Rating: 3.5 / 5
Cecilia Fitzpatrick is looking for an item in the attic when she stumbles across an envelope with the words “For my wife Cecilia Fitzpatrick, To be opened only in the event of my death.” By the looks of it, Cecilia’s husband, John-Paul, wrote it years ago, and now Cecilia’s interest is piqued. She wants to know what John-Paul has written in the letter, and why she can only found out about it after he dies. On the other hand, John-Paul clearly does not want her to open it, and is surprised she found it since he misplaced it over a decade ago. Also living in the neighborhood are Tess and Rachel. Rachel works at the school Cecilia’s children attend, and has been silently grieving for over two decades, ever since her only daughter, Janie, was found murdered near a train station. She has always suspected that Connor, the PE teacher, murdered Janie, but has never been able to prove it. Tess has recently moved back to town, following her husband’s revelation that he is in love with her cousin and business partner, Felicity. Tess and Connor dated in high school, and now that Tess is back, the romance between her and Connor has slowly rekindled. Although Cecilia, Tess, and Rachel are more acquaintances than friends, long buried secrets will surface that send the three of them on a collision course.
I was quite surprised with The Husband’s Secret; it definitely was not what I was expecting. Since there are three story lines, the reader know they will eventually converge, but how that happens is a shocker. Cecilia, Tess, and Rachel each have their own distinct personality and voice. On the outside, Cecilia is the quintessential soccer mom, but once she figures out what John-Paul’s secret it, slowly succumbs to the pressure, guilt, shock, and stress of the letter’s contents. No one really knows what to say to Rachel; Janie was murdered over two decades ago, and in this small town where the murder has remained unsolved, people are not sure how to talk to Rachel. As for Tess, she thought her life was pretty decent. She started a successful firm with her husband and cousin, and everyone adores her son Liam. Her world is turned upside down when her husband and cousin admit that they are in love with each other. Hurt and confused, Tess takes Liam and moves back home with her mother.
While I did enjoy The Husband’s Secret, for the first half, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to What Alice Forgot, which I really enjoyed. It seemed like The Husband’s Secret was more of a light, fun, chic lit read, but after turning the last page, I have to say that I ended up liking this one more than I thought I would. Moriarty has the ability to write a book that is easy to read (think summer beach reads), but is actually thought provoking. I recommend The Husband’s Secret for book club, since there’s a lot to delve into with the relationships and consequences of actions taken a long time ago.
Other books by Liane Moriarty: