The Husband’s Secret


The Husband’s Secret
by Liane Moriarty

This book interweaves the stories of three modern-day Australian women: Cecilia, Tess and Rachel who are brought together in the same city, during a short period, when each is experiencing some upheaval in her own life.

Cecilia seems to have it all: a wonderful husband, a successful Tupperware business and three beautiful daughters. She is organised and happy on the surface, until she touches upon the anxieties she has with her marriage to John-Paul. They haven’t had sex for six months and one of their daughters has seen him crying in the shower recently. To compound her worries, Cecilia has come across a sealed envelope addressed to her, in John-Paul’s handwriting, which reads: ‘For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick. To be opened only in the event of my death.’

She asks John-Paul about it when he phones home from a foreign business trip and he flippantly tells her it’s nothing and she shouldn’t open it. However, he comes home early from his trip and this starts to raise Cecilia’s suspicions. Having agreed not to open it, she does and therein lies the ‘secret’.

The other two characters in the book are Tess whose husband and best friend/cousin have just made a confession of their own and Rachel, a doting grandmother, who is still finding it hard to move on with her life after the murder of her daughter nearly 30 years ago.

In this third person narrative, we, the reader, get the three main characters’ viewpoints, which work successfully, although you may find as I did that some characters’ stories are more interesting than others and you want to stay with them a bit longer. Also, to give space over to these three narratives means that you don’t get as much character development as you would like. I felt that the woman were fairly two-dimensional and I would have liked a little bit more back story to truly understand them and their motivations, etc.

I found it difficult at first to get into this novel. Having just completed three weighty tomes: The Luminaries, The Goldfinch and Life After Life, the almost-frivolous writing annoyed me, but after a short time I settled into this fast-paced, witty style.

One small gripe is that the secret took forever to be revealed, with the author choosing to hold out for as long as she could to reveal it. The problem with this technique is that the reader becomes frustrated and doesn’t want to read about Tess and Rachel until Cecilia has opened the letter. This is a shame as Tess’s story is actually more interesting than Cecilia’s, I thought.

Once the secret is revealed, we can relax (or not!) and the book swings into a nice rhythm, moving between three character threads with ease, bringing them together every now and then until their stories are closely entwined.

The Berlin Wall is used as a very loose metaphor – and I mean ‘loose’. This got in the way of the story I thought as it was too obvious and dull. For me, it served no purpose. I imagine the choice of Tupperware was also a metaphor for sealing in secrets, but maybe I just read too much into that.

The ending was deflating in so many ways, especially Tess’s predictable choice (yawn). It should have finished up with Rachel’s last words instead of going on into an epilogue. This was totally unnecessary and diluted the impact for me. It was a way of saying: actually what John-Paul did wasn’t so bad after all; don’t worry about Connor, it all turned out nice and rosy in the end, blah, blah.

This is a pacy page-turner and I would try another novel by this author, when in need of something light. It’s easy reading in a good way and I’d recommend it for a holiday read or something to bury your head in when you want to lose yourself in some chick lit.

Rating: 3/5


4 thoughts on “The Husband’s Secret

  1. It took a long time for me to get into this one. From what I remember though, I did end up being okay with how everything turned out because there blame to share. Have you tried “What Alice Forgot” or “The Hypnotist’s Love Story”? Same author.

      • MORE than “The Husband’s Secret”!

        “What Alice Forgot” blurb:
        Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.
        So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, , she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

        “The Hypnotist’s Love Story” blurb:
        Ellen O’Farrell is an expert when it comes to human frailties. She’s a hypnotherapist who helps her clients deal with everything from addictions to life-long phobias. So when she falls in love with a man who is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend she’s more intrigued than frightened. What makes a supposedly smart, professional woman behave this way? She’d love to meet her!
        What she doesn’t know is that she already has. Saskia has been masquerading as a client, and their lives are set to collide in ways Ellen could never have predicted.
        This wonderfully perceptive new novel from Liane Moriarty is about the lines we’ll cross for love. It’s about the murky areas between right and wrong, and the complexities of modern relationships.

        …let me know if you ever get to them 🙂

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