Book reviews

Archive for the ‘Morton – Kate’ Category

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton


Mum suggested ages ago that I should read something by her favourite author, Kate Morton, so as a dutiful daughter (hmm) I read The Lake House. I enjoyed the story, and also enjoyed talking about the book with Mum. The next thing I knew, The Secret Keeper turned up from under Mum and Dad’s Christmas tree for me. When I unwrapped my present, Mum mentioned that she hadn’t read this particular book, so would I please pass it on to her once I finished….

I loved the idyllic setting of The Lake House, which featured a mysteriously abandoned home and a story about the family who lived there a long time ago, and the woman who re-discovers the house. I remember the story as being a comfort read, with a disappointingly predictable twist at the end. (Mum unwillingly agreed that the twist was obvious).

The Secret Keeper also featured an idyllic moved house and past, and the story also moved back and forwards during time, although The Secret Keeper was told across three times during the character’s lives, namely WW2, the early 1960’s and the present. The story starts in the early 1960’s at a country house by a stream, a picnic being enjoyed by a happy family consisting of Mum, Dad, four daughters and a son, when a mysterious male visitor was murdered by Mum using a big knife.

In the present, Dorothy, the mother, is in her nineties and dying in hospital. Dorothy’s children are old too, although still working and successful in their fields. Laurel, who was a witness to the actual murder, decides that the time has come to find out why her mother committed the murder. Since Dorothy is asleep most of the time, and isn’t often coherent when she is awake, Laurel has to start asking questions of people from her mother’s past. She learns that the victim was a neighbour of her mother during wartime in London.

The story flips between Dorothy’s life in London during the war and Laurel’s present as she spends time with her sisters and brother caring for their mother, and trying to solve the mystery of the murder.

I expect I would have enjoyed this story more if I had waited longer in between reading this and The Lake House. I probably won’t read another Kate Morton book for some time, as I found The Secret Keeper too similar to The Lake House and guessed the twist by about half way through the novel. If I’m being really picky, a hard edit would also have seen some of the WW2 stuff disappear from the story without being missed. My biggest whinge was about the physical book itself which was uncomfortable to read because the book was too heavy and difficult to open. A story of this size should have been on a bigger page. My paperback edition was published by Allen & Unwin.

Anyway, I’ve finished the story and have set the book aside to give to Mum. Her birthday is coming up soon and I’m hoping she will see the funny side if I re-wrap The Secret Keeper for her.



The Lake House by Kate Morton


My mother recommended Australian author Kate Morton to me ages ago, and I ignored her recommendation. Mum only ever read beauty books by Sophie Loren and Elizabeth Taylor, biographies about old film stars, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and the Queen Mother, and Agatha Christie novels. I love Agatha Christie’s stories, but the rest of Mum’s reading matter I can do without. (I’m fairly sure Sophie Loren was blessed with wonderful genes, and no matter how much spaghetti I eat, I am never going to look sultry or glamourous. Sometimes you just have to accept that what works for one of the most beautiful women in the world may not work for you). Anyway, I’m not sure what made Mum start reading novels, but after she read one book by Kate Morton, she promptly went out and bought every other book she had written.

Eventually, under sufferance, I picked up The Lake House by Kate Morton and sat down to read, fully expecting to roll my eyes and sigh like a petulant teenager at my long suffering mother’s choice of novel, before recommending a much better book to Mum. (I know, I know. I deserve a smack).

Half an hour later I was completely absorbed in the story of a family living in a lovely country house in Cornwall during the 1930s, and the mysterious disappearance of their child. There is also a present day story involving a disgraced detective becoming absorbed by the mystery of the now abandoned house and the child’s disappearance and of course, she sets out to solve the mystery. The story moves easily across the timeframes.

The characters in The Lake House are lovely too. They are believable and on the whole, good people. Even when their behaviour is immoral or suspect, the reader still sides with these characters and wants the best for them. And while I liked the characters, particularly Alice Edenvale, I loved the family’s home, Loeanneth. The house is charming, with secret tunnels, beautiful gardens, a swing in a tree, a boathouse, lake and river. What more could anyone want?

My only criticism is that the story’s central mystery, which kept me going for nearly 500 pages, was tied up in the last few pages with a string of coincidences. (I tried to discuss my dissatisfaction regarding the ending with Mum, but she wasn’t having any of it. She said the ending was perfect).

I actually have a great idea for how the story could have ended, but can’t go into details here without spoiling the book for other readers as my idea involves some changes to the earlier part of the story.

I’m planning to read more books by Kate Morton and can happily recommend The Lake House, particularly as a comfort or holiday read. Thanks, Mum.



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