The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

As this novel opens in the early 1960s, members of a family are gathering near their English farmhouse for an outdoorsecret keeper birthday celebration, while Laurel, the oldest daughter, remains in the nearby treehouse, lost in her daydreams.

Laurel pays little attention to the stranger walking towards the house until she hears him call her mother by name.  She watches in amazement as she sees her mother – her lovely, kind, almost-perfect mother – kill him with a cake knife.  The police quickly decide that this was a case of self-defense, and the family never mentions the incident again.

In 2011, Laurel, now a well-known actress, is in her 50s.  As she, her sisters, and her brother meet for their mother’s 90th birthday party, Laurel becomes determined to find out the truth about this chilling event from their past.  Who was that stranger?  What was his connection with their mother?  Why has their mother never talked about the events of her life before she met their father?

Chapters about Laurel’s mother’s experiences as a young woman in WWII London alternate with the story of Laurel’s search for her mother’s past.  The plot gains momentum as it goes along, becoming a real page-turner as it nears the surprise ending.

In addition to having an exciting plot, The Secret Keeper does a good job of conveying the uncertainty of life during the Blitz.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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