The Husband’s Secret

Thursday, April 3, 2014

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?”


Brona said...

Some of my Aust blogger friends have raved about this one too, but I have yet to read any of Moriarty's work (although I've read and loved one her sister's YA books - Jaclyn & the her Shadowfell series. Another sister Nicola, is also a published writer. Clever family!)

Your review is very tempting and thoughtfully presented. Thanks.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I absolutely adore Moriarty. She has such a way with her characters and making the reader think about their own lives. What Alice Forgot was one of my favorite books from a couple of years ago. People think her books are chick lit but they are so NOT that. This was an excellent audio by the way.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Glad u enjoyed this. I'm one of the few bloggers who have not read it YET:)

Andi said...

I haven't really thought this novel would be my thing, but you're reading making me rethink that! It sounds amazing in your review.

Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate said...

Great review! I definitely want to read this one now.
Happy Reading,
Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brona - I had no idea her sisters were authors too. They're a modern day Bronte family!

Sandy - I'd never read her before! What Alice Forgot just jumped way up my TBR list.

Diane - It's a good one!

Andi - I thought the same thing! I was talking with a friend about how I dismissed it because of its title and cover without ever really giving it a chance. I'm so glad someone made me give it another look.

Kailana said...

I have heard lots of good things about this author. Now to actually read a book!

Anonymous said...

I adored this one, too - and your review reminds me that I want to read more from Moriarty!

LindyLouMac said...

Hi Melissa, thanks so much for letting me know you had published your review. What a great review it is as well. I was interested in your comparison to Maeve Binchy's writing, never even crossed my mind, but I think I know what you mean.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kailana - I don't know if another one of her books is better to start with, but this one is great.

Carrie - I do too!

LindylouMac - It reminded me so much of one of her books!

Amy said...

I read this book earlier this year for my book club and really liked it. It was great to be able to discuss it with a bunch of other women . . . so many things to talk about!

Anonymous said...

This was my first time reading this author, too, and I absolutely loved this novel for all the reasons you mentioned. I definitely want to read What Alice Forgot too.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amy - It's a great one to discuss! I may have to suggest it to my book club too.

Heather - Me too and I can't wait to see what she writes next.

thecuecard said...

You sold me on this one Melissa. Thanks for the review. It may be perfect for my book club. cheers!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

thecuecard - I hope you enjoy it!