The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This book is told in three different timelines, 1940s, 1960s, and 2011 England with four different narrators: Laurel (1960s + 2011) and Dorothy, Jamie, and Violet (1940s).

1960s

Greenacres

Laurel Nicolson is 16-years old. They are having a party for her little brother Gerald, but instead of going out to the yard to join them in the picnic, she stole away from her large family to the barn loft to read a play and dream about her motorcycle driving bad boy crush.

She decides to go in the treehouse as it is cooler and a better spot. She is sitting up there and spots her mom, Dorothy, holding her little brother and the special birthday cake cutting knife. When all of a sudden a man approaches her mother and brother. She can see her mother is upset, scared? She sets Gerald down as the man speaks to her, and then Laurel watches her mother stab the man, killing him.

The police are called and when questioned, both Laurel and Dorothy’s stories match up with self-defense and that ends the event. Laurel forgets all about it and when she turns 18, leaves the farm and heads to London to pursue acting.

2011

London and Greenacres

Laurel has become a successful actress and has never returned home. She’s stayed in touch and isn’t separated from her family, she just never returned to the farm. Now it is her mom’s 90th birthday, and the family is getting all together to celebrate. Dorothy has dementia and resides in a facility, so Laurel decides to stay at Greenacres.

onthefarm

While there the whole memory of the killing comes back to her. More questions arise when she looks through their mother trunks that were always off-limits growing up. Laurel realizes that she has no clue who her mother was, and sets out to find out who she was.

I thought I knew my mother, but I was wrong.

1940s

London

Dorothy Smitham has always wanted the finer things in life, to be more-have more. She falls in love with Jimmy Metcalfe, aspiring photographer. She wants to get married, but Jimmy wants to have a job, money, and a place. He goes to London and travels around photographing the city and World War II.

Dorothy follows him to London and starts renting an old closet in a boarding house (housing shortage) and searching for a job. Her friend’s father, a psychologist, gets her hired as a companion to a Lady.

There Dorothy gets the taste of the high life and becomes consumed with moving up. She has always loved nice things and now she lusts after it-doing all she can to be the one the lady leaves her money and wealth to. She cuts all her true friends and Jimmy, to make sure she is exactly what her employer wants.

Dorothy also becomes obsessed with the beautiful socialite across the street, Violet Jenkins. She meets her at a WAC meeting and does all she can to emulate her, and believes them to be friends.

But when Dorothy is betrayed and finds Violet to be at fault, she searches out Jimmy and has him join her in a plan to get back at Violet and get the money to run away and start a farm.

But things don’t according to plan. Violet and Jimmy fall in love and someone winds up dead. Will Laurel be able to handle the truth about her mother?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was really interesting, completely compelling, and had one fantastic twist of an ending.

For more books that take place during World War I, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Phantom of the Opera

Strawberry Shortcake

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Thoughts before cooking:

In Strawberry Shortcake Murder, they give a recipe for Hannah’s shortcake. But like in Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, I didn’t like the recipe they gave for their titular treat. It just wasn’t how I like my shortcake. So here is recipe my family likes to use.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 Boxes of Fresh Strawberries
  • 1-2 Cans of spray Whipped Cream
  • 2 1/4 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of White Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/3 Cup of Shortening
  • 1 Beaten Egg
  • 2/3 Cup of Milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour one 8-inch round cake pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour; baking powder, and salt.
  4. With a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and milk.
  6. Stir until combined.
  7. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until brown.
  9. Let it cool.
  10. Wash and slice your strawberries
  11. Slice cake in half, horizontally, making two layers.
  12. One one layer, place strawberries, covering them with whipped cream, and another layer of strawberries.
  13. Place the second layer of  cake on top of the strawberry/whipped cream. Cover in whipped cream, and top with strawberries.

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Thoughts after cooking:

It was my first time making this cake and I loved it. I made for my niece’s birthday, and our only problem was that her birthday party occurred on cake one of the hottest days of the year. The cake melted, but it was so good we ate the whole thing.

eatingcake

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For more recipes inspired by the Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Butter Berry Cookies

For more dessert recipes, go to Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cupcakes

For more recipes, go to Broccoli & Tortellini Salad with Pesto