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Born in Australia, Kate Morton is the eldest of three sisters. She attended a small country school and fell in love with books at a young age; she names Enid Blyton as her favorite author. Morton is an award-winning and best-selling author of five novels. These novels have sold more than 10 million copies in 42 countries. Currently, she resides in London with her husband and three children. I have just recently become acquainted with Morton’s work and was surprised by how much I enjoyed the titles I’ve been able to read so far.
The House at Riverton, also known under the title of The Shifting Fog, was published in 2006 and was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller, a New York Times bestseller, the General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards, and was also nominated for Most Popular Book at the British Book Awards in 2008. Like all of Morton’s books I’ve read thus far, this novel switches back and forth between present time (1999) and the past (the early 20th century). The story follows Grace as she relates her part in the grand drama surrounding the house at Riverton and the family who lived there. For a first novel, I felt that this one was very well done, although there were a few questions that I didn’t get answered in the end. I figured out some of the mysteries before they were revealed, but I was totally surprised by the big one. Love, loss, family, friends, it’s all covered in this sweeping story.
The Forgotten Garden is Morton’s second novel. I have yet to read this novel but it’s on hold at my library and I’m (patiently) waiting for it. It was published in 2008, was the #1 bestseller in Australia, a Sunday Times #1 bestseller, winner of the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year (2009), and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2010). This story includes a lost child, a terrible secret, and a mysterious inheritance. The Sunday Telegraph calls it, “A delicious book to get lost in.” I look forward to getting into this one!
The Distant Hours is the other of Morton’s books that I have not read and it’s not available at my local library, so I’m not sure when I’ll get to read it. It includes a castle, so I’m already enthralled. Published in 2010, it was also a Sunday Times #1 bestseller, a New York Times bestseller, a (commended) Christina Stead Award, and Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards winner in 2010. The story follows Edie as she uncovers her mother’s past. The US Library Journal said, “Featuring a fresh and thrilling gothic mystery, cinematic storytelling, and fully developed characters who possess layers of deliciously surprising secrets, this complex story is developed at a leisurely but compelling pace that keeps readers hooked.”
The Secret Keeper, Morton’s fourth title, was actually the first one I read. Immediately, I was sucked into the tragic event that Laurel witnesses as a teen in 1961 and how she tries to solve the reason behind it as her mother nears the end of her life in 2011. Morton’s characters are likeable even with their flaws and the pacing is constant, neither too fast-paced nor too slow. The Secret Keeper was published in 2012, was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller, a New York Times bestseller, winner of the General Fiction Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards (2013), winner of the Christina Stead Award, Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards (2012), and winner of The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year (2013).
The Lake House is the most recent novel, published in 2015. Once again it landed as a New York Times bestseller, a #1 bestseller in Australia, and a Sunday Times #1 bestseller. This one was probably my favorite of the three I read. The female lead in it is Sadie Sparrow, on leave from her job with the Metropolitan Police and staying with her grandfather in a quiet seaside town. She comes across an unsolved case that she just can’t let go of and recruits the help of neighbors and the family of the victim from 70 years ago. I have to admit, I didn’t see the ending coming, but it was very satisfying.
Kate Morton has a thing for secrets, especially ones held by family. All of her novels bring the past and present together, using major historical events as a backdrop. I am very pleased to have found a writer who writes stories to get lost in.
If you get a chance, check out Morton’s website. She has videos and inspirational background for all of her books as well as book club study questions.