A SECRET KEPT, by Tatiana De Rosnay, was published in 2010 and is 320 pages. I bought it because I loved SARAH’S KEY and wanted to read more by the author. This dark, sensual, family mystery did not disappoint.
Entirely set in France in the present day and in 1974, A SECRET KEPT begins when Antoine Rey, a divorcee in his mid-forties, takes his sister, Mélanie, to their childhood vacation spot, Noirmoutier Island, for her fortieth birthday. Passage to the island is made on a causeway called Le Gois, a road that is only passable at low tide and which becomes treacherous in moments once the water rises. They make the passage and spend an idyllic time on the island, but the devastating events following their holiday set in motion a search for clues surrounding the untimely death of their mother when they were children.
I found myself thinking of Le Gois often while I read the book and watched Antione and Mélanie untangle their family secrets. The more they discover the more their findings threaten to drown them. The revelation of secrets causes Mélanie to pull back the way a cautious driver would at the edge of Le Gois as the waters rise. Antione, on the other hand, races recklessly forward, unable to stop his quest, and gradually becomes empowered by his discoveries.
One of the most intriguing aspects of A SECRET KEPT is Tatiana De Rosnay’s convincing voice as a male narrator. Through Antoine’s family struggles with his teenagers, the wife he loves who left him for another man, and a relationship with a fierce, sexy mortician named Angèle Rouvatier, his mid-life crisis is revealed in raw, potent language.
Another strength of the book is De Rosnay’s portrayal of the difficulties of family life–from sibling relationships, to the aftermath of divorce, to the difficulty of raising children amid crises. She holds nothing back, and while some scenes are painful to read, they are authentic.
For lovers of De Rosnay’s novel SARAH’S KEY, this book is very different from its predecessor, but to me, every bit as enjoyable. In A SECRET KEPT, Tatiana De Rosnay shows her skill at tackling different kinds of fiction with originality and honesty. With a cast of characters I won’t forget and an ending that made me cheer out loud, I highly recommend A SECRET KEPT. I look forward to reading more of Tatiana’s books.
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I had to search the internet for the passage to Noirmoutier, France, and found this amazing video.