Antoine Rey thought he would surprise is sister, Melanie, with a seaside vacation for her 40th birthday. He knew taking her back to their favorite vacation spot from childhood would be just the thing to snap her out of her birthday slump. Antoine remembers nothing but beauty, sand, ocean and happy families from Noirmoutier Island where his family spent their summer vacations. That was thirty years ago though - before his mother suddenly died.
As Antoine and Melanie enjoy their long weekend by the sea, darker memories start popping up. Things long forgotten that cast a much different view on the Rey family and their happy summer vacations. On the last morning there, Melanie remembers something. Something so unbelievable, she doesn’t know how to tell her brother. On the car ride home, she suddenly finds the courage, but as she begins to tell her brother what she’s remembered, she’s overcome by emotion and drives the car off the side of the road, badly injuring herself. With his sister in the hospital, with no memory of the wreck, Antoine is left with nothing but worry and doubt. Antoine starts digging into his family’s history and his mother’s death. How could the things he’s discovering possibly be true? Is everything Antoine ever knew about his family a lie?
On the surface, “A Secret Kept” is about a dark family secret coming to light after being buried for many years. But at its core, it’s about a man trying to confront his past and reclaim his future. Antoine is a recently divorced 40-something man with teenage children who no longer need him and a job that has become monotonous. Life is not what he had expected it to be. By digging into his past and taking a closer look at those family relationships, Antoine hopes to save his future relationships.
De Rosnay is an expert storyteller, something she proved with her debut novel “Sarah’s Key.” Even though “A Secret Kept” isn’t as suspenseful or nail-biting as her debut, it was still well written and compelling. Her character development draws you in. Antoine is both sympathetic and heroic. He’s a good person, and flawed. In other words, very real. The reader becomes invested in his story and life.
With perfectly painted French landscapes, de Rosnay brings this man’s story to life with beauty and pain. “A Secret Kept” asks the tough questions of how well do you really know your family and does knowing everything change anything.
Readers of “Sarah’s Key” shouldn’t expect the same suspense and mystery with “A Secret Kept.” What they can expect is a perfectly drawn story of a man struggling to come to terms with his past and shed light on his future.
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