Monday, January 06, 2014

Review: 'The Husband's Secret' by Liane Moriarty

Great news: I have a new book to rave about and recommend off the tip of my tongue as soon as someone suggests a title to read. Last year was 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn (click HERE to read the BookFabulous review). Less than a week into this new year and I'm already excited about Liane Moriarty's latest book 'The Husband's Secret'.

The novel, set in Australia, is about a woman, Cecilia Fitzpatrick, who is living the perfect life. She is in love with and married to the town's handsome much-loved and highly-respected member of the community, Jean Paul,  who happens to come from a well-to-do family as well. Together they have three beautiful high achieving young daughters. Chairman of the school's PTA, Cecilia has also  recently launched a new very successful career involving Tupperware. In short, the woman has it all.

One day, while searching for a souvenir in the attic - a piece of the original Berlin Wall as it happens - to give to her teenage daughter who is currently obsessed with that story having moved on from her obsession with the Titanic, she accidentally stumbles upon a sealed enveloped addressed in her name. Recognising the writing as that of Jean Paul she cannot open it as it has clear instructions that Cecilia is only to ever read the letter in the event of his death.

And here the dilemma starts. Does she open it knowing full well that if she told any one of her friends about it, nearly every one of them would urge her to do just that? Or should she return it to where she found it and pretend it didn't even exist? But it does exist she reasons and starts to obsess about finding answers to questions like why it was there in the attic and not filed away with all of Jean Paul's other legal work? and why had he not given it to their solicitor to keep in the first place?

Her decision? Of course, she opens the letter - (I am not spoiling this for you as the title of the book kind of gives it away) but when she does, it is only to discover that in her hand she holds something akin to a Pandora's box (who by the way Moriarty begins and ends her novel with) that now unleashed unto Cecilia's universe has set in motion a string of events that will change the lives of those closest and dearest.

What Moriarty does with this novel is very clever. She brings a group of ordinary people leading ordinary lives and strings them together in the most extraordinary way. Yet in spite of the novel switching from one character's life to the other, there is an order to the madness and it flows beautifully. However, the reader will run out of guessing options as to the content of the letter and then as to where on earth Moriarty is leading us all. And by us, I mean the readers. For once that letter is opened the reader is no longer an impartial entity but remains challenged throughout. It's like Moriarty defies you to act any differently to her characters when faced with the same situations. It is a novel that will force you to address who you are at your core and what you would do when your values, beliefs, and everything you know about wrong and right are put to the test.

The plot is very believable, so much so that it will have book club members shouting over each other to be heard and most likely at each other. And that in my opinion makes it well worth reading and ultimately gives depth and credibility to the writing. It is a novel about redemption, love, and closure. It is a story about regrets, guilt, and many many secrets.

My best friend and I are still at lock horns with her unbudging attitude that Cecilia should not have opened the letter in the first place. My argument? why write a letter with a secret if you don't want to be found out? Which one of us is right? We'd like you to be the judge of that so come on, go and read/download the book now. A friendship could be at stake here :)

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