I won't bore you yet again with my loving tributes to Morton. Well, maybe a little. I've read everything she has written, this book (her latest) being the last in the line, which has put her in the ranks of Tana French and Sarah Waters. That is...WRITE FASTER DAMMIT! I can't get enough.
Morton has a special way about her, and maybe not to everyone's liking, but much to mine. No matter the year in which the story takes place, there is a certain gothic feel. She jumps around in time, usually multi-generational jumps, and there are lots and lots of secrets. Her stories always feature a woman or two, feminine on the outside and steely beneath. And she takes her time with getting on with it. She is a Master Storyteller. To appreciate that you must have patience and trust that she is going to take care of you. So where does she take us this time?
Synopsis: Sixteen year-old Laurel Nicolson is off sulking in her tree house, thinking about her boyfriend, when a strange man wanders up to her country home. Laurel watches as the man approaches Lauren's mother, Dorothy, to which Dorothy's response is to stab the man in the chest, killing him. The trauma of this event has stayed with Laurel her entire life, but only now, fifty years later and at the approach of Dorothy's death, does Laurel begin to question her mother's history.
Morton takes us back to pre-WWII England through the blitz, to when Dorothy was a young woman trying to make it on her own. Of her friend Vivian, who arrived in England from Australia as a catatonic orphan. Of the dashing and charming Jimmy, who fell in love with Dorothy. We learn more about that fateful day in the 1960's when Laurel was that dreamy teenager, and during the modern day, in Laurel's quest to find out the truth. In a story about dreams, friendship, enduring love, betrayal, greed, and the secret lives of women before they marry and become mothers, Morton once again manages to entertain and entrance.
My thoughts: Right out of the gate, I will admit that I was unsure about where this story was going. I love Morton, and I trust her, but the story seemed slow and unremarkable. But the author kept prying up layers, lies, secrets, twists, threads all knotted up and needing to be untangled. And soon, I couldn't stop listening. She had hooked me again.
Morton really does an amazing job of creating unique characters that could stand up and walk off a page. She takes her time in building them, so you really get to know them, their motivations and foibles. One character charmed me, but then I wasn't charmed at all, I was HATING them. I was smitten with another. And another was admirable...the one that made you want to be a better person. The emotions! Of all the players in the novel, I was probably least attached to Laurel. She was the vehicle that moved the story along, doing her research and answering my questions.
Despite the fact that I am used to Morton's trickery and twists, I was completely blown away at the end. I didn't see it coming, and it was crazy memorable and left me speechless for awhile. It takes a lot to make me speechless.
A few words about the audio production: I'm not sure I really need to repeat myself on this topic, but I'm a card-carrying member of the Caroline Lee fan club. She narrates all of the Morton books and she is fabulous, with her delicate little accents and girlish voice. If you can manage to read these books on audio, I would highly recommend it.
Audio book length: 19 hours and 54 minutes (496 pages)
5 out of 5 stars