I cannot tell you how much I loved Sarah’s Key. The story of a young Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Paris and of the woman who learns her story 60 years later was heart-wrenching and so well-written, it has easily become one of my favorite books.
That said, I was very excited to see that the author, Tatiana de Rosnay, released a new novel in the U.S., entitled A Secret Kept, and I picked it up (yeah, I bought it) almost immediately. This story, too, is told in the past and in the present — about a man, Antoine, trying to piece together his mother’s life and the ramifications of her early death.
For her fortieth birthday, Antoine takes his sister, Melanie, on a long-weekend getaway to Noirmoutier Island, site of summer vacations with their family during their childhood. The last time the siblings visited the Island was the summer before their mother unexpectedly died, and the visit brings back many memories for them. On the way back to Paris, Melanie tells Antoine that during the weekend she remembered something about their mother that she must tell him, but then she loses control of the car and they run off the road. Antoine manages to escape unscathed, but Melanie is seriously injured.
So one would think the rest of the story would be about this secret, right? Not so much. Melanie is taken to a hospital in a small French town and cannot remember anything about what she wanted to tell Antoine. The story then seems to become Antoine’s quest to find happiness in his own life — to get over his divorce, to have a decent relationship with his children, to find love again. Though interesting in its own way, this is not the story I wanted to read.
Eventually Melanie remembers what she wanted to tell Antoine and it’s — really no big deal. It does lead Antoine to question the circumstances surrounding their mother’s death, but even that became anti-climactic.
If I wasn’t expecting a different story, this book might have been more enjoyable. Alas, I had hoped for suspense/tension similar to that in Sarah’s Key and I was disappointed.