This stunning new 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.
©2010 Tatiana de Rosnay (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I read reviews complaining of the self centered, whining protagonist, and thought that perhaps those reviewers were being too harsh. I hoped that whatever The Secret of the title is would create enough of a compelling story to compensate for character weaknesses, as was the case in Sarah's Key. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to BE a compelling story. I have finally given up after listening to roughly half of the story - endless depressing descriptions of a man devoid of personality, admittedly at a loss as to how to relate to his children and moping about his ex-wife. But what finally did it was the unnecessary forensic descriptions of his "romantic" interlude in the morgue with the nymphomaniac mortician. I have not found a likable character yet and finally have decided I don't care what the secret is (although I do have a guess, and might go to my local book store just to turn to the end to see if I'm right). It's just not worth the hours more of tedious day-by-day woe-is-me. Grow a backbone and get on with it.
Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.
Di Rosnay writes a compelling story. She mingles life and death with love gained and love lost as she chronicles the story of Antoine Rey and his attempt to unlock the secrets surrounding his young mother's death. Like Job, he has trials thrust at him all at once. His family disintegrates, people die, he and his sister, Melanie, have a car accident, his wife divorces him, and he hates his job. However, no good writer will leave her protagonist in the same condition that she first created him. Antoine is spurred into action by Melanie's revelation that she has just remembered an important incident from their childhood regarding their mother. Di Rosnay reveals the family secret slowly keeping our headphones firmly in place for hours at a time.
Not even the incredible voice of Simon Vance can save this horrible book. Bad plot, with major events not meaning much of anything in the end. Bad writing. Horrible characters. Not only do you not care about "the hero,"you don't even like him. Save your credits. Read The Little Stranger instead - a much better use of Simon Vance's voice.
While Simon Vance narrates this book extraordinarily well, it is insufficient to save this story from droning on about the French bourgeois, the French middle class, and subsequent ennui. The author's premise of an accident in which a sister is nearly killed is enticing but I think the real "Secret Kept," is why should the reader care.
It was an pretty good story but the narrator, although an excellent voice and timing, was not right for this book. Please use an English speaking Parisian when your main character is Parisian. This man is British who speaks the Queens English. I never felt I was in France although I know the city well. He was also poor at women's voices, French accents and American as well. The author did him no favor using British slangs. Admittedly, if I'm listening to a story set in France - I am a purist. I want to feel like I'm transported there.
Its depressingly sad and doesn't really go anywhere. But, its not written badly, so if you want to just listen to a sad mans story, told by a guy with an accent this is the book for you.
His lovely accent, and perfect pronunciation of all the french names and places, that for an american like me would have been impossible to pronounce.
Yes, I would recommend this book but with reservations.
The beginning of the book is slow to get momentum with the story. The main character would be more personable, he's somewhat boring.
The French words would be glossed over, I don't speak or read French.
No, not enough of a story.
This is one of the better audible books I've listened to. It's the second book I've heard with Simon Vance as a reader, and I will look for others.
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