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The Husband’s Secret

Okay so if you were quick and slick you might have noticed that I wrote this post already and now I’m rewriting it because I really hated the way I wrote it. Does that make sense?

In case you didn’t know this about me, I love to read. Always have, always will. I’m always looking for book suggestions and I get really nerdy excited when I come across someone who has read the same book as me. So this year I thought I’d join in on Bon’s Book Club. I don’t know if I’ll read every book every month, but so far I am 1 for 1.

So January’s book is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. The book description intrigued me. I love stories where characters are all connected but you don’t always know how and they don’t always know it either. Like that movie Valentine’s Day. Basically, I loved this book. And I’m going to say now that there are spoilers so if you want to read the novel, stop reading here.

“Australian author Moriarty, in her fifth novel (after The Hypnotist’s Love Story), puts three women in an impossible situation and doesn’t cut them any slack. Cecilia Fitzpatrick lives to be perfect: a perfect marriage, three perfect daughters, and a perfectly organized life. Then she finds a letter from her husband, John-Paul, to be opened only in the event of his death. She opens it anyway, and everything she believed is thrown into doubt. Meanwhile, Tess O’Leary’s husband, Will, and her cousin and best friend, Felicity, confess they’ve fallen in love, so Tess takes her young son, Liam, and goes to Sydney to live with her mother. There she meets up with an old boyfriend, Connor Whitby, while enrolling Liam in St. Angela’s Primary School, where Cecilia is the star mother. Rachel Crowley, the school secretary, believes that Connor, St. Angela’s PE teacher, is the man who, nearly three decades before, got away with murdering her daughter—a daughter for whom she is still grieving. Simultaneously a page-turner and a book one has to put down occasionally to think about and absorb, Moriarty’s novel challenges the reader as well as her characters, but in the best possible way.” source

So the secret is… he’s not gay. Because that’s what I thought. No, the secret is the husband killed a girl when he was in high school.

Here are the questions from Bon and my answers:

+ The book is told from the viewpoint of three women. Which women did you like the most and why? Whom did you dislike the most and why?
I didn’t necessarily dislike any of the women. I loved how each woman was so strong and so weak in different ways. I’ll go through each woman seperately.
Cecilia: I loved her organization, her super-mom persona, her inability to shut up when she is nervous, and how fiercly devoted to her family she is. I hated how obsessed she seemed with her daughter’s beauty which was a pretty obvious foreshadow to me although I didn’t know exactly what it was foreshadowing. I also hate her husband’s name John Paul. I hate two first names. Her story was the most interesting in that it contained the secret but it also got a little monotonous at parts. Okay, we get it your world has been rocked. Okay, your daughter is gorgeous. Okay, you’re no longer the Tupperware Queen.

Tess: I loved her awkward she is in social situations, how she feels like no one believes she is as shy as she is, her relationship with her cousin, and when she lets go of her inhibitions. I hate how she second guesses herself and that she goes back with her husband. I think I related the most to Tess which I’m surprised about because sometimes I think I am more like Cecilia. But I think I’m shyer than people realize (most people don’t think I’m shy) and I recently let go of some inhibitions. I also have a tough relationship with one of my cousin’s that I used to be super close with and so I really related to that part especially because a lot of their strain revolves around dependency and body issues. Whereas Cecilia and Rachel’s stories sometimes got a little predictable and annoying, I feel like Tess’s was in constant motion. Her story was anti-climatic but her story line was constantly moving. I also loved her Mom and how we learn that marriages don’t always break up for the reasons we thought they did.

Rachel: I love her quiet soul, her obsessiveness over knowing who killed her daughter, her struggle to hold on to routine, her thoughts about her daughter-in-law, and her growth at the end. I hate her obsessiveness over knowing who killed her daughter, her complete disregard of her daughter-in-law’s attempts to get to know her, and her boring life. If you hadn’t noticed I love and hate the same things about Rachel. I’ll admit her parts of the story were the slowest parts for me and the ones I just wanted to get through. It just all had to do with her daughter and her singular focus on Conner as the killer. But when we started to get her son’s story and see how he was affected by his sister’s death it got good. I loved Rachel’s growth at the end when she started to accept her daughter-in-law, begins to let go of the past, and starts to live again. I feel out of all the characters she had the most growth.

+ What would you have done if you had found out the secret that Celia did? Did you agree with the way she handled it? What is the “right” thing to do in a situation like that?
This is the 64,000 dollar question isn’t it? We as readers have more knowledge than the characters do. We learn that the autopsy was done incorrectly and that Janie actually had a medical condition and John Paul didn’t cause her death. So technically, he is innocent. But he still flew into a rage. A rage that is apparently unlike him. So, idk. If I was Cecilia I think I would feel conflicted just like she did. John Paul doesn’t seem the type to kill anyone, she has been married to him for years, has three kids with him, and always felt she knew him. Then he’s a killer. You’re no longer looking at your husband through the same lens. I guess I feel that him going to jail wouldn’t change the fact that Janie died and I wouldn’t turn him in. But I don’t know if I could stay married to him because I would constantly be questioning everything he did. I think I might want him to confess to Rachel and have her handle it.

+ What was the point of the side story with Tess? Do you excuse the way she acted during that week because of the uncertainty in her marriage?

I don’t think I thought of any of Tess’s story as a side story. Yes, I excuse it. Her world had been rocked and she was trying to figure out who she is and what her marriage is. Conner was a rebound and one that she needed to have. I wanted her to stay with Conner actually. It seemed she came alive during that part of the story and instantly withered once her husband came back into the story. Plus I think I’d always be afraid he was going to accidentally fall in love with someone again and then say jk!

+ Do you believe the bike accident was adequate “penance” for what John Paul had done?

I just don’t know. Yes, it affects John Paul but it really affects that annoyingly pretty daughter. She’s the one who has to live like that forever. I do believe in karma so I felt something was bound to happen to “right the wrong.” It just seemed so weird to me. Wouldn’t Rachel also be negatively affected knowing she had run her over? I feel that would really bother me. And it wasn’t quite eye for an eye. So I don’t know.

+ Did you like the resolution of the book? Did you feel there was enough closure?

Since I read this so long ago I really can’t remember the conclusion and how I felt. I do know that I don’t like that Tess went back to her husband, I love that Rachel came alive and is changing her relationship with her family, and I don’t know how I felt about Cecilia. I don’t like Tess’s new secret. I would want to know if I was her.

Speaking of side stories, I felt the whole Berlin Wall aspect was a major side story that I just didn’t get. Why did the author keep going back to it? What in the world was she trying to say? That one brick can crumble the whole wall? Yes, maybe that’s it. Maybe the one brick is John Paul’s secret and when it was removed from the wall everyone’s metaphoric walls came down. Now that sounds like something a person with a master’s degree in English would say!

This is a link up so be sure to visit Bon’s blog and check out what others have to say. And comment below! Have you read the book? What did you think? Next month is I Am Malala by Mala Yousafzai.

Book Review: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weekly trips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

I really wanted to like Tea Obreht’s debut novel.  I thought, hey here is a girl not that much older than me publishing a novel that got rave reviews and isn’t my normal-of-late dystopian novel so I’ll probably like it.  I don’t know if it wasn’t just my cup of tea during the time I was reading it or if it just isn’t my cup of tea in general.  My bookclub voted to read this novel and I was looking forward to discussing it with them but, of course, my job kept me away and I missed out on hearing what everyone else had to say.  I prefer to go to bookclub when I didn’t jive with the book as opposed to when I did because I feel my ears are more open.  I love listening to people share what made them fall in love with a read and having my eyes opened to something new.  Now, admittedly I read this book over the span of 2 months while traveling a lot and never sat down for a long stretch of time to read so I think I missed out on the flow of the text.  With that said…

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht weaves a complex tale of secrets, death, myth, folklore, and the relationship between humans and animals.  Through the narrator, Natalia, we meet her famed physician grandfather who raises her on stories of the Tiger’s Wife and the deathless man, her best friend Zora who joins her on a medical mission that takes them over the border to their wartime “enemies” where they meet: a friar whose brother’s death holds many secrets, his parents who are the key to those secrets, and workers tearing apart a vineyard in search of their family member’s body.  Through her journey across the border, Natalia finally learns the secrets of her grandfather’s mysterious disappearance and location of his death and begins to understand more about the reasons behind his childhood stories.

Obreht shows a lot of constraint in not explaining every little detail which often serves to frustrate the reader rather than inspire them.  At times I did want a little more detail but understood her reasons for not spelling everything out.  It served to make me feel what Natalia was feeling: constant frustration and confusion over her grandfather’s mysterious ways.  Obreht also manages to seamlessly go between Natalia’s present and the grandfather’s past, sometimes a little too seamlessly where I forgot which “world” I was in.  And while in the grandfather’s childhood, we are also taken into the worlds of some of the citizens of his hometown.  All of Obreht’s tales serve to drive the reader further into the mysteries of the tiger and it’s relationship to Natalia’s grandfather.

Where my dissatisfaction lies is in my own inability to understand where Obreht was going and the reasons behind the story.  This is where bookclub would have come in handy.  I definitely feel that The Tiger’s Wife deserves more time and attention than I was able to give it and I plan to one day return to its pages.

I’d say if you want to think, then this is a number 1 recommend.  If you don’t want to think, don’t bother.  For me, I rate it a number 2 recommend.


Feature and Follow Friday

Two posts in one day!  Aren’t you all so lucky…

I have fallen off the track of writing about what I read in this blog so I decided to join this Feature and Follow from Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  I found out about the FF by reading A Midsummer Night’s Read.  Each week the two bloggers host a Feature and Follow all in the righteous effort to gain more followers for everyone and to exposed to more and more delicious reads!  So without further ado… my first Feature and Follow post:

Q: Have you ever looked at book’s cover and thought, This is going to horrible? But, was instead pleasantly surprised? Show us the cover and tell us about the book.

This could be a popular choice or a much contested choice but it was the first one that came to mind for me!  I read Hunger Games when it was first published and only because a friend convinced me because she knew I loved dystopian and I loved YA.  At first glance, the cover is boring, dark, and lacks any real illustration that outlines the story inside.  So I was pretty skeptical.  The wonderful thing about this cover is it is one of those covers that makes you think.  Once you finish The Hunger Games and take time to wonder why the cover is what it is, you realize that it is dark, and empty, and a little depressing for a reason.  You realize that the strange gold bird on the cover is a Mockingjay and that it becomes the symbol of the trilogy.  That is the beauty of this deceiving cover: it is not until you delve into the book and reflect that you realize the reasons behind the illustration.

There you have it!  My first Feature and Follow.  Quick and painless.  Be sure to follow the hosts at Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  And don’t forget to read all of the other entries from the other wonderful bloggers!

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