As her mother approaches her 90th birthday, successful actress Laurel gathers with her younger sisters and brother to celebrate and look back on Dorothy’s full life. But Laurel also can’t help but remember a time 50 years earlier, when she witnessed a stranger visit the family home — and an ensuing tragic event that none of the other girls ever knew about.
Now, thanks in part to a photograph of her mother and a woman named Vivien that one sister finds in some of her mother’s things, Laurel resolves to figure out the cause of the crime she saw — and to finally understand something about her mother’s past. Her investigation leads her to find out more about Vivien, Dorothy, and a young man named Jimmy, and the ways their paths crossed during World War II in London. Readers learn bit by bit about each person and the things they wanted during that difficult time, how their dreams came to pass or were thwarted, and the legacies of regret and guilt that were created because of spur-of-the-moment decisions.
Kate Morton has written a number of fine books about families, friendships and secrets, and this new book is another satisfactory tale that delivers some fine plot twists and characters whose heartaches make you wish you could go back in time and change things for them. I kind of saw some of the plot elements coming but was taken by surprise at exactly how things turned out. That’s what I love about these kinds of books. Not only was the book a great mystery about somewhat dark secrets and some unsavory characters, but the characters were ones I wanted to know and learn about, and I really cared about their fates at the end. I even felt myself feeling a little teary-eyed about the way it came together.
Rated: Mild. There were a few occasions of some mild or moderate language, and some instances of sex, without any real detail. There was some intimation of a few violent acts but few details there either.