Book Review: The Husband's Secret

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Title: The Husband's Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Penguin UK; Latest Edition edition (29 August 2013)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery
Price: Rs. 281 on Amazon
Pages: 432

Liane Moriarty became one of my favorite writers the minute I started reading 'Big Little Lies'. I loved the language used and the pace of the storytelling. Most importantly, I loved the way she deals with the lives of normal women, handling their flaws, their foibles, their jealousies, their insecurities with care and precision. Since the first book I read of hers earned five stars from me, I bought her other two famous books, 'The Husband's Secret' and 'Truly Madly Guilty'. Since 'Big Little Lies' had every emotion that I could ask for in a book and it was one of the top five books that I've read in 2017, I had gargantuan expectations from 'The Husband's Secret', especially when the blurb looked so interesting and had a strong, independent woman as the protagonist.

This book just like the former I've read, revolves around the day to day lives of three women. Cecilia Fitzpatrick is a happily married mother-of-three who leads a seemingly perfect life selling Tupperware. Tess O'Leary is a career woman who returns to Sydney with her son after her husband, Will, confesses that he is in love with her cousin and best friend, Felicity. Rachel Crowley, the secretary of the school where Cecilia's daughters and Tess' son now study, is yet to come to terms with the murder of her daughter. She suspects Connor, a teacher in the school of having killed her precious daughter three decades ago. One fine day, Cecilia finds a letter in the attic that is addressed to her in her husband John-Paul's handwriting, stating that it needs to be opened only in the event of his death. After toying with it for a few days, she finally opens the letter and the confession in it has massive consequences for her and the other women.

This book starts brilliantly taking us into the lives of these three women. Their mundane routines, they eccentricities are described so well that you feel like the scene is unfolding in front of you as you sit in a balcony and watch it with a hot cup of tea. This is the magic of Liane Moriarty's writing. Crisp and to the point. She talks about complex relationships so well and her dialogues are charming, funny and honest. This book picked up well, but when the titular "secret" was finally revealed, it turned out to be what I had predicted pages ahead. From then on, the tale became tedious and I had to force myself to keep going. I thought that maybe the mystery might wind up well in the end, but the three strong independent women that the book introduced initially turn out to be anything but that, giving in to the situations around them.

I'm not sure if what happened to Cecilia's family in the end is justified or not. Maybe the author was talking about a take on Karma here, but for a mystery novel it did not make sense. Honestly, I found the whole bit unnecessary. Too far-fetched even. While I could understand her struggle with the truth when she learns of her husband's secret, the secret in itself did not add up. I found it trivial and incomplete. If I talk about the questions in my mind regarding this secret, I probably would give it up here, so I'm letting it be. I'll just say that I was disappointed with the secret and the events that lead to it before and after the revelation. Rachel Crowley as a grieving mother, battling the loss of her daughter to murder and that of her son and grandson to her daughter-in-law is a better character, but how the secret impacts her and what she does or doesn't do about it does not justify the grief she carries with her throughout the book.What she does felt forced, almost like a planned accident.

The most disconnected link in the book happens to be the love triangle between Tess, Will and Felicity. How it was relevant to the original story, I don't know. Nor did I understand the "love" between Will and Felicity. The explicit conversations between Tess and Felicity regarding Will was weird too. As a strong woman that Tess was portrayed to be, how could she manage to have a straight-faced conversation with the other woman in her husband's life who happens to be her best friend, cousin and business partner is something that I did not get. Also, the parentage of her second child was questionable too. There can be another book called 'The Wife's Secret' for this. Maybe the book would have been better if this was edited out of the story and more importance was given to Jean-Paul and why he did what he did. A strong back story about his childhood would have helped too.

While the writing style and the use of language is brilliant, the story does fall flat as do the three women around whom it revolves. Maybe I started this book with really high expectations, but the story line being predictable and boring at times takes this book down. Still, I'm not giving up on the author. Her writing style continues to be her USP.




Verdict: Read it with no expectations. Or, if you love the author and her writing style.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

20 comments:

  1. Definitely woudl like to read this. I love big little lies and this book sounds so interesting.

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    1. Do read it. It is not as good as Big Little Lies, but maybe you will like it.

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  2. Thanks for sharing an honest review, Soumya. I am planning to read 'Big Little Lies' that I was gifted by a friend and it seems it is still one of the Moriarty's best. Your review confirms that.
    Do check out my ​post ​on parenting from this week. ​

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    1. You're welcome, Esha. Do read this one before 'Big Little Lies', you might not be as disappointed as I was then.

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  3. I have the book but am yet to read it. Sounds interesting even with the drawbacks. Will read it soon.

    Hugs!

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    1. Do read it, then we shall discuss it over some coffee! <3

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  4. I read Big Little Lies after reading your review and loved it. I read 'Truly Madly Guilty' after that with high expectations and was disappointed. Maybe it was the high expectations that spoiled it though.
    Planning to read 'The Husband's Secret' , let me try to put the expectations aside and give it a clean shot.

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    1. Exactly what happened to me, Smitha. I am yet to read 'Truly Madly Guilty' but after the tepid this one, I'm giving it some time. Will have to put all expectations aside for it.

      Yes please, else there is no way you'll enjoy it.

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  5. I haven't read any of the author's books yet. I've a copy of Big Little Lies and I'm planning to start reading it soon. And as for reading this book, I think I'll decide after reading Big Little Lies.

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    1. If you want to read her books, don't start with 'Big Little Lies'. Read the others and then come to this one. This way maybe it will do justice to the reader.

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  6. I think the main aspect in such rads, is to not have expectations, and read it on a relaxed afternoon, on days hwen you dont want to exercise yout brain much. So the plot being predictable doesnt really come as a bother.

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    1. 'Big Little Lies' was so fabulous that is was almost impossible to not have expectations from her next book.

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  7. I want to read it despite the shortcomings that you mentioned. Just finished reading Big Little Lies and loved it. Better than the TV series.

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    1. The book was definitely better! I hope you enjoy this one, Rachna.

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  8. After big little lies, I have been dying to read the author's other books. I like that her women are real strong and have brains too. I would still read the book.

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    1. Do go ahead with this one with no expectations.

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  9. I read this book a couple of years back and really liked it. As an author, I like her work. But I'm yet to read Big Little Lies. Have read Truly, Madly, Guilty and liked it a little less than The Husband's Secret.

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    1. She's a really good author, no doubt about that. If you haven't read 'Big Little Lies' yet, then you are in for a treat. I have heard that TMG is not as good as this one, so I'm a bit skeptical about reading it now.

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  10. I enjoyed watching the series and the Big Little Lies book is on my wishlist on Kindle for a long time. Waiting for the price to drop ;)

    I will start with that one. This one, I shall save for later, based on your recommendation.

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    1. If you haven't read Big Little Lies yet, I'd suggest you read the others and the get to this one. That way there might not be any disappointments.

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