Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. This book will be released on August 13, 2019.
I tend to wait at least a day after finishing a book to post a review, but I am highly annoyed right now and just want to put this book behind me. I maybe at one point while reading this ARC said are you serious and then started muttering to myself about just DNFing it. I don’t like to do that with NetGalley reads though, so I may have to rethink on that in the future. This book was all over the place. I thought I was sitting down to read a solid mystery about a woman returning (Elizabeth) to her hometown in Ireland and finding out about her mother’s (Patricia) past. Instead we don’t really find out about it, we hear bits and pieces via other inconsequential secondary characters. The author throwing Patrica’s POV in did nothing to help things. The plot with Elizabeth’s son came out of nowhere and just made zero sense. Maybe if Norton actually spent time building up any of these characters I would have cared more.
“A Keeper” follows Elizabeth Keane as she returns back home to settle her deceased mother’s (Patricia) estate. Elizabeth hates being back in her hometown and feels like a failure. She’s a single mother raising her 17 year old son and dealing with the fall out of her marriage still. While staying at her mother’s home, Elizabeth is informed there’s a codicil to her mother’s will and also finds letters from her father that he wrote to her mother almost 40 years ago. From there we have Elizabeth traveling back to where her father lived and finding out about what led her mother to him all of those years ago.
So I was unsympathetic to Elizabeth during this entire book. She pretty much sucks from beginning to end. She didn’t really stay in touch with her mother and even when she was dying didn’t seem to see the need to be there. She acts put out by things and is reluctant to be away from her son. Most of the book is Elizabeth remembering how her mother raised her and either finding fault with it and or missing her at the same time. She goes on and on about her marriage and the her POV’s were so scattered. I don’t think Norton did a very good job developing Elizabeth. She was a chess piece to move around while he focused on what he wanted the story to be about, Patricia.
The second POV flashes back to Patricia when she was in her early 30s. After more than a decade taking care of her ill mother. Patricia is a bit lonely and when her friend pushes her to put an ad in a farmer’s magazine she ends up starting correspondence with a man named Edward Foley. No spoilers, but things are not what they seem there.
So Norton goes back and forth between Elizabeth and Patricia. I pretty much guessed most of what is revealed. It wouldn’t have been an issue if the plot had been put together very well. I just found myself bored from beginning to end of this book.
I can’t say much about anyone else in this book because they are not developed well at all. We have Elizabeth’s son Zach, her ex-husband, Patricia’s ex friend Rosemary and Edward Foley. Don’t even get me started on why we get a separate POV for Rosemary, it wasn’t necessary and added nothing to the story.
The writing was not very good I found. I just think that there were too many things happening and that Norton didn’t make sure that both POVs worked well. Maybe if there was no Patricia POV that would have helped flesh out Elizabeth’s POV more. The book then could have been more reliant on the mystery aspect. I thought that whole thing fizzled out. Elizabeth finds out about things and just does nothing. I just had to shake my head on all of that effort to tell this story for no big pay off.
The flow was not great. The POVs between Patricia and Elizabeth and the mini POVs for Edward and Rosemary just didn’t hang together well.
The book’s setting is Ireland in the present and the 1970s. Maybe I have been reading too much Tana French and Maeve Binchy, but the book didn’t feel “Irish” to me. Even Elizabeth didn’t. Maybe because she had been away for so long, but there’s no mention of her having an accent or how her relatives sound, etc. We get descriptions of the house and farm and that’s it.
The ending was definitely a disappointment. I mean you can guess what was coming based on the context of everything you read before. The stuff with Zach should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Well reading up on Norton, I found out that he is gay so this book fits the Rainbow Flag square. I wish I had liked the book more. A lot of Goodreads friends didn’t like this one either and suggested another book of his “Holding.”