By Tatiana De Rosnay, St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 305 pages
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay is a tale of loss, hope and the enduring power of family. When Antoine Rey, a divorced, middle-aged architect, takes his sister Melanie to Noirmoutier Island to celebrate her 40th birthday, the trip awakens powerful memories.
They haven’t returned to the island since their mother died 30 years earlier, and Melanie is reminded of something particularly disturbing about their last summer there—so troubling, in fact, that she crashes the car on their drive home to Paris before she can reveal what she remembers to Antoine. What family secret could be so terrible, and what had their mother been hiding? As Antoine struggles to uncover the mysteries of his family’s past, he must confront his own demons, including his destroyed marriage and troubled relationship with his kids.
With lyrical, understated prose, de Rosnay crafts a compelling story about choices people make to keep a family from being torn apart. While the character of Melanie is never fully realized, de Rosnay’s rendering of Antoine is more nuanced and sympathetic. And yet, Antoine’s romance with a sexy mortician feels slightly forced and the second half of the book loses some steam—in fact, the actual reveal of the secret is less than shocking. Fans of romance and intrigue will enjoy this novel, but readers expecting another Sarah’s Key may be disappointed.
Reviewed by Laura Di Giovine