First published in Issue 15 of Hit and Miss Magazine
To start off with, this book felt a little bit like a grown up version of The Secret Garden (which if you haven’t read it, is about an orphan who is sent to live with a distant relative and finds a secret garden, it’s one of my all-time favourite children’s books), while it’s a great, easy read, it’s not going to change your life.
Spanning three time periods and telling the story from three points of view it manages include almost all of my favourite book theme things: strong female characters, mystery, family history, secrets, and lost identities. Starting with a little girl playing on a ship, The Secret Keeper is rich with mystery. Kate Morton really excels at setting a scene, which as this book is set in Australia, London and Cornwall; there is a rich tapestry of scene setting here.
The day before Nell turns twenty one; her father tells her that she is not her parent’s biological daughter. Instead she was found on a Brisbane wharf and adopted, although not officially it seems as the now-parents made little effort to find her real parents. This sets Nell off on a path of destruction, she breaks off her engagement, distances herself from her family, marries a man she doesn’t love and has a daughter, who she neglects and wonders why her daughter turns out to be a less than stable mother to her granddaughter. Apart from being slightly narcissistic, Nell is a wonderful character, full of angst at her perceived lack of identity she makes the trip to England to find out the truth about her origins.
Secondly we have the story from Cassandra, Nell’s granddaughter, who, after Nell’s death, picks up where her grandmother left off searching for her heritage. Cassandra is plagued by her own tragedy and soon finds herself in England, following the increasingly mysterious trail of her grandmother’s heritage.
The Authoress is the final voice in the story, with her fairy tales woven throughout, seemingly to give the reader clues to what is happening in that particular time period. Eliza Makepeace is a fascinating character unfortunately I found the addition of the fairy tales a bit pointless and I skipped most of them. This is a great book if you’re after a bit of brain fluff, it has enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages, but it’s not going to make you think too much.