The Keep­er of Secrets

Julie Thomas
  • Review
By – April 10, 2014

The sto­ry of the Nazi loot­ing of art from Jew­ish fam­i­lies has been well doc­u­ment­ed by his­to­ri­ans. The Keep­er of Secrets per­son­al­izes this tragedy in a fast-paced sto­ry of one young boy and one very valu­able vio­lin. The pre­cious vio­lin owned by one fam­i­ly for cen­turies is lost dur­ing the unrav­el­ing of Nazi Ger­many after World War II and is the main char­ac­ter of this nov­el. Read­ers learn how dif­fer­ent vio­lins have dif­fer­ent sounds, and it is the sound of this par­tic­u­lar vio­lin that will reveal its his­to­ry and right­ful own­ers. The tech­ni­cal aspects of vio­lin mak­ing are quite inter­est­ing and will be enter­tain­ing to all music lovers.

Young Daniel Horowitz, like his father and grand­fa­ther, plays the vio­lin. He pos­sess­es an extra­or­di­nary tal­ent that could pro­pel him to be a solo vio­lin­ist of great renown. But he is also a typ­i­cal young boy, and may not want to fol­low his family’s musi­cal lega­cy. Daniel resists his family’s attempt to force him to con­tin­ue his stud­ies. By chance, his path cross­es with that of the long-lost fam­i­ly vio­lin and brings rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and heal­ing to his fam­i­ly. It is more than the pow­er of music at stake; it is the recla­ma­tion of a fam­i­ly history. 

The sto­ry moves from the present-day con­cert stage, to Berlin of the 1930s, to post-war, Sovi­et-occu­pied Ger­many. There are many human char­ac­ters whose lives inter­twine over the decades of this sto­ry, but it is the vio­lin that unites their stories.

Relat­ed Content:

Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions