The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty’s 2013 novel, The Husband’s Secret, has already sold over a million copies worldwide, and has enjoyed time as both a New York Times and UK No.1 bestseller. I can see why! This bold, daring novel was a wonderful surprise and is a women’s fiction title not to be missed.

“It was all because of the Berlin Wall” that Cecelia stumbled upon the letter: a sealed letter addressed to her in her husband’s handwriting with the words “to be opened only in the event of my death.” Now Cecelia – whose life looks exactly as a perfect suburban life should – must decide what to do about the secret she has discovered.

Intertwined through Cecilia’s story, we also share those of Rachel and Tess. Rachel, who works at Cecilia’s children’s school, is a mother who has never stopped grieving her daughter. Tess meets both of these women when she moves back home to her mother when her marriage falls apart. Three very different women stand at significant turning points in their lives, and are about to have to make some very difficult decisions. Three very different women have one thing in common: secrets.

Every now and then you read a book that really challenges you, that makes you consider where you would draw your moral line. The Husband’s Secret is just such a book, and the challenges it presented caught me quite off-guard and took me quite by surprise. Moriarty asks us just how far we would go to protect those we love. How wrong is wrong when your family is involved?

There is a real “every woman” quality to the women in The Husband’s Secret, offering readers the sense that these could be any women, anywhere. This acts to deepen our own questioning of ourselves as the readers because, well, we know that that could be us. The setting matches this sentiment: while set in suburban Australia, we could just as well be in England…this is a universal story. While all three main characters’ threads are incredibly well written, each clearly contrasting the others, I was particularly enamoured with Cecelia’s. She is battling a huge moral dilemma and, as her story reads, you can truly feel the chaos of her mental chatter.

As the reader, we experience all three women via their thoughts, their internal and external observations of the world. As these intensify, so too does the story build to a wonderful dramatic climax: Moriarty expertly quickens the pace at just the right moment so that you cannot help but match that by quickening the movement of your eyes on the page and breathing faster to keep up.

Moriarty’s main characters are real, complex, and multi-dimensional. Her supporting cast of characters are diverse and interesting, and equally tangible. The plot is solid and intriguing, and the writing is intelligent and layered. Best of all, this is a story that has all the right elements to draw you in emotionally, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be highly aware of a few big lumps in your throat as you read this touching story of love, family, and the secrets we keep.

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TITLE: The Husband’s Secret
AUTHOR(S): Liane Moriarty
PUBLISHER: Macmillan
RRP: $24.99
ISBN: 9781742613949

Emma is an ardent writer, reviewer and editor. She currently lives in Orange, NSW, where she shares her time between writing, undergraduate studies in Linguistics and French (oui, c’est vrai!), and her “day job” as a yoga teacher. Emma especially enjoys reading women’s fiction, contemporary fiction and the classics.

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