Thursday, 5 September 2013

Book Review: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.
Curious, she opens it - and time stops.
John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia - betrayed, angry and distraught - wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .

I discovered Liane Moriarty during last year's AWW Challenge and fell in love with her writing. So I was excited to see she had a new book out this year - The Husband's Secret - which I've just read for AWW2013

The Husband's Secret is a book about the things we hide and the consequences of our actions. Set on Sydney's North Shore, the story follows three main characters - Cecilia, Tess and Rachel - as they negotiate the trials and joys of family life. Bound together by life in their community, what these women don't know is that a secret threatens everything they've built their lives upon.

I was captivated by this story from the first page and I read the book very quickly. Moriarty succeeds in creating a strong narrative that is funny in part, even though we know something sinister is lurking just around the corner. Straightaway I got a sense of the tight-knit community these characters reside in and this only made the secret, when it is revealed, all the more shocking.

Unfortunately I'd worked out what the secret was long before Cecilia opened the letter, but that didn't make it any less shocking. It still made me wonder how this family would survive the revelation. Moriarty creates a fairly believable scenario that has Cecilia questioning her morals and I found this intriguing to read.

I liked all the characters in the novel and fans of Moriarty's family-orientated stories will enjoy reading about how secrets have the ability to bring even the most solid relationships to breaking point. Even though the novel is an easy 'summer read', it does feature complex themes of loss and betrayal.

I didn't agree with all the characters' actions and I felt that forgiveness came a little too easy to John-Paul. The novel does raise the question of whether or not one bad act should cancel out the rest of a life well spent. I believe it depends on the severity of the act, and in this case I felt more punishment was necessary. Having said that, I can see why Moriarty chose the route she did.

Moriarty is great at throwing normal families into abnormal situations and seeing how they react. Her stories make me question how I might respond if I was in the same predicament, and any novel that gets me thinking about the complexities of life, family and relationships is a success in my eyes. The Husband's Secret is an enjoyable and satisfying read.


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