The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

the secret keeperEver since I’ve read Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden I fell in love with family sagas and mysteries with dual time narratives and she has become one of my favourite writers in this genre. Having read all her books and loving almost all of them, The Secret Keeper might be one of my favourites by Kate.

The novel tells the story of main character, Laurel, a successful actress who is haunted by a crime she witnessed when she was only sixteen years old. She witnessed her mother, Dolly, kill a man and now over fifty years later she wants answers to her questions. Her mother however suffers from dementia and isn’t of much help. Dorothy, along with her baby brother, who was present at the crime scene, is investigating further into their family history, looking for answers.

During this investigation, the story starts spanning over the decades, from the 1940s of WWII, the 1960s and current day. Kate takes us back to the day of the crime, to who Dolly was during WWII – working as a caregiver to an old woman, her plight for a better life, her friendship with a woman named Vivien and falling in love with ex-lover, Jimmy.

The writing is lyrical and made the story a joy to read. It is also a fast pacing novel with strong characters and a great storyline that will make you want to keep turning the pages until you reach the (breathtaking) end. The end which is the best part of the novel is another “everything isn’t always what it seems” conclusion. I can’t say more about the story line and the ending without giving away too many spoilers, but The Secret Keeper is worth a read and it’s one of her best. I don’t remember much about The Forgotten Garden other than it’s is my favourite KM novel, but now I’m not so sure…

Memorable quotes:

“Life could be cruel enough these days without the truth making it worse”

“There was something about a book that inspired dedication and a swelling desire to possess it”

 “When reason sleeps, the monsters of repression will emerge”

“There were moments in which a person reached a crossroads, when something happened, out of the blue, to change the course of life’s events”

My thoughts on other Kate Morton books I’ve read: The Forgotten Garden | The House at Riverton | The Distant Hours

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  • Isi

    It’s one of my favourite books, and one of the first I read in English, by the way!
    I loved the characters and how the story turns at some points, with events that I could hardly imagine! And the end… I was sobbing for the rest of the evening when I finish it. So romantic.
    I’m glad you also loved it that much. It’s a great novel.
    I have only read this one and The forgotten garden, so I hope to read the rest soon, and I’ve seen a new book is coming this autumn!

    • A new book from Kate Morton is definitely something to look forward to! I’m going to google it RIGHT NOW.

      Yes the ending was great – the part about who Dolly really is, that was a great twists. And yes the romantic part was good too.

      You should pick up The House at Riverton, I liked it a lot more than Distant Hours, which is my least favourite.

      • Isi

        The problem is that I don’t have The house at Riverton, and I do have The distant hours :(( So…

  • I read The Forgotten Garden a couple of years ago and loved everything about it. I’ve been meaning to read more by her and reviews like this make me wonder why it’s taken me so long to pick up the next one.

    • I loved The Forgotten Garden, I should probably re-read it. Do you have any of her other books, Katherine? Or is it a case of getting them first?

  • I just realized, based on your description, that I read this one. Apparently it didn’t stick, but I stick LOVE The Forgotten Garden.

  • Ali

    This is the first time I’ve seen the new blog layout Melinda. Looks superb!


  • I really like Kate Morton as well, but have found if your read her books one after another they get a little repetitive. Go figure!

    • They do have a similar style, yes. Luckily I haven’t read them one after the other. Have you read all her books, Tanya?

  • This was my least favourite of her books! Probably because, as Tanya said, they can be a little repetitive if you read them one after another which I was guilty of doing. I should have savoured them better. That said, I cannot wait for her new book to come out!

    • I also can’t wait for the new book. The Distant Hours was my least favourite of her books. Luckily I didn’t read them one after another!

  • This was one of my favorites by her and I still can’t figure out why. Maybe because it was different and in a more “urban” setting? Either way, she always has good stuff.

    • She sure has good books. I think both The Secret Keeper and The Forgotten Garden are my favourites. I might at the moment like The Secret Keeper more…. Maybe it’s time to re-read The Forgotten Garden 🙂

  • Tina Culbertson

    I don’t have this one but I fell in love with Kate Morton’s style with The House at Riverton. Can’t wait to read more of her work. I like the quotes you shared .

    • I liked The House at Riverton too, but this one and The Forgotten Garden tops it for me 🙂
      Let me know what you think of her other books once you read them!

      • Tina Culbertson

        I sure will, as a matter of fact after your review I ordered a copy of The Secret Keeper. It’s in shipping transit right now, can’t wait!

  • Ciska van der Lans

    I really enjoyed this one. The story is really interesting and makes you think. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Kate Morton made me fall in love with dual narrative storylines too. This is the current reigning favorite of hers (so far — I have yet to read The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours). Lovely review!