Thursday, April 03, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Poor, poor Pandora.  ~ First Sentence of The Husband's Secret


The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
Penguin, 2013
Fiction; 416 pgs
From the Publisher: 
Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . . 
Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all - she's an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or each other - but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's devastating secret.
I was excited when this won the poll as my online book group's February discussion book.  After reading so many great reviews last year, this proved a great excuse to move it up in my TBR stacks.

The Husband's Secret began like I would expect many women's fiction novels to.  You have the female character whose life seems too perfect to be true--you just know something is about to happen to derail all that--in this case a secret coming to light.  Then there's the female character whose marriage is falling part in another, more predictable way.  Also, there is an elderly woman who is still mourning the loss of her daughter, and who may soon lose her grandson, her only reason for living, when her son and his wife move away.

Liane Moriarty does a wonderful job of creating interesting and in depth characters, who are going through varying degrees of crises in their lives.  The three women, Rachel, Cecilia and Tess, all know each other and live in the same community, and yet they really don't know each other on a more intimate and personal level, something that will quickly change as the events in the novel unfold.

I wasn't as surprised by many in my group as to what was in that letter Cecilia's husband didn't want her to open until after his death.  It seemed kind of obvious to me, especially once everyone's stories had more of less been set up.  Maybe it's because I read so many mystery novels.  Anyway, my lack of surprise hardly took away from the suspense of the situation, nor the dire conflict Cecilia suddenly finds herself suffering. Cecilia wasn't especially a character I liked right out of the gate, but I came to really care about her.  About all the women in the novel, really.  I would never want to be in Cecilia's shoes.  This book reminded me in some ways of The Deepest Secret, which I read in December of last year.  Just how far will a mother go to protect her family?

Rachel's story is the most heartbreaking in many ways, from the loss of her daughter all those years ago to the distance she feels between she and her son and his wife.  She lives for her grandson, and with him about to move across the ocean, she feels her life line is slipping away.  The loneliness and grief and guilt she feels is palpable on the pages.

Then there is Tess who is lost in her own way.  Her husband has just revealed his big secret and it has torn their family--and life--apart.  Tess never saw it coming.  She returns to her mother's home to think things through, taking her son with her.  She has her own decision to make, her own re-evaluating of her life to do.

These three women are very different and yet they each have much in common.  Liane Moriarty is able to take each of their stories and weave them together in a way that will leave the reader breathless and not just a little bit shocked.  The Husband's Secret was heart-wrenching at times.  And it is certainly a novel that makes one think.

One of Cecilia's daughter's is studying the fall of the Berlin Wall throughout the novel, and I especially loved the juxtaposition that particular story line created in terms of the lives of the three women.  The symbolism, especially in terms of the walls we put up to protect ourselves and our secrets, was hard to miss.

I quite enjoyed The Husband's Secret, and hope to read more by Liane Moriarty in the future.


Rating of Book: * (Good +)

You can learn more about Liane Moriarty and her books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased the e-copy version of this book for my own reading pleasure.  


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

30 comments:

  1. I have this on my TBR pile but haven't read it yet. I've been almost scared to as it sounds kind of intense. It's amazing how much reading mysteries gives you an edge in figuring out plot twists in non-mysteries! Glad you enjoyed it. One day I'll break down and read it myself!

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    1. Katherine - I think it's worth reading if you get the chance. It deals with some heavy topics and is intense at moments, but it's worth it.

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  2. I liked it, too, and I have to admit, ti didn't really expect to. I was impressed with the way Moriarty brought the converging stories into something more than a simple plot device. There was a lot to think about in this novel.

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    1. Jenclair - When I first heard about this book, most everyone who had read it said it was a must read and talked about what a surprise it was. I can see why. It packs much more of a punch than it at first appears. I agree with you. I really liked how the author brought everything together and interwove the stories. Definitely a more complex novel than what I expected when I first started reading it.

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  3. I have heard lots of good things about this author, but haven't tried anything yet... I do have this one, though, so I will be curious to see what I think!

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    1. Kelly - I'm curious to read more by her after reading this one. I hope you like this one when you do read it! I'll be anxious to read your thoughts on it.

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  4. I read What Alice Forgot by the same author and adored it. I've heard this one isn't quite as good - it sounds like it's still worth reading.

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    1. Kathy - I haven't read What Alice Forgot. I will have to look for that one and give it a try!

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  5. This one sounds right up my alley! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the great review, Wendy!

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  6. I really enjoyed this one, too - I thought the writing was excellent. I can't imagine being in that wife's position!

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    1. Carrie - I can't either. I am glad I finally read this one.

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  7. Sounds like this one should come with a box of tissues. Great review, thank you.

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    1. Tracy - Yes, a box of tissues is mandatory with this one!

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  8. I just posted on this one yesterday! I wasn't expecting to like it at all and I really did. It was exactly what I was in the mood for. Like you I wasn't surprised by the letter's contents at all, but that definitely didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of the book.

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    1. Melissa - It sounds like we had similar reactions to this one. :-) I am glad you liked it too.

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  9. I liked this one too although thought it was a slow burner, I passed it on to a girl at work. lovely review! I also bought What Alice Forgot by the same author and hope to read it soon, it arrived today.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Lainy - That's one downside to reading e-books--not being able to share them with everyone I think might like it! I hope you enjoy What Alice Forgot. I should read that one too.

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  10. I do enjoy women's fiction and The Husband's Secret sounds like a good one. I've seen this one around and it's on my radar.

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    1. Naida - I am glad I decided to read it! I might have passed it up had I not heard such great things about it from fellow bloggers.

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  11. I've been meaning to try this one; maybe this summer. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Diane - This would make a great summer book to read, I think. I hope you like it when you do read it!

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  12. I enjoyed reading your review. I enjoyed this book as well.

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  13. It sounds like an interesting book! I tend to shy away from mysteries, but I do like women's fiction. It seems like this novel fits in more than one genre. I also like the cover art.

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    1. A.M.B. - Yes, I think this is definitely a cross-genre book. I think the relationship issues outweigh the mystery overall, so you might like this one if you decide to read it.

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  14. This sounds good. I need to move it up on my TBR list. thanks for your review!

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    1. Sandra - I hope you like it when you do read it!

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  15. I like the sound of this one. And it sounds different than what I've been reading lately...I've been in the mood for something different! Sounds like I should see if my library has a copy. Great review!

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    1. Samantha - I hope your library has a copy as I'd love to know what you think if you decide to read this one.

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