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.