Monday, September 07, 2015

Contemporary Pandora's Box Novel Asks: How Well Do You Really Know the People You Love?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Any other woman would feel totally overwhelmed by the things Cecilia manages to keep in order every day—a lovely home, a comfortable marriage, three high-achieving children, and a thriving part-time Tupperware business.  When her friends demand to know how she does it all, "she [doesn't] know how to answer them.  She [doesn't] actually understand what they [find] so difficult" (6).  Then, Cecilia happens upon her own Pandora's Box.  Opening it sends her tidy little life into a mighty, life-changing whirlwind.  

Cecilia comes across the dusty envelope one day while searching for an old souvenir in her attic.  It's an innocuous, everyday item, something she wouldn't have even noticed except for the mysterious message scrawled across its front:  For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick, To be opened only in the event of my death.  She can't imagine what on earth John-Paul means by it.  It's probably nothing more than a sentimental love letter, but something about it sends a shiver of foreboding down Cecilia's spine.  Should she open the envelope, read whatever is inside?  Or respect her husband's wishes and set it aside?  Cecilia's a very decisive person, so why can't she make up her mind?  When she mentions the letter to John-Paul, he rushes home from an overseas business trip in a panic.  No longer able to contain her curiosity, Cecilia opens the letter.  That one tiny action changes everything.  Not just for her, but for two other women.  

Unbeknownst to Cecilia, her life is about to intersect with those of Tess Curtis, an advertising guru, and Rachel Crowley, a 68-year-old secretary.  Both women are about to receive bombshells that will shatter their lives in irrevocable ways.  Tied together by John-Paul's damning secret, every member of the trio will have to come to terms with the ugly truth of what really happened in their shared past and determine how it will affect each of their presents.   

As you probably already know, I'm a new—but ardent—fan of Australian novelist Liane Moriarty.  I've read three of her books in the last year or so.  The Husband's Secret is my least favorite of the trio, but that doesn't mean a whole lot, considering I gave Big Little Lies an A and What Alice Forgot a B+.  A B- isn't much of a step down, you know?  The Husband's Secret lost a few points with me only because it's not as intricate or suspenseful as I hoped it would be.  Still, it has all the elements I've come to expect—and love—about a Moriarty book.  With complex, but authentic characters; a twisty, compelling plot; and conflicts that both keep me interested and make me think, this book contains further proof of Moriarty's deft storytelling skills.  While I didn't find The Husband's Secret quite as intriguing as its fellows, it still sucked me in.  It's an engaging read, one I very much enjoyed.   

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, sexual content, and mild violence

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Husband's Secret from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

5 comments:

  1. I also love Liane Moriarty and would rank this one behind the other two you listed. I have read one other one - The Last Aniversary - so far. I have enjoyed them all a lot though - Great review!

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  2. I've heard such great things about Moriarty that I've bought several of her books sure that they'll be amazing. I have heard that this one isn't as good as her others but if I love them I'll be sure to read this one. I am curious what the big secret is.

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  3. I like all of her books too, with What Alice Forgot being my favorite and The Husband's Secret being my least favorite.

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  4. I loved this book, and your headline is spot on and so perfectly fitting.

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this book. I read Big Little Lies too so I'm thinking I should read some more of her books. I usually read them on vacations.

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