Updated: February 7, 2011 at 12:00 am
My husband went to the library recently and chose a book for me to read. Normally, he’d have as much luck choosing a book I’d enjoy as he would a swimsuit I’d wear. But this time luck was with us, and Tatiana de Rosnay’s “A Secret Kept” was a good fit.
The book begins with a scene that actually takes place in the middle of the story. The scene lets the reader know a little about what to expect.
Some critics despair when books begin in this manner, but I don’t mind it at all. The method is much like that used in oral storytelling.
When someone asks me if I’m married, I don’t say, “Yes, I met a handsome young man at a party 20 years ago.” Instead, I say, “Yes, I’ve been married 18 years, we have four children and live in Colorado Springs.” Then I might go back to add the handsome young man part.
The beginning scene from “A Secret Kept” is set in the lobby of a French hospital. A middle-aged man, Antoine Rey, is waiting to hear whether his sister, Mélanie, will survive a car accident they’ve just experienced. Of course, there’s a mystery wrapped up in the accident.
Only moments before Mélanie veers off the road, she tells Antoine she’s remembered something important about their childhood. Antoine suspects the secret is about their mother, Clarisse, who died when Antoine and Mélanie were young children.
While readers and Antoine patiently wait for Mélanie to recover, Antoine works through the sadness of his recent divorce, difficulties with single parenting, and the feelings he has for his aging father. Antoine also falls for the mortician at the hospital Mélanie recovers in. The mortician is easygoing and fun — exactly what Antoine needs in his life.
Eventually, readers and Antoine learn that Mélanie’s secret is about their mother. But that secret only makes Antoine more curious about Clarisse’s past. As he tries to learn more about her, he also learns a great deal about himself.
“A Secret Kept” is written in first person. That technique, as well as the raw, candid way the author approaches Antoine and his struggles, makes the book feel personal. It has the feel of a diary, and its characters are memorable.
So while I still won’t enlist my husband to buy my swimwear, I will encourage him to pick me up another book. “A Secret Kept” is a great read.