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Australian author Liane Moriarty has a reputation for writing smart books featuring realistic, contemporary women. When I heard Amy Einhorn had acquired a new Moriarty novel, I couldn't wait to read it. The Husband's Secret, out just this week, lived up to my expectations.
Here's the publisher's summary:
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .Moriarity builds the tension exquisitely slowly, as the novel switches among the stories of the three women, who are only loosely united by their church and local parochial school. As we get to know them, waiting for the moment when Cecilia will no longer be able to resist reading her husband's letter, our loyalties shift and sway. We have so much to try to put together: What's in the letter? How are these women's lives going to converge? Can there be a happy or peaceful ending for any of them?
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.
Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.
Because The Husband's Secret most obviously refers to John-Paul Fitzpatrick, Cecilia and her family grab the majority of our attention. But Tess's and Rachel's husbands also have secrets, and their stories tug at us too. Rachel, still grieving over the murder of her seventeen-year-old daughter decades earlier, wins our sympathy—not because she is a sad case but because she tries so desperately to keep her daughter's memory alive, even though very few of her friends feel comfortable talking about Janie. I found Tess to be the most distant of the three women, but her actions after her husband makes his confession (almost as soon as we meet him) are understandable and mostly reasonable.
One interesting device Moriarity employs in the novel is what I think of as "what-if interludes." These take on several different forms, including Rachel's imaginings of Janie's life if she had lived, Cecilia's thoughts about what might be in her husband's letter, and the novel's epilogue that ties together many of the characters. Who hasn't indulged in what-ifs?
Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret touches on the themes of betrayal, loss, secrets, moving on, forgiveness, acceptance, motherhood, marriage, and fate. With such realistic characters and believable situations, the book will be a sure winner for book clubs around the world. Besides the topics I've just listed, the most discussed question might be the one Cecilia asks herself in the first chapter: Should she open that letter? Would you?
To learn more about Liane Moriarty, visit her website, where you can read the first chapter, discover the inspiration behind the novel (it indirectly involves the Loch Ness monster!), and download a reading guide. Don't forget to check out her blog and subscribe to her newsletter.
Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.
Published by Putnam / Amy Einhorn Books, July 30, 2013
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