Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Book Review: The Husband's Secret

Despite a rather obvious title, this book doesn't revolve around a single secret; there are many secrets in the world and many of them go through life unnoticed. Liane Moriarty is one of those authors who writes impeccably; I've read a few of her novels now and they never disappoint me. Her writing style never fails to draw me in through excellent characterisation and extensive explanations of who is who within the novel. The use of multiple narrators through third person works well, although at first you have to really concentrate as it does take a while before the characters fully settle into place within the novel. Ultimately this book  focuses on three women; Cecilia, Rachel and Tess, all mothers, all different ages and all with different careers but at a point in the novel their lives interlink and they become connected through one secret.

Judging by the title, you would assume that this is a love story, but in fact it is far from a love story. As much as this novel mentions the notion of love frequently, it speaks more about the pain of love; of being in love, of infidelity and unrequited love. It begins with Cecilia finding a letter addressed to her by her husband in the vent of his death; naturally curious, she asks him about it and his reaction wasn't one that she expected. That was definitely the first mention of abnormality within her life, whereas with Rachel we learn fairly on that her daughter was murdered as a teenager and we watch her struggle to cope with the loss, even after twenty years. Tess gets to bear witness to her husband falling in love with someone else, someone that she trusted implicitly and so of course she is shattered and completely uproots her life to clear her mind, taking her young son with her.

On the surface, the three women have nothing in common and don't even know each other until some life changing events unfold and they suddenly find themselves in each others company often, due to Cecilia and Tess' children going to the local school that Rachel is the receptionist at. Tess grew up in Sydney before she made her life in Melbourne and so she did know of some of the past events that seemingly come back to haunt them all. Having the events told through a third person perspective about each of the women in turn was a fantastic way to witness the same event through a different set of eyes; each of them has a different understanding of life, hate and love. During the novel, the three individuals lives and stories become interlinked and we gain much more insight into their pasts and the present. Arguably, Rachel is the most intriguing due to how she struggles to cope with her grief; even her family have suffered due to her intense pain at the loss of Janie. She has fairly bad mood swings as a result of her loss and is desperate to prove who murdered her daughter; understandably, it is hard to find closure when you have no proof of who did it.

The main reason why I enjoyed this book (other than the slightly slow beginning, but that was to expected with so many characters to introduce) was that it didn't focus on what the title suggested; yes, the husband's secret was an important discovery, but it wasn't the sole focus. The novel is a sombre one and I liked that, there was a definite element of realism to the characters; life isn't easy, but sometimes you have to manage, somehow. I loved how Moriarty place little facts and figures into the novel, whilst constantly reminding the reader of the metaphorical Pandora's Box; how sometimes it is imperative to think outside of the box, to imagine what you would do in an unbelievable situation. Lastly, the epilogue blew me away; not only was it incredibly unexpected, it was an interesting finale to the Pandora's Box idea, although I will admit that I would've liked the ending regardless; not all books should have a have a happy ending, as life doesn't always. However, this book successfully opened my mind to thinking and reflecting far more as it definitely wasn't what I expected and that is always a good thing in a book.

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