Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Book Review: The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

Synopsis - 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 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 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...

Review - This book was my reading group's pick for discussion this month.  We had quite a lengthy discussion which I will not record here in detail as I will not post spoilers, not intentionally, anyway.  We agreed we liked the book on the whole, ranking it about 3*.  We felt the author had portrayed the women as strong characters.  It took a while to get into the story and with flipping back and forth from one set of characters to another in the following chapters; it was a bit wearisome in trying to work out how they were connected.  Of course, it all linked up at the end.  The group felt that the triangle of Tess, Will and Felicity was contrived but understood why Tess was introduced for the story to play out as written.  The jury was out with dividing views on what Cecilia should or should not have done once she discovered John-Paul's secret.  It was generally felt that she was correct in opening the letter based on his behaviour in varying ways.

My personal thoughts:
I liked the reference at both the beginning and the end to Pandora's Box.  My question is should you open something you have been told not to at this time or ever?  Should you respect a person's wishes?  Or is human curiosity too much of a temptation?  

I had to agree with the group in finding the beginning half of the book dragged somewhat.  My immediate thoughts were the characters were so ordinary but I think that was the point, to portray them as people we could sympathise or empathise with.  But, in the end they weren't ordinary, something had happened in each of their lives to change them.  Once I got halfway or thereabouts it picked up and became interesting.  We have Cecilia the central character, wife to John-Paul and mother of their three beautiful girls.  She juggles running a Tupperware business with keeping a pristine home and ferrying the girls to just about every activity available.  The eldest girl Esther is obsessed with fact finding about the collapse of the Berlin Wall which is featured throughout the book and has links with other characters.  

The story is set in Australia mainly in Sydney, but Melbourne features too.  The books central theme is about families, secrets, loss, lies and betrayal.  There were plenty of what if’s?  I wasn't sure that the epilogue was really necessary, although it was interesting to learn about Marfin's Syndrome and the snippet about Abraham Lincoln possibly having had this disease.  3*

ISBN 978-1-405-91166-5

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