The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton: Book Club Discussion Questions

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton is available as one of the Gold Coast Libraries’ Book Club Kits.

**Please be aware that book discussion questions may contain spoilers**


In the summer of 1961, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson lies daydreaming in a tree-house on her family’s Suffolk farm. While her family continues their picnic at the nearby stream, a stranger appears at the farmhouse door – startling Laurel’s mother, Dorothy, as she emerges with baby Gerry on her hip.  What happens next haunts Laurel throughout her adult life, as unanswered questions, ingrained assumptions and misty recollections swirl.

Now in 2011, Laurel is a much loved actress and is content with how her life has unfolded so far. But as her mother’s health deteriorates, Laurel is spurred to finally unravel the truth. Returning to the family home in Suffolk, she sets out to answer an often neglected question – who was my mother before she had me? And why did she make the choices she made that lead to that fateful summer’s day in 1961?

As the story unfolds across three distinct time periods – wartime London of the 1930’s, family life in rural England in the 1960’s, and the present day – Laurel uncovers an intriguing tale of three strangers – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – and the choices each made that tangled their lives irretrievably.

The Secret Keeper is a sweeping tale of friendship and loyalty, intrigue and secrecy, and the strength and longevity of deeply felt human connection. It’s also a reflection on the way our values and choices govern and propel our lives. A brilliant read, where I instantly found myself enveloped within the story world; caring and questioning what was to become of the intricately drawn and likeable characters. I found myself reflecting (days and weeks beyond finishing the book!) on the karmic outcomes for several characters based on their morals and actions, but also finding myself almost forgiving those choices because of the extreme circumstances under which they were made.

Kate Morton is an author whose books I eagerly anticipate disappearing into again.

Discussion questions:

1. How did you respond to the final twists in the story? Were you satisfied, surprised, alarmed or uplifted?

2. Vivien and Dorothy’s childhoods influence their values and choices. Did these characters get the lives, and endings, they deserved?

3. Laurel’s memories of that fateful summer’s day in 1961 drive her to uncover her mother’s background. Would you have pursued the truth so relentlessly?

4. Which character’s story arc did you enjoy following most and why? Dorothy, Vivien, Laurel or Jimmy?

5. In what ways did your impressions grow and change towards your favourite character?

6. How does the backdrop of wartime London heighten character’s choices and reactions? In which instances did it bring out the best and worst in Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy?

Author’s website

Goodreads review