A Keeper

Atria. Aug. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781982117764. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781982117788. F
Norton scores another winner with his sophomore novel (after Holding), weaving a captivating tale of loneliness, love, and family. When her mother dies, Elizabeth Keane returns from New York to the Irish village of Buncarragh for the first time in 20 years. Clearing out Patricia’s house, Elizabeth discovers a cache of letters that partially reveals the truth about her parents. Intrigued, Elizabeth travels to the tiny village of Muirnish to uncover the secrets of her mother’s marriage and her own birth 40 years ago. A deliciously gothic tone permeates Patricia’s story, which unfolds in chapters alternating between Patricia then and Elizabeth now, drawing readers into the creepy setting of Castle House, an isolated farm by the sea in the shadow of a ruined castle where dark deeds inevitably ensue. Elizabeth finds herself through tracing her mother’s story, a story validating the value of family and love, in whatever configuration.
VERDICT Norton is a teller of beguiling tales, but the author’s true strength is in his grasp of human nature, giving emotional authenticity to his characters. Anyone who enjoys a well-crafted novel, skillfully imbued with drama and gothic sensibility, will love this book and clamor for more from Norton. [See Prepub Alert, 2/4/19.]

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