Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A SECRET KEPT by Tatiana De Rosnay (2010)

If you love being read to, then get yourself a copy of Macmillan Audio's unabridged audio book of Tatiana De Rosnay's A SECRET KEPT, masterfully read by Simon Vance.

Protagonist Antoine Rey organizes a surprise 40th birthday getaway for his younger sister Melanie at Noirmoutier, an island where they spent several pleasurable summers as small children with their parents and grandparents. It's been 30 years since the Reys' last visit, the summer before their mother Clarisse died unexpectedly. Antoine and Melanie reminisce about those halcyon days, but the visit also triggers in Melanie a memory that unsettles her.

When Melanie finds the courage to disclose this troubled memory to Antoine on their drive back to Paris, the car veers off the road and Melanie, a wisp of a woman to begin with (and the mirror image of her mother), ends up fighting for her life in a provincial hospital. There, Antoine meets a remarkable woman, Angele, who happens to be the hospital mortician. And, although her work day is filled with death, it is Angele who infuses new life into Antoine.

Months later as Melanie is recovering at home in Paris she tells Antoine the dark secret about their mother, a taboo topic that causes both of them pain. As Antoine copes with other losses in his life involving his ex wife Astrid and their teenaged children, he struggles with the idea that perhaps he never really knew the real Clarisse and tries to figure out a way to make peace with his past.

Written with exquisite attention to the complications and messiness of ordinary lives and the human capacity to endure, De Rosnay shows that some secrets, no matter how painful, are meant to be told.

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