Cecilia Fitzpatrick thinks she knows her husband inside out, so she's surprised to accidentally discover in the attic a dusty sealed envelope with "For my wife - to be opened only in the event of my death" written on it in his handwriting. When she casually mentions it to him on the phone, his reaction makes it clear that the last thing he wants is for her to open that envelope - but why?
Leaving us with this intriguing puzzle, the story then jumps to another woman, Tess, whose husband has fallen in love with someone else. Shocked and distraught, Tess makes immediate plans to go and stay with her mother in Sydney, taking her young son with her. Then we move onto a third woman, Rachel, whose much loved daughter died many years previously and whose life now centres on her grandson. Shortly, the three women's lives will intersect and the secret that Cecilia's husband has been guarding for so long will impact on them all.
Despite strong word of mouth, I wasn't expecting a lot from this book, having once tried to read another by this Australian author and giving up on it. But I absolutely devoured The Husband's Secret. From the first chapter I was gripped and I read it in two settings. I worried about the characters - I even woke up in the middle of the night wondering how the author could possibly resolve the events that she'd set in motion. This isn't epic literature, but it's incredibly readable and totally gripping - the kind of book you want for a long plane flight.
on 7 August 2014
…and now I do. Am I disappointed? Only slightly.
For awhile there it felt like wherever I looked I saw the cover of The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, taunting me. Every book-email and internet sidebar dangled the secret in front of me like a mouth-watering chocolate fudge cake (an M&S one no less). I had tried to be strong and to convince myself that I didn’t need or want to know the secret and that it was probably something unsavoury or uninteresting or un-something else but the temptation was far too much in the end. Apart from being a little insight into why I have had so many failed diet attempts I like to think that it demonstrates an admirable thirst for knowledge.
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has lived many years blissfully unaware that her mild-mannered husband, John-Paul, harbours a life-changing secret until the day she discovers a letter addressed to herself, to be opened in the event of his death. What she reads in her husband’s letter leaves her reeling, as everything she thought she knew about her well-ordered life and the person she loves comes crashing down around her.
I thought that the build up to the revelation of John Paul’s secret was brilliant. Moriarty certainly knows how to tease her readers into a desperate frenzy and although I managed to refrain from actually shouting out loud ‘just tell me’ I was extremely close on more than one occasion! As well as Cecilia’s ongoing battle with her conscience, one of Moriarty’s stalling tactics was to introduce a second female protagonist, in the form of happily married Tess, who despite having an unshakable faith in her relationship is about to find out about her own husband’s betrayal. Tess’s shyness and self diagnosis of social anxiety coupled with her confidence with men made for an interesting read but whilst I wouldn’t be so mean as to refer to Tess as ‘all filler no killer’ it was clear why she didn’t quite cut it as a solo leading lady.
After what felt like a long long time (but was actually a couple of hours of reading spread over a few days), of getting distracted by other characters, Liana finally decided to let me on the secret. I promise I am not just saying this because it is now after the event, and I want to look like a smart-arse, but I did guess the secret before it was properly revealed. Whether or not this was Moriarty’s intention I may never know but I think it probably was given the way she built it up. The only problem was that once I did know for sure I felt such a relief that I lost momentum a little bit and became slightly less interested in the rest of the novel. That being said though the new problem of how the protagonist was supposed to deal with her husband’s secret was still a thought-provoking concept.
I couldn’t help but compare Cecilia and John-Paul’s relationship to my own and wonder what it would feel like to have everything I thought I knew about Ben change in an instant. I found myself (hopefully not too creepily) staring at him and wondering what it would feel like to find out he had a terrible secret. Could I forgive and can you just stop loving someone because of their past?
Moriarty explores the themes of guilt, revenge, forgiveness and the boundaries of love with an engaging look at the other side of the story. Worth a read, if only to satiate your burning curiosity.
on 25 February 2014
The Husband's Secret - read Jan 2014
This isn't my normal type of book but as was chosen by the bookclub started early again to ensure I finished. Low and behold read within the week and wow yet another I'm glad was picked by the group. Is certainly a book I would recommend and is well worth the 5 stars I've rated this on Goodreads. I will say that when I first started this the jumping from one to another was a bit off putting but if you can get past that its a good read.
Cecilia Fitzpatrick thinks she knows her husband until whilst in the attic one day she knocks a box over of her husbands tax returns and a dusty sealed envelope with "For my wife - to be opened only in the event of my death" written on it.
She is left thinking all sorts of things, from infidelity to numerous other things and casually mentions it to him on the phone (husband currently away) only to be told don't open it its nothing!!!
Why she is left wondering!! The story then jumps to another woman, Tess, whose husband has fallen in love with someone else (a family member). Shocked and distraught, she makes plans to go and stay with her mother in Sydney whose had an accident, taking their son with her.
The story then moves onto a third woman, Rachel whose daughter died in appalling circumstances.
The meeting of all three involves school, Tupperware parties to name but two and the three women's lives all slowly begin to link and the secret that Cecilia's husband has been keeping begins to unravel.
on 21 September 2014
As my title suggests, after finishing The Husband's Secret I am utterly speechless at how good a novel this has been ... and very disappointed that I have reached the end and I don't have anymore of this book left to read.
What an amazing read - seriously!!
It had me clinging on to my iPad every time I picked it up to read, finding it difficult to put down.
Normally, I am not a fan of a novel consisting of so many characters with alternating chapters - it is the 'trying to remember' where that character left off I don't really enjoy, but this novel somehow had me hooked. It is written in such a way that the 'trying to remember' moments did not exist - page after page flowed in such a way that I didn't feel like the reader, I felt like a character in the book standing back watching the plot unfold in front of me.
Liane Moriarty, I am utterly in love with your writing style - keep up the good work.
on 22 January 2014
WOW! It's more than a week since I finished THE HUSBAND'S SECRET and have finally gathered myself together to write a review but my overall thought has to simply be - WOW. This book has been on my TBR for months and when I finally got my hands on a copy, I dropped everything and boy was I rewarded with a stunning piece of fiction. I read this book in less than 24 hours mistakenly starting it before bed and then tossing and turning all night long because of the emotion it stirred in me with just the few short chapters I had read before lights out. I immediately picked it up the next morning and devoured the book in a matter of hours, performing my tasks and eating my meals one-handed.
It's been a long time since a book has made me feel like that and I'm so glad it lived up to my expectations.
THE HUSBAND'S SECRET centres around three women, most notably Cecilia Fitzpatrick. Perfectly put-together, successful, organised, Cecilia has her life together raising her three adorable daughters with her handsome, loving husband John-Paul in the Sydney suburbs. When her daughter's new obsession switches from Titanic to The Berlin Wall, Cecilia eager to connect, mentions that she has a piece in the attic from her European travels in the early 90's. When she goes to seek it out she comes across a letter from her husband which says to be opened in the event of his death. Like Pandora in the old legend, Cecilia cannot help herself and the secrets that spill from the letter have the power to not only destroy her idyllic family life but have far reaching consequences she cannot even imagine.
This book was the very definition of a page-turner for me. Moriarty is a skilful story-weaver, whose emotionally charged passages kept me enthralled and characters whose actions compelled me to care and root for them. Each of the three stories, Cecelia struggling to keep it all together, Tess learning to cope on her own after splitting from her husband and Rachel finding herself all alone having lost her husband and daughter and staggered by the news her son and family are moving to the other side of the world were captivating. The secrets in John-Paul's letter threaten the balance of their lives in ways that are both complex and incomprehensible as are their actions in response to the secrets.
The secret itself is not the story; it's how people react to it, the sacrifices they make, and the limits that are tested in order for life to find its equilibrium again. This book affected me greatly while reading it, the sheer emotion it raised in me as it made me realise that no matter how much you know a person, you cannot possibly know everything and no matter how small an action is for you, its result can be catastrophic for someone else. Chaos Theory plays a big part in this book and made it even more compelling to read.
The characterisation was spot on and I connected immediately with each POV, engrossed in all three stories equally and Moriarty's snappy dialogue was a joy to read.
Utterly readable and pacy, the pages whizzed by at light speed as the crescendo intensified to a stunning conclusion that left me stunned and breathless. Highly recommend.
on 24 August 2014
when I started the book I didn't think I would like it as I thought it was a romance. I am so glad I stuck with it. This is one of the best books I have read.
Beautifully written, I honestly feel I know the characters.
Bittersweet, tragic, heart breaking, funny.
I will be reading everything this author has written. Highly recommended.
on 2 November 2014
Reviews are entirely subjective and I'm sure many people would enjoy this book more than I have. I usually read crime thrillers but it was the title and the fact this book was everywhere that made me buy it. I'm sorry to say I got three quarter way through and haven't had the heart to pick it up to finish it. There are lots of characters which I found it hard to keep track of, and some of the characters are going through such a miserable time I lost heart reading about them. Having said that the author writes with a lovely style and if you like this genre then you will most likely enjoy it.
on 21 March 2016
Cecelia Fitzpatrick has the perfect life, a devoted husband and three lovely daughters. One day, she finds a sealed envelope with a letter inside asking her for to read it in the event of her husband Jean-Paul’s death. She is wracked by curiosity and eventually opens it to discover a shocking secret.
Alongside learning about Cecelia’s story, we learn about other characters that either work or attend St Angela’s school. These characters are beautifully described and the author seamlessly entwines all the different characters into the storyline. The thoughts and feelings of each character are described so vividly that it makes you feel like you know each one.
I devoured this book over the one weekend and absolutely loved it! Liane Moriarty has a unique way of really drawing you in as I was unable to put this book down.
I loved the “Sliding Doors” element of this book and it really makes you think about how split decisions and actions can change the course of life forever. It really left me thinking and I’m sure this book will stay with me for a while.
on 16 April 2015
So I found the concept intriguing, but was a little sceptical about what the book could do with it. Finally gave into the intrigue and the positive reviews and decided to give it a go. Got through the book pretty quickly, as I just wanted to get it over with so I could move on to something else.
I found it incredibly dull. The major plot and the big reveal itself was great. I didn't guess what the secret revealed, but after it was, I felt that I should have pieced it together sooner, and I think many readers probably will.
I think the dullness came mainly from the characters. The use of internal dialogue to 'character develop' is irritating for me as a reader, personally. It's just a way to explain traits and acttions without naturally exploring those elements and letting them show through the writing itself. I also feel that there are too many protagonists, all utilising this device, but none of the characters are defined enough that their inner voice is distinct, therefore it becomes rather trite. There was an entire major sub-plot, which really could have been removed completely, as it was a diversion and not really related to the main journey enough to have any substantial effect. This may have allowed fewer characters to be explored in more details and methods, allowing for a more pleasant read.
Too much jumping about between stories to try to build suspense. When one of those three stories is pretty irrelevant, you lose a large chunk of the book and this tactic loses its effect.
After reading all the glowing reviews on Amazon, I eagerly ordered The Husband's Secret. It is only when I read the biography that I realised I had read another of the author's books, "What Alice Forgot", which I remembered kind of liking but finding a bit slow in places.
I am really quite undecided how I feel about this book. There are some parts I like, but I can't say I'm as impressed as other reviewers.
The basic premise is that three women's lives will intersect, however, I feel each character could have probably coped in a stand alone novel of their own, each has so much going on that I don't feel they are done justice in this novel. I got confused over who was who at the beginning of the book, definitely with Cecilia running off the names of her friends (who have no real part in the story), her 3 daughters, husband, schoolteachesr etc. It took a long time for Cecilia to decide to read her husband's letter and I think the fallout got a bit repetitive in places.
Rachel is the now elderly mother of a murdered teen plodding through life looking for answers she thinks she will never get. I think her loneliness was captured by the author quite well, but again, feel like the surface of this woman and her problems was just scratched. I think there was far more potential to explore her story.
And then we have Tess, who has been betrayed by those closest to her and needs time to figure things out. Again, I thought Tess's story had so much scope but combined with the other two females, there didn't seem room to go into it.
I found the book to be quite slow in places and was wishing pages away where nothing seems to happen just to get to the meaty bits. I think for me, the underlying story is a great read, however, I found Cecilia's scenes really repetitive, and Tess's quite slow. Rachel was the only one I had any real empathy for but then found her "resolution" at the end a little off key.
It is worth a read but didn't quite hit the mark for me.