“Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret – something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .”
“The Husband’s Secret” has a great premise – the finding of a mysterious secret that could ruin an otherwise perfect life – and for the first 1/3 of the book, I think author Liane Moriarty manages to build an intriguing and different story.
The book is told from three different points of view. Cecilia, the wife of the title; Tess, a woman in crisis returning to her home town; and Rachel, an older woman mourning the loss of her daughter. The first switch from Cecilia to Tess was very confusing for me, as I hadn’t expected multiple protagonists, but as the story developed, the varying viewpoints worked well – rather than a simple story of a wife, it became a tale of women and a whole town.
The three women are very different in age, circumstances and tempers, and yet I felt as if Moriarty had attempted to draw one woman – someone typical and multi-faceted. None of the women are simply drawn and in fact, I found neither of them particularly likable, but I did believe in them – their emotions and actions seemed genuine, if not always understandable or agreeable. In addition, Moriarty is very apt at writing witty and spot-on inner dialogue, and seemed at first to have a good eye for the inner workings of the female heart and mind.
Unfortunately, as the story progressed what seemed at first to be a sort of tongue-in-cheek approach to the perhaps less-than-savoury thoughts and emotions of women, instead started to feel as if Moriarity was treating very dark personal secrets with a rather contemptuous and joking voice.
The narration of events from various sources served to give the reader a kind of eagle-eye view, which meant that I had guessed the secret long before it was actually revealed! There were so many heavy-handed hints that the secret was evident before I even had to chance to really ponder it very long.
The revelation happened about half-way through the book, and while it makes sense to spend a large part of the book focusing on Cecilia’s reaction and actions after the secret is revealed, it simply took too long and was too unrealistically complicated for things to reach any kind of conclusion. And when they finally did, the ending was so contrived that I had actually guessed at it, and then dismissed it for being way too constructed!
I found myself caring far more about the small side love story than the main story line surrounding the secret as the characters’ lack of likability from the start of the book morphed into a lack of credibility – and I still refuse to believe that anyone would actually act or feel as the characters did. It takes a lot to draw me out of my suspension of disbelief, but the conclusion of this book seemed too “perfect-puzzle-falling-into-place” and unbelievable.
I really wanted to like this book and if you look at my Goodreads account, you will see that I very rarely give any book less than 3 stars. It might not even be a very good book, but if I was entertained in some way while reading, I will usually award it the medium rating. Unfortunately, “The Husband’s Secret” ended up annoying me so much that I was unable to even award it for its good beginning and premise.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty; published July 2013 by Penguin Books