Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Secret Kept

A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay

Goodreads summary:

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 opinion:

I was so excited for this book, I loved Sarah's Key, and I was fully expecting the same kind of reading experience from A Secret Kept. Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me. It started off well enough, with Antoine taking his sister to the Ile de Noirmoutier, where they spent the summer as children, as a surprise 40th birthday gift. I thought, how cool that he and his sister have such a close relationship! My brother is one of my best friends too, but I am sure he wouldn't think to take me on a vacation for my birthday. To get to the Ile De Noirmoutier, they must cross the Gois causeway, which is claimed by the sea at high tide. You must time it right to cross, or wait and watch for the tides to recede before you can cross. There is something so romantic about this, an island with an almost secret road.

Unfortunately, for me, the book takes a steady downturn after Antonio and his sister Melanie leave the island and return to their lives. Antoine's character is pathetically annoying, weak, whiny, and ineffective. He loathes himself, his children loathe him most of the time, his ex-wife seemed to merely tolerate him like one would a spoiled child - but I ended up loathing him too much to like him at all. The "secret" didn't really seem that important either- I felt kind of let down by it - and I totally guessed it right away. That didn't help either.

If you pick up this book hoping for another Sarah's Key, put it back down. I feel that this book maybe overshadowed by the greatness (in my opinion) of its predecessor, and that if this had come out first, then it might not seem as bad.

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