Thursday, 11 April 2013

Group Read - THE SECRET KEEPER - Kate Morton

In a bucolic English summer at the end of the 1960s, a young girl witnesses a shocking crime. Fifty years later, she sets out to find out the truth, uncovering layers of mystery and deception. Moving from London during the Blitz to the present day, this is classic Kate Morton: a compulsively-readable, entrancing mystery with a long held secret to be uncovered at its heart.



1961: On a sweltering summer's day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can't wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds - Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy - who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

About the Author

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives now with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specializing in nineteenth-century tragedy and contemporary gothic novels.

With just three novels published, Kate Morton has sold over 7 million copies in 26 languages, across 38 countries. The Shifting Fog, published internationally as The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours have all been number one bestsellers around the world. Each novel won the Australian Book Industry award for General Fiction Book of the Year.

56 comments:

  1. I've ordered my copy through the library system. As I am #12 in the queue, I have also ordered the ebook version as well. I don't understand why there is a queue for ebooks, however, I am #2. This will be my first ebook borrowing and I am interested to see how it works. A friend told me that the loan is not renewable and when the time is up, it just disappears. Spooky.

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    1. I'm all set now. The download has arrived. I'll still keep my place in the queue for the print book, in case the ebook is zapped.

      I haven't started reading as yet, just peeked at the opening, and wasn't overly impressed. Have you managed to source a copy?

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  2. Number 36 in the queue at the library so going to be brave and download my first ebook over the weekend.Bit scarey, but also exciting !

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    1. Picked up my copy last night (I needed my weeties - it's huge). Didn't take as long as I expected to move from #12 to #1. Good luck with the download. The instructions are confusing but persevere. What's happening with your copy, Madeleinea?

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    2. Madeleinea6 wrote....
      Still waiting for book.....am off to library to learn to use my e-reader in near future, but since May 1st is not so very far away.... will wait for paperback for this one
      Looks like a good choice, Moi

      Madeleinea, I reposted this for you.

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  3. Have commented undrer 'comments'... sorry I can't hustle things along!

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    1. No rush..just wondering.

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    2. Message for Madeleinea

      Pleased you get your copy of the book soon. Also pleased you mentioned ebook classes at the library. Investigated these at my local library and came across lots of half day courses available, including IPAD,
      Ancestry.com, and a myriad of other intersting bits and pieces. These classes aren't advertised in the local newspaper either. Unfortunately work commitments make it very difficult to avial myself of these programs but what a wonderful opportunity for those who can.

      Thank you for mentioning these

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  4. Downloaded my copy through Itunes for $16.99. Seems strange not feeling the pages turn but off to bed shortly to give it my best shot....

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  5. I read the first chapter on my e-reader last night. Seems we're all going electronic!

    Won't make a comment yet.

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  6. PS I sneaked a look at the reviews on amazon and they range from 5 stars to 1 star so it won't be surprising if we have differing opinions too.

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  7. I am still immersed in textbooks and have an assignment due (I'm dreaming of Banquo's ghost :)). Please start without me and I'll catch up when I can.

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  8. Before we start delving into The Secret Keeper, two quick things.

    1) Interesting that we have selected another Australian author with references to (South East) Queensland, an area in which the author has lived.......

    2) This electronic reading business is a new experience.Haven't decided what I think about it yet. Bit testing to use, and to go back and check previously read materialis a bit of an issue I have yet to conquor. Certainly like being able to read without turning a bed lamp on has its positives however....

    And Madeleinea, this is an easy read. Think you will fly through this.....

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    1. I haven't been able to start the book but if it an easy read, I'll be able to catch up.

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    2. I too am reading mine in bed via my Sony. It's easier to hold and lighter than the ipad although I do use that when we re on holiday. Yes, a very easy read. So far, at page 167, it's keeping my interest. The storyline is intriguing and the characters are quite well-drawn but definitely no deep thinking required.

      moi - I have lots of e-pub books if you want more. I have sent some to sanmac successfully. If you have sanmac's email address let her know and she can forward your address to me off site.

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  9. Book is out in paperback Friday...

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  10. Got my book today - K-Mart at $15.....will start reading...
    Sanmac - are you getting points for this website for your Literature Course?

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  11. Oh how I wish.......that would be luverly.

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  12. We all seem to be in different places with this book. Happy to report that I finished it with ease, although I'm not too proud to admit that I think in part it was a joy to read something light and fluffy on the 2 hours train travel each day.

    Like Jaywalker this book held my interest. I wanted to know the who and why and so kept reading. ( Another admission : it was fun to play with electronic read). Are you finding this Madeleinea?

    So what did you think about Laurel and the family secret ? Do you think it normal in a mother-daughter relationship for Laurel to be so interested in the past ?

    And what did you think about the to-ing and fro-ing between time periods ?Did the author successfully transfer you from one period to the other ?

    Enjoy your reading................

    And the to and froing between

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    1. Only halfway through yet but I agree with you so far.

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  13. So far (up tp page 114) I can only say 'jolly good choice, Moi!'

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  14. Sanmac - I don't know which course you are doing, but many have sapace for a 'special subject or 'subject of your choice'. You would need to talk to your tutors about this!

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    1. Thank for the advice, Madeleinea. I'm studying Literature - Australian, English, American & Irish. Next year there is a new unit on award winners and I'm really looking forward to it as we will be studying works in translation as well. I want to do a double major in Lit but it's not available. When I have more units behind me, I'll make a special request. If I do need a second major, I'm thinking of Philosophy but it may be beyond me.

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  15. Good luck, Sanmac - sounds a heavy load

    Re book - anyone found the word 'swooned' rather unusual in a present day novel? Approx page 120 - Dorothy's relationship with Jimmy

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  16. Swooned would have been much in use during the period of Jimmy and Dorothy's courtship, would it not?

    And swoon is such a lovely word. Maybe we should be more mindful of our language usage and celebrate words especially those that have fallen from favour.

    At my workplace, which is currently harbours a very negative atmosphere for which we must thank Campbell Newman, to improve team moral I have instigated a game to enhance team spirit. Someone chooses a new word each day which we must slip into a conversation with a client on the telephone during the course of any conversation

    As the words chosen do not pertain to our industry it can be a challenge to ensure that our conversations do not appear staged. So far words selected have included exemplary, diabolical, invigorated and dysfunctional.
    When was the last time you contacted a Call Centre and a Consultant used anything other than basic language skills ?

    Oh, and Madeleinea, what do you think of the relationship between Dorothy and Jimmy ?Did it seem real to you ?

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  17. You reminded me of the game we used to play in school staff rooms when we had a consultant or education guru speaking in a workshop or seminar - Jargon Bingo - everyone had a list of the latest jargon words and the one who counted the most won. Most of us had the list in our head. The latest one I've noticed is "in this space" - the health space. the education space, the aged care space!! What on earth did we say before?

    Re Dorothy and Jimmy - I think I liked and understood Jimmy and Vivien much better than Dorothy. I saw some reviews which said people were put off by the backwards and forwards style and the number of characters but that didn't bother me. I just thought it was quite an intriguing plot, light reading, not much polish or depth to the writing but still an enjoyable read.

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    1. Jaywalker, I had no issue with the changing time periods either. It was such a light read the toing and froing was of little consequence.

      I would have to agree there were too many characters. Yes, they were bit players but I felt they were there to pad out the story and added very little, particularly towards the end of the book where all the sisters were fleshed out.

      The latest jargon in my industry is " fatigue management". Its talked about, but never addressed...LOL

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  18. Still haven't finished the book, Moi, so don't want to comment on the relationship between Jimmy and Dolly at present (just left him on his knees in the restaurant.....
    I find the book most enjyable, very readable and the sort of nbook I would like to read
    Criticisms: Poorly researched (I don't think other novels/autobiographies even constitute a secondary source of info
    and:
    I haven't learnt anything so far to add to my knowledge

    Moi - I challenge you to have 'swooned' as your next word for the office

    Give me a week, ladies, and I will be finished..

    P.S. What's happened to Leonie?

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  19. That's okay Madeleinea. We look forward to your comments once you've finished the book

    Interestingly, I think its about at this scene in the restaurant that Dolly loses me.....

    And, my dear, challenge accepted with pleasure. Seems to me it will give me the opportunity to flirt with some old boy when he calls in. Will report back to you next weekend....

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  20. I have finished the book but am reluctant to discuss it until we have all finished.

    Sanmac - have you put Banqo's Ghost to rest yet? I seem to remember a wooden stake, a hammer and some garlic around your neck is all you need.

    Good luck...

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    1. Thank you. I'll need it. One more week to go and I'll have my life back. It has been fun but I could do without the pressure.

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  21. Without revealing the substance of the plot, Moi - I am certainly able to discuss relationships between the main (past or passing) charactors. I felt they were skilfully drawn...
    Jimmie and Dolly definitely had more than a little of power and control issues.... but that can be expected in a long term relationship - especially when the couple are engaged in a sexual relationship....
    Jimmie and Vivian - early days - depeening friendship....
    Vivian and Henry - domination power and control++++
    Just my opinion...

    AND -how is the swooning Moi? Captivated anyone yet?

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  22. Although I found I became engrossed with the storyline, even rushing to finish the book, I can't say that any of the characters did much for me.

    I did enjoy Jimmy's characterisation, as well as Vivian, but found the others , even Laurel, pretty one dimensional.

    Thought the book was much longer than it needed to be by having characters , such as the siblings, whom didn't really add much. Gap fillers- little more.

    All in all, I felt this a heftier version of your usual train reading fodder ( who said McLiterature ?)

    The only thing about this book that has left any impression on me whatsoever is the concept of secrets.

    Should a daughter be so interested in her mothers past? Is this normal ?And having gleaned the past, shouldn't she have shared it with her siblings ? Is it not odd to share with a brother but not sisters ?

    Did you not think that this was all a little far fetched? That family relationships

    Maybe this is because I hail from a family built on secrets

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  23. Many people are traceing 'family secrets' through Family Trees, Moi - and I am as curious as anyone else....
    I think the daughter and son witnessing Murder by a Bigamist (for both she was) would stimulate anyone's interest whether family or not..

    How she got away with assumming another's identity - I don't know.. but during the Blitz many documents were lost, and applying for them again - even someone elses would not be difficult...

    What gets me is the identitcation of bodies found in the Blitz... was a wedding ring enough? Or would most husbands be asked - or demand- to see the body to ensure the death? This is where I think it missed out on research data.

    But I enjoyed it - very much. It is nice to know Australia - and Brisbane can produce good authors capable of holding ones interest as much as this one did moine

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  24. I found the "deception" hard to accept for the reasons madeleine mentioned although I guess many authors present us with unlikely events and it all depends on whether the author can cause us to suspend our disbelief.

    As an only child I can't really comment on what siblings might or might not do as I have no experience. Although I do know from my OH who is one of seven and from my three sons, that there are very different relationships between siblings - my three are not close to each other at all and are like chalk and cheese.

    All I can say is that, like moi, it kept my interest right to the end as very readable light entertainment.

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  25. I found Moton's first book "The Shifting Fog" published 2006 in the 'reduced' bin at the local Bookshop, and having enjoyed her latest book naturally went for the previous book. You wouldn't believe it but it was if I was reading a book by one of the Bronte sisters. Morton's style has certainly evolved since then - and for the better, which is not the case for many authors, who write a novel which is popular (e.g "Gone with the Wind" and then cannot write another. I say Good Luck to Morton - I will follow her books with interest.

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  26. I finished the book last night and I apologise for keeping you waiting. Morton does do the dual timeline well, doesn't she? Well-plotted, the ending fitted well with the story and the extraneous material(and the omissions)kept me from solving the mystery. Didn't they smoke a lot?? I do think it could have been shorter,though. Laurel's story did intrude at times.

    I think I preferred 'The Shifting Fog', her first book and the first I read. It's often the case, I find, that a reader's 'favourite' is the first they read, particularly if the books are similar in structure, as are Morton's.

    BTW, Madeleine, in case you aren't aware, 'The Shifting Fog' was also published as 'The House at Riverton'. Same book, different title.

    Are we ready for another Group Read?

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  27. Morton's The Secret Keeper has just won ABIAs General' fiction Book of the Year' 2013. (see award winners) The literary fiction winner is M L Stedman's The Light Between Oceans. Should we consider this for our next Group Read?

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    1. Happy to give The Light Between The Oceans a go.

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  28. I don't think I'll be able to do the next one. We are off in less than four weeks and I'm working at Hansard for three of those four as it is Estimates week and it will be very long days in parliament. Will catch up when I come back at the end of August although I will keep in touch via the ipad.

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  29. perhaps we should read "Hansard"?

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    1. Shades of 'Yes Minister'? heehee

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  30. Just been paying bill;s and had a look at the Bookstore..... Rod Stewarts Autobiography, Dan Brown's Inferno
    Kaye Saunders Deadly Australian Women......
    suggestions only
    Stedman's Book - also fine...

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  31. As you all have e-readers (I think) I could send you the new novel about Zelda Fitzgerald which I have already sent to sanmac. I will read it while I am away. It would save you all money! It's called, 'Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald'.

    http://www.amazon.com/Z-A-Novel-Zelda-Fitzgerald/dp/1250028655

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    1. Given all the current talk about The Great Gatsby that would be fantabulous Jaywalker. Thank you

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  32. WHO is Zelda Fitzgerald

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  33. Don't worry - I now know who Zelda is!!!!

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  34. Has everyone read Gatsby? Maybe we should revisit it? and Zelda to follow?

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  35. It's available here to either read online or download to your e-reader:

    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200041h.html

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    1. Sorry - that one ij just to read online.

      It's here as an e-pub file.

      http://www.ebooks-for-all.com/bookmarks/detail/The-Great-Gatsby/onecat/0.html

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    2. Thanks for the link, Jaywalker. I have a dog-eared paperback but it is good to have a digital copy as well. I know about the Gutenberg site but the other one looks good, too. Another success for supersleuth JW. :)

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  36. Shall we choose our next group read? There are 5 suggestions so far but we've yet to hear from you Moi. A Bookfest bargain?

    Fiction
    Inferno, Dan Brown
    The Great Gatsby, Scott F Fitzgerald
    The Light Between Oceans, M L Stedman

    Non Fiction
    Deadly Australian Women, Kaye Saunders
    Rod: The Autobiography, Rod Stewart

    I'm not a fan of Dan Brown or Rod Stewart. Happy to read along but would prefer one of the others.

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  37. Happy to read anything other than Rod Stewart thank you.....

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  38. Whatever you choose....I'll be happy with

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    1. Let's read Gatsby. Moi and I are intending to reread it. It's a free download, Jaywalker has provided the link. We'll see how good her memory is, if she is able to post a comment or two. If you've not read it, Madeleine, it will be good to have a first timer's perspective. We can then critique the movie. haha.

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