Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty

Wow, I may be a little late to the party on this book, but I'm really glad I read it. This is the perfect example of a thought-provoking beach read—it grips you immediately, keeps you totally fascinated, and the plot is almost completely believable, but you won't feel embarrassed reading it, because it's well-written.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick is the very definition of an overachieving wife and mother. Her house is spotless and organized to the hilt, she's the president of the Parents & Friends association at her daughters' school, she has a successful business on the side, and is the first to participate, greet, and help, in every situation. With three (reasonably) well-behaved daughters, and a (somewhat) perfect marriage to handsome and successful John-Paul, she certainly appears to have it all.

Then one morning she finds a envelope addressed in her husband's hand, to her, which says it should only be opened in the event of his death. And as she ponders what could be in this letter, she starts realizing that things with John-Paul haven't been as solid as usual. Her daughters mention some odd behavior, and then there's the fact that they haven't had sex in quite some time. Should she read the letter or adhere to his wishes and put it away?

Meanwhile, Tess has just found out that her husband and her cousin—her co-workers and two closest friends in the world—have fallen in love. She flees her Melbourne home with their young son, and retreats to her mother's house in Sydney to figure her life out. This solution is complicated by the reappearance of an old boyfriend and the fact that her husband and cousin won't stop calling her to explain.

Rachel has been living her life mourning her daughter, Janie, who was mysteriously murdered when she was younger. Some 20 years after Janie's death, she still holds a grudge against who she thinks the killer was. The only thing that brightens her days is her time with her young grandson, but Rachel's son has just mentioned that he is moving his family to New York.

Cecilia, Tess, and Rachel know each other (or know of each other) peripherally, but their lives will suddenly connect in ways they have never expected. They will discover truths they never knew, and find themselves making sacrifices they never considered. The Husband's Secret shows that you never know everything you think you do about those you love, and how secrets almost always have a way of hurting others.

I thought this was a completely compelling read from start to finish, and I flew through the book very quickly. Sure, it's a little melodramatic, but not in a bad way—the main characters have some pretty major issues to deal with. Liane Moriarty is a great storyteller, and even if certain strands of the plot are predictable, they don't take away from the book's appeal. I really enjoyed this.

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