Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: The Secret Keeper

Book: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Prompt: Read a book you learned about from this challenge
Pages: 496

I found this book when looking at tags of this challenge from Instagram.  So quite literally, I learned about this book from the 26 Books Challenge.

In any case, Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper is a tripartite story focusing primarily on three women: Laurel, Dorothy, and Vivien.  In 2011, Laurel is taking care of her dying mother, Dorothy.  Meanwhile, she is trying to find out about her mother's life during World War II and how it links to the mysterious man that her mother killed in self-defense when Laurel was 16.  The other two stories take place in the years leading up to and including the London Blitz.  It isn't easy to have a cohesive story with three different heroines (much less, switching back and forth between them), but Morton does it with ease and a much-appreciated lack of disjointedness.

I don't want to spoil any plot details, but let me just say that this book contains one whopper of a plot twist.  I didn't see it coming, and I think even the most savvy reader could easily be blinded by it as well.  I think I literally said, "What?!" when I got to that part.

But the thing about that plot twist is that it doesn't feel forced at all.  Looking back, I can see how I as the reader made assumptions about what was meant or implied by a character or narration but how something else entirely was meant.  I hate hate hate when plot twists or major plot developments feel forced or like a stunt (*cough*Divergent series*cough*).  But that's not what happened here.

Now, for something more amusing.  Kate Morton is an Aussie, and this book takes place in England, with English characters.  I never fully believed in the "two (or three) people separated by a common language" joke about American English vs. British English (and, I think, vs. Australian English) until I read this book.  Besides the numerous food and drink types and brands that I didn't recognize (Spangles, Anzac biscuits, billy tea, etc.), I had to look up words like chilblains, truncheon, kirby grips, tommies, haversack, fine fettle, het up, and silverside.  I also learned that "my shout" means "my treat" and court shoes are tennis shoes/sneakers.  But by far the funniest was when a character was described as having "a ladder in her stockings."  By the time I got past the hilarious mental image of a 12-foot ladder being in her stockings, I realized that it meant she had a run in her stockings.  In any case, I found it amusing.

Recommendation: Read it!  It is long, and the pacing is a bit slow, but it is well worth the read!  I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who isn't maybe a junior in high school or older due to some adult content.  It's not terribly mature content, but it is a little risque.

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