Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

I have now read three of Ms. Moriarty's books and I always enjoy them. Set in Australia, they're not as light and fluffy as the book covers imply. In this one, Cecilia finds a letter from her husband addressed to be opened after he has died. But he isn't dead. He's on a business trip in the United States. But when she tells him what she's found, he comes back early, unexpectedly, alarming her as to the content of the letter. So she reads it. And it will change her life.

Meanwhile, Tess has just been told by her husband and best friend (and business partners) that they are having an affair. She immediately leaves Melbourne to go to her mother's in Sydney with her small son in tow.

Rachel works at the local school, which both Tess and Cecilia attended as children, and where now their kids go. Rachel's daughter went to school there too, before she was brutally murdered, decades ago.

Their lives will cross in unpredictable ways as secrets are revealed, morals are questioned, and these women each have to reach deep to plumb the depths of their hearts and discover for themselves what they can forgive, and what is truly unforgivable.

Some members of my book club weren't thrilled at how perfectly the plot threads all came together at the end and how the story was resolved. I did like that though, as I felt like it was a story that started with the end, and the author then worked her way back to where the story began for the three protagonists. If you look at it that way, it isn't as hard to believe. These aren't three random people whose lives impact each other, they are people whose lives will cross, and who they were before, and after. It was a very fast read, in fact I couldn't put it down for the last 100 pages and just whipped through the second half of the book. The voices of the three narrators are very distinctive and well-drawn, possibly better than I've ever seen that done before. And it was brilliant how, for example, Cecilia seemed annoyingly perky and chatty to Tess, and you were annoyed by her when you were in Tess's shoes, but when you switched to Cecilia as narrator, she wasn't annoying any more and now Tess seemed unusually reserved, but their characters hadn't changed--just the perspective had. It was very clever. The twist with the letter I pretty much saw coming but that happens about 100 pages in, it isn't the climax. I do wish the three roles were more even in terms of their importance to the story--Tess felt much less important and yet I liked her a lot. But it makes sense for the storyline that each of them got the importance that they did.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was another excellent outing by Ms. Moriarty and I'm glad I have more books by her on my shelves.

I bought this book at my local independent bookstore.

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