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In 1959 rural England, 16-year-old Laurel Nicholson sees a stranger walking up to her house. The stranger encounters Laurel's mother, Dorothy, and dies after Dorothy stabs him. Although in shock that her warm, imaginative, loving parent is capable of such violence, Laurel keeps the family secret. Many years later, as Laurel and her siblings gather to be with their mother in her final days, a photograph of Dorothy and another young woman in the early days of World War II triggers Laurel's curiosity about her mother's youth in London during the Blitz, and Laurel gradually uncovers her mother's secret. Flashbacks of Dorothy's life reveal the high emotions and rash actions that severely impacted her and the lives of those around her. Verdict Best-selling Australian author Morton (The Distant Hours) has written an absorbing tale of friendship, desire, and jealousy set against the turbulent backdrop of a country at war. Cleverly revealing more of each character's strengths and flaws as the layers of the secret are exposed, Morton's riveting novel startles the reader with an unexpected ending. Sure to be in demand by Morton's many fans. [See Prepub Alert, 5/15/12.]-Joy Gunn, Henderson Libs., NV (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Australian Morton's (The Distant Hours, 2010) latest will appeal to fans of Daphne du Maurier, Susanna Kearsley, and Audrey Niffenegger with its immensely relatable characters, passion, mystery, and twist ending. Laurel Nicholson is a teenager when she witnesses a shocking crime: her gentle, kind mother, Dorothy, kills a man. It becomes a family secret that Laurel never divulges or tries to fathom until five decades later, when Dorothy is on her deathbed, and Laurel finds a photograph of her mother with an old friend, snapped back in 1941, when Dorothy was barely out of her teens. As Laurel begins to dig, her burning questions become, Who was Vivien Jenkins, and why was she once so important to Dorothy? With the narrative shifting between Laurel, Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy, a man who also profoundly affected Dorothy's life long ago, both reader and Laurel breathlessly hurtle into an astounding family secret that unfolds slowly and temptingly. Despite some loose threads and rather too leisurely pacing, this is likely to keep readers reading into the wee hours.--Trevelyan, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist