Review

The Husband's Secret

by Liane Moriarty

In this multi-layered page-turner, three women struggle with unbearable situations. Cecilia Fitzpatrick is an ultra-organized wife, mother and Tupperware salesperson living in Sydney, Australia. She enjoys a happy marriage with her husband, John-Paul, sharing the joys of parenting their three quirky daughters. When one of those daughters develops a fascination with the Berlin Wall, it leads Cecilia into her attic to search for a chunk of the wall she acquired as a 20-year-old on a jaunt through Europe.

The attic is well-organized but too close; John-Paul, suffering from claustrophobia, refuses to go into it. The only part of the attic that Cecilia has failed to organize is a stack of shoeboxes in which John-Paul saves each year's financial records. Although finding her bit of the Berlin Wall quickly, she accidently knocks down the tower of shoeboxes and must gather up the contents. That's when she finds something decidedly curious: a business-sized envelope inscribed in John-Paul's handwriting:

For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick
               To be opened only in the event of my death

"THE HUSBAND'S SECRET is the ultimate page-turner. How riveting is it? I devoured it in one deliciously unfettered day, unable to stop reading on and on. Author Liane Moriarty capably handles her cast of characters, weaving their stories together into a fascinating tapestry."

Cecilia is charmed at first, but then wonders if her husband knows something dire about his health. She mentions the envelope to John-Paul, who reacts very strangely. He begs her not to open it, claiming to be embarrassed. However, her daughters comment on their father; one claims she saw him crying, while the other makes an observation that Cecilia can't ignore. She is torn between her promise to John-Paul and her duty as a wife and mother. The letter inevitably will be opened, and the secret inside will alter everything in Cecilia's world.

Meanwhile, another man divulges a secret to his wife. Tess O'Leary's world has revolved around her business partnership and relationships with her husband, Will, and her cousin Felicity. The three have formed a tight-knit family that includes Tess and Will's young son, Liam. When Will and Felicity tell Tess that they have something they need to say, she imagines it has to do with the advertising agency they share. Instead, the two people she is closest to devastate her, informing her that they have fallen in love. With her life shaken to the core, Tess takes Liam to stay with her mother in Sydney. To her amazement, when she enrolls Liam in St. Angela's, the local school, she discovers Connor Whitby, an ex-boyfriend, teaching PE.

The school secretary at St. Angela's is a woman named Rachel Crowley, who is well-known in the area, partly because her teenage daughter was murdered more than two decades earlier. Although the crime was never officially solved, Rachel believes Connor to be the murderer. Meanwhile, the only part of her life that has given her joy recently is about to be removed, when her son and daughter-in-law take her grandson along on a move to New York.

THE HUSBAND'S SECRET is the ultimate page-turner. How riveting is it? I devoured it in one deliciously unfettered day, unable to stop reading on and on. Author Liane Moriarty capably handles her cast of characters, weaving their stories together into a fascinating tapestry. These women are fully three-dimensional, and readers will experience a rollercoaster of emotions with them. Cecilia's story is particularly compelling; once she reads the forbidden letter, all bets are off. There is no predicting how the story could possibly end, and I predict no reader will manage to resist plunging onward.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on August 2, 2013

The Husband's Secret
by Liane Moriarty

  • Publication Date: July 30, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
  • ISBN-10: 0399159347
  • ISBN-13: 9780399159343