Title: The Husband’s Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Opening lines: ‘…It was all because of the Berlin Wall…’
There is a picture floating around the Internet of a little cat with a look of absolute horror on his face as he looks at something off camera, and the words at the bottom are “What has been seen cannot be unseen”. And it is this little cat who came into my mind when Cecilia Fitzpatrick opened a letter her husband Jon-Paul wrote to her fifteen years ago with the words “For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick to be opened only in the event of my death” written across the front of the envelope. You see Jon-Paul wasn’t dead and the envelope was hidden in a box of papers and only found by accident while Cecelia was searching for her tiny piece of stone from the Berlin Wall for her daughter. But once she had read what he had written there, she couldn’t ’unread’ them any more than the little cat could ‘unsee’ whatever it was he had seen.
Set in Sydney THE HUSBAND’S SECRET is told from the perspective of three seemingly unconnected women. Gradually the threads of the story interconnect then bind the three of them closer and closer. Cecilia is a Stepford Wife looked at in awe by other women as she is seemingly ‘perfect,’ absolutely super organised and never in a flap. She has been happily married for fifteen years, has 3 children, is the P&C president of her children’s school (St. Angela’s), and is a very successful Tupperware dealer. Her household is run with total precision which is why it is so noticeable to everyone when her life starts to fall apart.
Then there is Tess, she starts off in Melbourne where she runs an IT business with her husband Will and cousin/best friend Felicity. Her world gets turned upside-down when Felicity and Will announce that they have fallen in love and want Felicity to move in so the child, Liam doesn’t realise what is going on. Tess is shocked at the total betrayal that she leaves with Liam and flies home to her mother in Sydney to think about her next move. As she doesn’t know how long she’ll be away she enrols Liam at her old school St Angela’s and immediately bumps into an old boyfriend who is now the PE teacher.
The last lady, and lynchpin of the story, is Rachel. She is an older woman and the school secretary at St Angela’s. She is deeply sad as she has never stopped mourning after the murder of her daughter 20 years ago. The only bright part of her life is when her toddler grandson comes to visit. Her story opens when her son and daughter-in-law announce they are taking the grandson and moving to New York for a couple of years. Rachel descends into utter despair. She has long been convinced that the St Angela’s PE teacher murdered her daughter as he was the last person to see her alive and so in her despair over the soon to be loss of her grandson she sets the cold case detectives onto the PE teacher.
The ‘what if’ questions started very quickly – what if this person hadn’t done that – then this, that or the other event wouldn’t have happened or may not have occurred. And what if this event did happen, then maybe things would have been different. All three of the women have secrets; they each make decisions to do things that are morally ambiguous in their execution but make totally rational sense to them at the time. Without ever having more than a fleeting physical contact with each other the three women pull the story along with lots of twists and turns to bring it to its ultimate surprise climax. After the climax there is a ‘wait there’s more’ epilogue where author Liane Moriarty anticipates the ‘what if’ questions that her readers may have about the ending and sets about answering them, well sort of, she doesn’t change anything she just reveals secrets to the reader that the main characters will never know, or give potential events that will happen but they don’t know it yet but throws doubt in with the revelations and then finishes with the closing line: ‘…Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora…’
I loved the story, the clever intricacies of the plot, the drama, the humour and the way it got you thinking.
Rating: A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.
For more about the author – Click Here
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty is book # 5 for AWW2014