventry to a job as a lady’s maid to a WVS worker in London. THERE ARE SECRETS.
What I liked: The plot was a lot of fun. Young Dorothy (Dolly, as she was then, aw) was entertainingly full of schemes for advancing her life to get what she wanted. I love a scheme. She has schemes for making friends and schemes for concealing her boyfriend from her man-hating old lady employer, and schemes generally for moving up in the world and finding a happy family. I was pleased every time the pov switched to Dolly so I could enjoy her scheming.
What I sometimes but not always liked: Laurel’s plotline. She didn’t have that much to do. I liked it the best when she was hanging out with Gerald and they were each doing their own line of research. When Laurel was on her own, I felt like she was adrift. She had feelings about her past and wanted to figure out how her delightful perfect mother (there was a lot of reiteration of this point, the delightful perfectness of her mother) could have had a shady mixed past. Which is fine, but it’s more fun when she has someone to talk to (Gerald) about the issues that are plaguing her.
What I didn’t care for: The modern-day characters were kinda boring. Laurel has three sisters in addition to the brother, and I’m still not sure what the point of them was. They never add anything to the research Laurel is doing, except to occasionally say a random thing in passing that helps Laurel to a realization about what went on in her mother’s past. You don’t get a good sense of what Dolly’s [whatever drastic action she took! I won’t spoil it for you] ultimately brought to her life, because the present-day family relationships are rarely given much attention.
If you’re in the mood for an engaging historical mystery with some fun-if-guessable twists and reversals of fortune, Kate Morton’s your girl.
I received this e-book for review through NetGalley.