The Husband’s Secret
by Liane Moriarty
If Tana French and Maeve Binchy had a baby, this would be it. This beautiful, complicated novel is set in Australia and weaves together three separate plots. The first introduces us to Cecelia, an organized mother of three girls (Polly, Esther and Isabel) who finds an old unopened letter from her husband John-Paul.
The second introduces us to another married couple, Tess and Will. Will has fallen in love with Felicity, who is Tess’ best friend, cousin, and business partner. Tess, left reeling from the shock, flees to her mother’s house in Sydney with her son Liam. Finally, we meet Rachel, grandmother to Jacob. She is frustrated when her son Rob and his career-driven wife Lauren decided to move to New York. Rachel has experienced some extreme tragedies in her life that have left her bitter and resentful.
I loved that for each of the women we are able to see them through the eyes of other people in addition to hearing them describe themselves. It gives a more complete view than we as the reader are usually able to get. We often either hear what a character thinks of themselves or we see a characters described by others, not both. I loved that combination. It made me think about how I view myself vs. how others see me. We are harsher on ourselves and at the same time we can be cruel to others with our quick first impressions.
The three stories, which on the surface seem so different, are connected by unexpected threads. From the Berlin Wall to the Biggest Loser, the author uses random elements to connect the lives of the women. The whole structure reminded me so much of Maeve Binchy’s style of writing. There’s also a darker side to the story and shades of Tana French’s skilled mysteries kept popping up.
Another wonderful element is the depth of the secondary characters, especially Felicity and Connor. Both could easily have been one-note creations, easily dismissible. Instead we see their layers, we empathize with them. Their complications make the entire story richer. As much as we sometimes wish it to be true, people are not simply good or evil. Moriarty’s novel embraces that fact and delves deep into the complicated stew of life.
BOTTOM LINE: Such a wonderful novel, I couldn't put it down. It was a equal balance between great characters, excellent pacing and an incredible plot. This one hit the nail ont the head for me.
“It was like being buried in an avalanche of detail. The myriad of tiny logistical maneuvers that made up someone else’s life. It wasn’t that it was dull. Although it was a little dull. It was mainly the sheer quantity of words that flowed so effortlessly from Cecilia’s mouth.”
“Did one act define who you were forever?”