Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Secret Kept

Author: Tatiana De Rosnay
How I got this book: Given as a gift
My rating: 5/5
Read from 1-2-1-8

Goodreads synopsis:
This stunning new novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.
It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood.  Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach.  It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island—over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased.  But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer.  When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.
Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash.  Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death.  Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.
Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children.  How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself?  Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming, A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.

My thoughts:

This is another one of those books that I had sitting on my shelf for way too long. My boyfriend got it for me as a Valentine's day gift last year, so, almost a year. :S As I think I've already mentioned, I really enjoy catchy first lines. This book's first line, not so catchy

"I am shown into a small, drab room, and told to sit down and wait." 
It doesn't jump out at me. But, I kept reading and I have to say, this is an absolutely amazing novel. Set in France, it starts out with a brother and sister, (Antoine and Melanie) taking a vacation for Melanie's birthday. They are driving back, when suddenly there is an accident. This accident causes the beginning of a new relationship for Antoine, the unveiling of long kept family secrets, and the small steps toward healing for Antoine and his own children.

 Of all the characters, I enjoyed Margaux and Angele the most.  Margaux is Antoine's daughter, and for much of the novel she is a silent, sullen, typical teenager. But throughout the novel she grows into a more thoughtful, mature young woman. She has to deal with a lot of life changing events in a short time, and for the most part, she handles them exceptionally well.

Angele is Antoine's new love interest. They meet at the hospital where Melanie has to stay for a few weeks after her accident. Angele is a mortician, who is good at what she does. She cares for her patients with a great deal of dignity and sensitivity. Despite her serious job, she has a good head on her shoulders. She is strong, sexy, confident, and has an ironic sense of humor.

There are a lot of little random personal connections, to friends and also to other books that jumped out at me while reading. Antoine's birthday is January 7th, which is the same date as my best friend's birthday.

Antoine and Melanie's mothers' name is Clarisse, and when I read that, Silence of the Lambs instantly jumped into my head even though I've never seen any of that franchise of movies.

Early on in the book, there is mention of a character being from Uppsala, which is located in Sweden. I just finished reading The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo a few weeks back, and there is mention of Uppsala in that novel as well.

The word "akimbo" is used by one of the characters (I forget which one) and that made me think back to the novel "Dirk Danger Loves Life" that I just finished a week ago. The main character in that novel, Cheeseball, uses the phrase often.

Aside from the various connections, this book is very emotionally gripping. It made me cry and gave me chills. It also has several twists and turns and the plot often keeps you guessing. There's even room for interpretation with one of the main events of the story. It does eventually get explained, but, the suspense that the open ended nature of that event is excellent.

There are a couple of things I'm curious about that I would love some opinions on:
Do you prefer catchy first lines, or do dull lines ever give you some incentive to read further on in the book?
Also, as you've been reading lately has there been anything in the book that you are currently reading which makes you think of other books or personal things?

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