Review: A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay

Title:  A Secret Kept
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0312593317
Pages: 320 pages
Format: Audio & Hard Cover

About the Book: (from This stunning new novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.

It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island—over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash. Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death. Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.

Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming, A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.

Setting: Paris France/Noirmoutier Island

My favorite part of a book review is researching the setting. This was especially enjoyable for A Secret Kept. I did not realize the disappearing road, “ the Passage du Gois” existed.  I loved looking at pictures of Noirmoutier Island, such a beautiful place!


Le Passage de Gois ou Gôa is a natural, periodically flooded passage leading to the island of Noirmoutier in France. It is located between Île de Noirmoutier and Beauvoir-sur-Mer, in the department of Vendée. It is flooded twice a day by the high tide.

Every year, a foot race – the Foulées du Gois– is held across it, starting at the onset of the high tide.

port-noirmoutier Noirmoutier island lies off the coast at Beauvoir-sur-Mer, on the other side of the Passage du Gois. This passage is passable at low tide. In 1971, a bridge was built at Fromantine, so that it is now also possible to reach the island at high water by car. The island has a rich maritime history shown by the ratio between the number of boats on the island of Noirmoutier and compared to occupants.

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About the Author: Tatiana de Rosnay was born on September 28th, 1961 in the suburbs of Paris. She is of English, French and Russian descent. Her father is French scientist Joël de Rosnay, her grandfather was painter Gaëtan de Rosnay. Tatiana’s paternal great-grandmother was Russian actress Natalia Rachewskïa, director of the Leningrad Pushkin Theatre from 1925 to 1949.
Tatiana’s mother is English, Stella Jebb, daughter of diplomat Gladwyn Jebb, and great-great-granddaughter of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the British engineer. Tatiana is also the niece of historian Hugh Thomas. Tatiana was raised in Paris and then in Boston, when her father taught at MIT in the 70’s. She moved to England in the early 80’s and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in English literature at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich.

Returning to Paris in 1984, Tatiana became press attaché for Christie’s and then Paris Editor for Vanity Fair magazine till 1993. Since 1992, Tatiana has published ten novels in France (published at Fayard, Plon and EHO).

Sarah’s Key is her first novel written in her mother tongue, English. Sarah’s Key is to be published in 30 countries and has sold over two million copies worldwide. Film rights have also been sold and a movie starring Kristin Scott-Thomas has been released.

Tatiana is married and has two children, Louis and Charlotte. She lives in Paris with her family.

My Review:

I had big expectations when beginning to read, A Secret Kept as I simply loved Tatiana de Rosnay’s previous book, Sarah’s Key.   I liked A Secret Kept, but did not find the story as engaging nor the characters as likeable as in Sarah’s Key.  I chose to read this book due to really enjoying Sarah’s Key, which I read for my book group, Books and Babble. 

The main characters consisted of Melanie and Antoine Rey.   Brother and sister left motherless at a young age.  They have a special bound.  Melanie is single with no children.  Antoine is divorced from Astrid with three children:  Arro, Margaux and Lucas. 

Other characters include Clarisse (mother of Melanie and Antoine), Angele (Antoine’s lover) and Astrid (Antoine’s ex-wife).  Antoine as a character sort of bothered me.  I wanted him to just pick the pieces of his life and move on.  I understood his desire to know his mother, but didn’t find the “secret” so shocking.  It certainly was in the time it happened, but not so much when Antoine discovered the secret.   I thought the relationship between Melanie and Antoine was very believable as was Antoine’s relationship with Astrid.   I actually really like Astrid.  Despite the divorce Astrid was doing her best to co-parent and maintain a good relationship with Antoine.   As for Antoine’s relationship with Angele, the mortician, I just didn’t get it.  That relationship in my opinion didn’t add much to the story. 

Themes within Sarah’s Key include:  family secrets and their impact, loss/grief, acceptance and parenting issues.  Overall, the pace of this book seemed a bit slow to me. I listened to the audio of A Secret Kept and I think that helped to keep my attention. I would have skipped over some of the words in the book due to being unsure of them, so the audio added a dimension to the story that I would have missed if I had read A Secret Kept.

My Rating:   3/5 – I liked Secret’s Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay and may have liked it more if not comparing it to Sarah’s Key in my head.  Liked the book, but did not find myself burning the midnight oil to read a few more pages. 

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Happy Reading!

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing






  1. sara Avatar

    Thanks for linking to my review!! I completely agree with you- I was also disappointed with A Secret Kept especially because I enjoyed Sarah's Key so much!!!

  2. Holly (2 Kids and Tired) Avatar

    I've had this one and Sarah's Key on my wish list for awhile. Bummer that it was kind of disappointing for you. It sounds so good, but sometimes books click and sometimes they don't. I always hate it when I anticipate really liking a book and then I don't.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

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