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Summary

A hidden note. A lost love. A second chance.... 

From the number one best-selling author of The Letter, Kathryn Hughes, comes The Key, an unforgettable story of a heartbreaking secret that will stay with you for ever.

1956 

It's Ellen Crosby's first day as a student nurse at Ambergate Hospital. When she meets a young woman admitted by her father, little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is to change both their lives for ever....

2006

Sarah is drawn to the now abandoned Ambergate. Whilst exploring the old corridors she discovers a suitcase belonging to a female patient who entered Ambergate fifty years earlier. The shocking contents, untouched for half a century, will lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy and lost love, and the chance to make an old wrong right.

©2018 Kathryn Hughes (P)2018 Headline Publishing Group Ltd.

Critic reviews

"A wonderful, enthralling story; one that I didn't want to end." (Lesley Pearse on The Key)

"Gripping." (Good Housekeeping on The Secret)

"Hughes creates a sense of time and place effortlessly. The social context is incredibly important and once again, conveyed so well that the reader feels immersed in the world of Ambergate. Even though some of the story is set in the past, it still feels relevant and still raises questions about attitudes to mental illness, trauma, motherhood and grief." (Bibliomaniac on The Key)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow, Fantastic read

Beautifully narrated by the talented actress Joanne Froggatt. Such a moving story - had me gripped from the start. Rarely does a book stay with you and have you thinking about it long after you've finished it. I didn't want it to end.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible!

This is such a wonderful story. I have listened to The Letter and The Secret and I was looking forward to listening to The Key.

Joanne Foggart is an exceptional narrator, she really can draw you into the story.
Despite the present, past and present (again) aspect of the book, there is no constant shift back and forth in time, making the book very easy to follow.
The characters are so vivid and the environment is so vivid, you can really imagine being there.
I listened to this book in 1 and a half days and I was gripped from the start.
A wonderful, wonderful story.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Key,Amazing book that deserves 6 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Most definitely yes

Any additional comments?

The Key, an unforgettable story of a heartbreaking secret that will stay with you forever.

😊 OMG If I could give this book more then 5 stars I would..It sure deserves it, Having read Kathryn Hughes other books “The letter” and “The secret” I couldn’t wait for this one to be released knowing that it would be just as beautifully written and heart a warming story as her other books.
Kathryn has created a even more beautiful, heart wrenching and moving story with this one.

Whilst researching into the abandoned Ambergate Asylum, Sarah discovers a suitcase in an attic belonging to a female patient who was admitted to the asylum fifty years earlier. The shocking contents lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy, lost love and an old wrong that only Sarah maybe able to put right. We then travel down the 1956 timeline of the Ambergate County Lunatic Asylum meeting Ellen Crosby, a student nurse starting her first day at work.
The 'then and now' works really well and easy to follow as they come together at the end in some shocking revelations. I was totally amazed by the brilliant twists all the though the story from the first chapter to the very last.

"The Key" ( just like Kathryn Hughes other books) is a totally amazingly engrossing, addictive and emotional story that you wont want to stop listening to.
It will leave you both smiling and sad as you follow the life’s of the amazingly thought of characters that will sure stay will you long after you finish listening.👌🏼😊 Make sure to have some tissues at hand for the last few chapters you will need them.

The author always knows how to capture the hearts of the readers and she has certainly succeeded again with this powerful well written beautiful book. ❤️

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

What a fantastic book. Read it in a day and a half. Didn’t want it to end.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely perfect in every way

I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a book as much as I did this one. It made me laugh and cry and I just didn’t want it to finish. Kathryn Hughes is a truly gifted storyteller and one of my very favorite authors. Joanne Froggatt did a wonderful job of the narration, much better than her previous attempts, in my opinion. The book is truly wonderful and is a must read.. don’t miss it!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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excellent

captivating book really enjoyed it well read couldn't wait to get back into the car

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A mixed bag

Lots of emotions in this audio book. Lots of twists and anticipation for next part. Joanne Froggatt is an amazing narrator she brings life to audio books. This is the second audio I have listened to I wish she had done more. I'd quite gladly listen to her narration on every book. The Key is. Very good hard to stop listening to I stayed in car longer after engine off j is there to listen to end of chapter

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Accurate account of the time

As I worked in a large psychiatric hospital in the seventies, it was remarkably accurate.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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must read

first of all love love Joanne froggatt as a narrator this being the second book I've read she s narrated, as for the book I absolutely loved it fantastic storyline and characters very easy to imagine highly recommended

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Amazing story

Loved this story so much. You know you enjoyed a book when you're sad when it finishes!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-04-18

Different

This was a very intense book. At times it was difficult to listen to or read. It was heartbreaking , sad and wrong. However it kept my interest and at the end , it was all wrapped up.

JoAnne Foggatt did a remarkable job!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 31-03-18

Outstanding Narration

The best thing about The Key is the narration by Joanne Froggatt. Ms. Froggatt’s performance turned an okay book into a very good one. The author does a good job describing the horrible conditions of the insane asylums of the past. It was the all too neat and tidy ending of the book that I didn’t care for. Still, all in all, I would recommend The Key.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Randi Lavender
  • 11-11-18

excellent story line loved the characters

thank you for not using bad language. very enjoyable book. Its a story that needed to be told

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-11-18

Written so it's like you're sitting there listenin

This book was very good. It was like being there with each person as they were telling their part of the story. The smells, the textures, the sounds...and after. listening to this book I can definitely say I'm very glad times have changed for the most part, sadly, I'm sure there are likely places that are in some ways still like this. The reader was excellent at conveying each character so you could identify more easily, feel their emotions, hear what they heard and saw what they saw. Really liked the author/reader combination

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jody Thomas
  • 04-11-18

My thoughts on The Key

Struggled to get started. Once I got through the first few chapters the story was good.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • anne
  • 29-10-18

If you like Lifetime movies

If you like Lifetime Movies, you will like this book. Please don't think I'm knocking Lifetime movies. I watched them frequently when I was in my 20's.
For me this book just did not have enough depth and the characters were somewhat one dimensional. I found it predictable and a little "preachy". However, I also have to admit to reading Kate Morton's latest just before this one and was probably looking for something as in-depth and intense.

I cannot recommend this book to fans of Elizabeth George, Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, Tana French, or Ruth Rendell.

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  • Haveenoughstuff
  • 30-09-18

Tragic but very real!

A very sad story about a “lunatic” asylum in England. Men and women committed to suffer lifetimes for not being normal. Sadly, our understanding of trauma and mental illness has hardly improved. Instead of being locked up, many ill people are homeless. Maybe some of the treatments, if one is lucky enough to even find a conscientious therapist, are less cruel. Psychiatrists today are quick to hand out drugs with many side effects and don’t even try to find the cause or correct medicines. And the stigma of being abnormal persists. It was a painful, but insightful novel.

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kristen H
  • 11-09-18

Tragic, heartbreaking story!

Beautifully written and narrated, but the story itself might just be too sad for me! The whole time, you're just waiting for something good to happen to this poor girl. And again and again, you get let down, just as she does. It's heartbreaking!! If you like good, sad stories with many redeeming qualities, this one is for you. But if you don't like sad stories, stay away.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-08-18

Captivating!

Excellent audiobook! Riveted through out!
Author did excellent job of creating a plot that was moving and breath taking.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BelleOfAmherst
  • 09-07-18

Brilliant!

This is truly a book you'll not want to miss. Most notably, Joanne Froggatt could not be a more perfect narrator, and she brings the story to life in a manner few would be capable of doing with such sincerity and commitment. Its characters are full of all the complexities only real life can bring to a person. The story is filled with all the questions each of us ask as human beings as we pass through the decades of our lives and watch our family and loved ones move through their's, most notably, "Why"? If you enjoy historical fiction, you'll certainly appreciate Kathyrn Hughes' ability to seamlessly move between two periods of time, connecting them in ways that unfold quite surprisingly. You will treasure this story. You will not forget the people whose lives are revealed in these pages because as you walk about, you'll see them pass you on the street or as you stroll through the park. You will not forget them, their poignant stories or this book. MMEB 9.7.18