England, 1959: Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.
Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s 90th birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.
The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths some people go to fulfill them, and the strange consequences they sometimes have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers and schemers, play-acting, and deception told against a backdrop of events that changed the world.
©2012 Kate Morton (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Alternating between 2011 and 1940, a dying mother, visited by her children, hints at a past regret to her daughter, Laurel. Present day Laurel visits libraries, families and spends her day digging into the past to determine what changed her mother all those years ago. Dorothy's past unfolds with love interest, Jimmy and you walk beside her experiencing the decisions she made for better or worse.
At first, I thought this book would be predictible. I adored, "The Secret Garden," liked "Distant Hours," but didn't care for "House at Riverton." Hesitant to pick up this fourth offering from Morten and happy I did. She introduces complex characters whose desires make them human; neither perfect nor wrong. There are many corners you turn in the story and just when I thought I'd figured out the ending, I was led down a divergent path. Enjoyed the journey and hope you will, too. Excellent choice for women who like a good character driven mystery.
I've been waiting for this book to come out, as Kate Morton is one of my faves. Although I must admit, even though I was waiting for this release, I refused to buy it in print or e-book format because I wanted Caroline Lee to tell me the story. She's one of my faves, too. I wasn't disappointed. I believe this is the best Kate Morton novel to date. I was enthralled every bit of the way through, listening with such fervor with the hopes that each mystery would be revealed. The ending was superb and caught me totally by surprise. I loved it!
The toughest part about this book is that it had to end. This beautiful and haunting story of romance, family secrets, war-time mysteries, genealogy, old trunks and houses and ephemera that tells snippets of a story that had unraveled in secrecy was so satisfying that I had to hop on right away to give my review. I love that this tale is over 19 hours long -- it made me really feel as if I was getting my credit's worth. Yet listening to Lee's easy and engaging reading style didn't make it a burden at all. Easily one of my best purchases of the year (and I purchase a lot). I definitely recommend!
The only caveat I would give to someone new to Kate Morton is to stick with it. The beginning can be a bit slow, and a few parts in between are a little draggy. There was so much cigarette smoking that I almost gave in and bought a pack myself to cave into the subliminal peer pressure (after many years of having quit). But it's worth it. Stay with it, and you won't be disappointed!
This was my first Kate Morton and I was totally fascinated by the ways she weaves the tale through the eyes of Laurel, her daughter. Many times I do not like the switch from present to past, etc. but this book had perfect timing in this realm. The characters are all well developed and rich in personality traits. Twists and turns and a complex finale. All people are just human in the end. I have recommended this book to all my friends. Caroline Lee also brought the story to life.
Now may I make a recommendation: For those reviewers who basically rewrite the story and give all the minute details (and I am sure you are smart and definitely have a handle on most of the books you review). My problem is I want to listen to the book but not after having heard the plot and character twists. I skip reviews that go on and on. Please just give us a leader that will make me anxious to spend my next credit on that book. I respect your judgments, just dont want to know too much about the book before I listen to it. Thanks.
I first encountered Kate Morton’s books in May of 2011 and have waited anxiously for each new Audible publication. But in my opinion “The Secret Keeper” is her finest so far. Her character development is beautifully done and her ability to have the reader travel back and forth between eras is accomplished smoothly and effortlessly. I found myself totally enmeshed in the lives of Jimmy and Dorothy and Vivian and when the story moved to present day, I became a member of Laurel’s family and “saw” each of her sisters and her brother clearly. As a firm believer in “degrees of separation”, the twists and turns this story took on its journey were totally believable. For 19 wonderful hours I was lost in the lives of others and am so sorry the story has ended.
I need to also say that without Caroline Lee’s narration much would be lost. I have enjoyed her presentation of each of the other Kate Morton books that I have listened too.
If you like history, a mystery, a love story and a well-executed book, do not hesitate to select “The Secret Keeper”. It is a real keeper!
I LOVE to listen to audiobooks - the Audible ap is by far the best thing that's ever happend to my iPhone.
I had NO clue how it would end - AMAZING - I adored it. And I was so thankful!!!!!!
I read lots of reviews - and got the message loud and clear, this was going to be a great book. However, one review caught my attention. It mentioned that the begining of the book will be a tad boring but by the middle you will be hooked - and boy, were they RIGHT!
This book reminds me of a lot of books (Girl with the Dragon Tatoo) where you find yourself drifting in the begining because there aren't details you can grab and start buidling with. But, by the middle of the book - you start to feel a bit more involved with the characters. You finally see where everything is heading - well, sort of. And if you choose to listen again - you'll see the pieces fall together and fit better.
I often read (or listen to) a book and am grateful for the gift of great authors and the stories they share with us. This is certainly a wonderful story.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
There are two things that happen with a good Kate Morton book. First, the overall experience is always a pleasure. The words that have been written when read by Caroline Lee make for many terrific listening hours. Then there's the part with what Kate Morton does with a plot. In this particular case, I simply did not see it coming. And that's SO much fun. I love being tricked and this one did it. Kudos.
A true storyteller draws you into the story and you are able to visualize, be in that story. Kate Morton is profound in that capability. I have loved everyone of her books. That is odd for me because I do not care for English accent in my ear. Caroline Lee is the one exception. She is a fantastic narrator. I just so appreciate a story that once you begin you just cannot put it down until you know what happens. An author that keeps you right there in that story with those characters, it's a gift. This story will wrap right around you. It is believeable, and yet woven with fantasy of a lovely imagination. I loved it!
I wasn't over the moon with the last couple of morton books, but this one features a whole new level of prose and exceptionally fine character development, all within the context of a very compelling story.
Tiny moments in extraordinary narrator caroline lee's pitch perfect characterization of these very different sisters took my breath away
Wow wow wow. Masterful narrator, will now give a close look to any book she reads...
Just enough time in each era, but above all, the nuanced performance by the narrator makes this a worthwhile listen
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (historical/contemporary fiction) - Wow. I loved this book so much I don't know where to start. For one thing, I've listened to 241 audiobooks so far and can't remember one that I've enjoyed more. It's long, but I loved every minute and hated for it to end. This story has everything - beautiful writing, rich characters, love, deceit, mystery, family secrets...and you will grow with each character from childhood into adulthood. The story spans many decides of life on an English farm and also in London as it is ravaged by the bombings of WW II. These characters lived and loved, sometimes accepting the bombs falling around them as if were merely a thunderstorm.
One of the things I liked best about this book is the way the mystery of the crime is revealed. (I'm assuming you've read the summary.) You will pick up clues bit by delicious bit, and every time you think you might be figuring things out, you find out that you're not! And the ending is wonderful, just perfect! I will definitely be listening to this book again and again.
PERFORMANCE - Caroline Lee is one of my favorite narrators. Her voice and tempo are mesmerizing.
OVERALL - In case I haven't been clear, I highly recommend this book, primarily for adult women because of the female relationships and the romance. There is no sex and only a tiny bit of violence. As far as profanity, I think I heard "sh*t" one time. Buy this book now. You won't regret it.
Retired RN. Listen to about 4 audiobooks a month. "The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you" & a good narrator.
This is a beautiful story, well read by an amazing narrator who is perfect for the book. Listen to every word. There is so much to this book. You will love it to the last sentence. I have listened to other Kate Morton books and this is my very favorite. Listen and enjoy.
It was a great plot which had me puzzled till the end. The author has much talent and the narrator puts the story over with conviction and sensitivity. Even after knowing the end of the mystery I re-listened several times for the pure enjoyment of revisiting the characters.
"The secret keeper"
I would recommend this with reservations. I enjoyed the story but I had many problems with the narrator.
I liked the way that although it was set in different time zones it was always easy to follow. The various twists and turns in the story kept me eager to continue even though narrator made me feel like giving up.
I didn't enjoy Caroline Lee's narration. Although she has a nice voice I found her accents very difficult to listen to. Not only were they difficult to place in any particular part of the country but they were inconsistent.
Possibly but I think it might be confusing.
I know Kate Morton is Australian but because the book was set in England it really needed English accents.
"Cannae get over the bad accents in this narration!"
I would, but only if Caroline Lee sticks to her own Aussie accent. She's appallingly bad at doing other accents. I read somewhere else that her accents of the British Isles were "spot on". The person who wrote that must be either deaf or American.
I didn't have a favourite character but I liked the parts about young Dolly best. Unfortunately these are also the parts where the bad accent rears its ugly head :(
The weird accents she used. Totally ruined the listening experience, I kept wondering which accent she was actually trying for, and then I had to rewind just to focus on the story again, instead of on the bad accents.
"Not a good choice"
I have read books by Kate Morton and enjoyed them but would NEVER listen to another narrated by Caroline Lee
Only if it had a different narrator
No. Absolutely not
Annoyance: the story is probably a good one but I have given up after two hours because of the very irritating narrator. Telling an English story with an Australian accent, although faint, was annoying enough, but her attempt at an Irish accent was appalling and gave nothing to the story; in fact, the whole chapter, except for Viviane's voice, was read in an Irish accent.
I wish I had listened to the narrator before I bought the book!
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