The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret

Published by Penguin




Synopsis from Amazon:

At the heart of
The Husband’s Secret
by Liane Moriarty is a letter that’s not meant to be
read . . 

Mother of
three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic.
Written in her husband’s hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my
death. 

Curious, she
opens it – and time stops.

John-Paul’s
letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their
family as well as the lives of others.

Cecilia –
betrayed, angry and distraught – wants to do the right thing, but right for
who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through
her heart. But if she reveals her husband’s secret, she will hurt those she
loves most . . 

Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, or anyone who enjoyed One Moment, One Morning or The Midwife’s Confession, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty is about the things we know, the things we don’t, and whether or not we ever get to choose. Above all, though, it’s about how we must live with the consequences of our actions – whether we like it or not.

My thoughts:

This book follows the lives of three women, spread over a week and is set in Sydney in the lead up to the Easter period. Cecilia Fitzpatrick, happily married to John-Paul and living with their three children. Rachel Crowley, a widow, grieving over the death of her teenage daughter many years before and lastly, Tess O’Leary, who has been betrayed by the two people closest to her.

This was the first of Liane Moriarty’s books that I have read and I became completely engrossed in the lives of Cecilia, Rachel and Tess. At first, the three women’s stories seem completely random but as the story progresses there is a connection which binds them together.

‘The husband’s secret’ of the title is a letter accidentally found by Cecilia and written by her husband John-Paul many years before and hidden away. It is marked to be opened in the event of his death and although she initially resists opening it, not surprisingly temptation takes over. I’m not sure that I could have left it unopened either, however once Pandora’s box has been opened, it can’t be closed. The contents of the letter are devastating and her world is ripped apart. Her ultimate decision has far reaching consequences not only for her own family but for the lives of others too.

There are quite a few characters in the book, although not all of them have a major part in the storyline and at first I found it confusing trying to remember the different family relationships but once you get into the story this becomes clear.

Throughout the book are short chapters telling the backstory leading to the death of Rachel’s daughter Janie. This was written in such a way as to be with the benefit of hindsight and I found this an interesting addition to the story.

The main characters, particularly those of the three women, are all well written and interesting. An observer may not agree with their actions but can empathise with the situations they find themselves in. All three women are forced to reconsider their lives and family relationships are explored along with the question of forgiveness and love.

The ending of the book was unusual in the way it was written however this fitted perfectly with the rest of the story.

This is a thought provoking and compelling read. I would certainly recommend it and look forward to reading further books by this author. 

4/5

My thanks to Real Readers for a review copy. 

Author website: www.lianemoriarty.com.au

Some Day I’ll Find You – Richard Madeley

Some Day I'll Find You

Published by Simon & Schuster UK

Synopsis from Amazon:

James Blackwell is sexy
and handsome and a fighter pilot – every girl’s dream partner. At least
that is what Diana Arnold thinks when her brother first introduces
them. Before long they are in love and marry hastily just as war is
declared. 

Then fate delivers what is the first of its cruel twists:
James, the day of their wedding, is shot down over Northern France and
killed. Diana is left not only a widow but pregnant with their child.

Ten years later, contentedly remarried, Diana finds herself in the
south of France, sitting one morning in a sunny village square. A taxi
draws up and she hears the voice of a man speaking English – the
unmistakable voice of someone who will set out to torment her and
blackmail her and from whom there can be only one means of escape…

My thoughts:

I don’t read many ‘celebrity’ written
novels but the storyline for this debut novel sounded like something I would
enjoy and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.   It was well written with an interesting and
captivating storyline.  I loved the short
sharp chapters in the first part of the book; 
for me it certainly makes for quicker reading as I think I’ll just read
one more chapter.…and then it’s the early hours!

The first part of the book gives an
indication of what kind of a man James Blackwell really is.  Despite his good looks and charm, he is
actually the type of man that should come with a warning notice.   His insidious charm wins over the Arnold
family, especially Diana.  In the time
leading up to the outbreak of WW2, Diana and James enjoy a whirlwind courtship
and marriage and then tragedy strikes.  

Although Diana is written as a feisty
character she seemed to have had a naivety and vulnerability where James was
concerned and at times with the benefit of being an onlooker I wanted to shout
“no don’t do it”.   The main characters
are extremely well drawn.  Some of the
lesser characters are not quite as well developed but nevertheless they have
sufficient depth to make them believable. 

The main part of the story is set in the
south of France and it’s obvious from the excellent descriptions of the
locality that this comes from the author’s personal knowledge.  I could imagine myself sitting at a pavement
café in the sunny south of France watching the story unfold. 

I don’t want to give away any more of the
plot, you can enjoy finding out for yourself but the twists and turns made this
a book that I couldn’t put down and it was a very enjoyable read.  My only niggle is with the poor proof reading
– in some places the wrong names were used, for example ‘James’ instead of
‘John’ which was somewhat confusing and I also spotted some grammatical
errors.    I expect to find mistakes in a
proof copy but not in a copy on public sale.

4/5

The Night Rainbow – Claire King

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing


Synopsis from Goodreads:

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It is summer in the south of France, and Pea and her little
sister Margot spend their days running free and inventing games in the meadow
behind their house. But Pea is burdened with worries beyond her five and a half
years. Her father has died in an accident, and her mother has just lost a baby.
Maman is English, isolated in this small, foreign village, and in her sadness
has retreated even further. Pea tries her best to help, makes Margot behave,
brings home yellow flowers, but she can’t make Maman happy again. When Pea
meets Claude, a man with a dog who seems to love the meadow as she does, she
believes that she and Margot have found a friend, and maybe even a new Papa.
But why do the villagers view Claude with suspicion and what secret is he
keeping in his strange, empty house? Beautifully written, haunting and full of
surprises, The Night Rainbow is a novel about innocence and
experience, grief and compassion, and the blessings and perils of imagination
and truth.


My thoughts:

“We stand in the courtyard and wonder
where we will go today, although the answer has been the same for two summers,
one winter and a birthday.  Our choosing
began when Maman came back from hospital last year.  She had changed from fat to thin, but she
didn’t bring back a baby like she promised. 
She left it at the hospital, along with her happiness”.

This is a beautifully written and poignant
story and I totally fell in love with Pea. 
When the story begins we are introduced to the narrator, 5 year old Pea
(aka Peony) and her 4 year old sister Margot.  
Pea has a much older voice for her years and longs to make her mother
happy again but nothing seems to make her mother smile.   Her mother has suffered a double loss –
first her baby and then her partner in a tragic accident and her grief is
evident.  As a result, Pea and Margot are
left to their own devices most of the time and Maman takes no more than a
cursory interest in where they go or what they do.  Their mother is pregnant again with their
late father’s baby and she hardly has the energy or the will to look after
herself, let alone Pea and Margot.  

During one of their games in the meadow,
they meet Claude, an older man and his dog Merlin.  Claude is treated with suspicion by some of
the villagers and seems to be as sad and lonely as they are and as the story progresses,
we find out the reason for Claude’s sadness.  
Pea thinks a new daddy will make her Maman happy however is Claude that
person?  Claude tries to make things
better for them and builds a tree house in which he places biscuits and drinks
for them to find.  

The trust and innocence in Pea’s nature is
very evident throughout and the reader sees life through Pea’s eyes – she
doesn’t understand why Claude won’t give her a hug or why their grandmother
doesn’t seem to like them.  4 year old
Margot is very much the bossy one, again with a much older voice than a 4 year
old would have.  Pea has such a vivid
imagination, always inventing stories and games for them to play and it was
only when I was halfway through the book that I realised that the story had a
deeper meaning.

I really enjoyed this book, there is a
wonderful sense of place and I could actually imagine myself in the French
countryside along with Pea and Margot. 
There were times when I could have cried for Pea –  when there was no food, or clean clothes and
at times the girls’ innocent observations made me smile.  

This a wonderful debut novel and I look
forward to reading more by this author.

 

 5/5

Author website: http://www.claire-king.com

It’s Raining Men by Milly Johnson

It's Raining Men

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

From Amazon:

A summer getaway to
remember. But is a holiday romance on the cards…? Best friends from work May,
Lara and Clare are desperate for some time away. They have each had a rough
time of it lately and need some serious R & R. So they set off to a
luxurious spa for ten glorious days, but when they arrive at their destination,
it seems it is not the place they thought it was. In fact, they appear to have
come to entirely the wrong village… Here in Ren Dullem nothing is quite what it
seems; the lovely cobbled streets and picturesque cottages hide a secret that
the villagers have been keeping hidden for years. Why is everyone so unfriendly
and suspicious? Why does the landlord of their holiday rental seem so rude? And
why are there so few women in the village? Despite the strange atmosphere, the
three friends are determined to make the best of it and have a holiday to
remember. But will this be the break they all need? Or will the odd little
village with all its secrets bring them all to breaking point…?

My thoughts:

Milly Johnson is one of my favourite authors and once again she has produced a fabulous read. The writing is witty without being overdone – sometimes when an author tries too hard to be funny, it makes for an irritating read but there were many laugh out loud moments alongside those more serious and sensitively written ones. I loved the characters of the three friends, Lara, May and Clare and from the beginning I felt that they were people I would want to spend time with. There is just the right amount of mystery and romance in the story with a slight magical element that makes this a slightly different type of read to Milly’s previous books. I couldn’t put this one down. A highly recommended read.

5/5

Author website: http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

The Promise

Publisher: Mantle

Synopsis from Goodreads:

1900. Young pianist
Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the
wake of a terrible scandal. Heartbroken and facing destitution, she
finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the
recently widowed Oscar Williams. In desperation she agrees to marry him.

But
when Catherine travels to Oscar’s farm on Galveston island, Texas – a
thousand miles from home – she finds she is little prepared for the life
that awaits her. The island is remote, the weather sweltering, and
Oscar’s little boy Andre is grieving hard for his lost mother. And
though Oscar tries to please his new wife, the secrets of the past sit
uncomfortably between them.

Meanwhile for Nan Ogden, Oscar’s
housekeeper, Catherine’s sudden arrival has come as a great shock. For
not only did she promise Oscar’s first wife that she would be the one to
take care of little Andre, but she has feelings for Oscar which she is
struggling to suppress. And when the worst storm in a generation
descends, the women will find themselves tested as never before…

My thoughts:

The story is narrated
by two women, both from different worlds but with very strong voices and
beliefs.  It is 1900. Nan Ogden is a
young women living in Galveston and a neighbour of Oscar Williams and a great
friend to his late wife Bernadette. Nan promised Oscar’s dying wife that she
would look after Andre, their young son. 
Secretly, she has feelings for Oscar and hopes that one day they might
be reciprocated. 

Catherine Wainwright,
a talented pianist, is around the same age and living in Ohio.  As a result of a scandal involving a married
man, she is ostracised by her community and penniless. After trying to find
someone who will help her, she comes across the name of Oscar Williams, an old
school friend who at the time had a crush on her.  However Oscar, being the son of a coal
merchant was not considered good enough for Catherine – but that was then.  Oscar has now done well for himself in the
intervening years and has his own smallholding in Galveston.  

This was a compelling
read, told by two women – one in love with a man and another who made a
marriage of convenience.  Both women are
constrained by the rules of society which dictates how they should dress and
behave.  Nan is illiterate but knows how
to keep a house whereas Catherine is educated but cannot cook a basic meal.

Nan’s jealousy of
Catherine comes to the fore and she feels usurped by Catherine’s presence as
Oscar’s new wife and it is clear that the two women are too different to be
friends.  However when a great storm
arrives, both women must do whatever they can to survive.  

I adored this book and
found it a compelling read.  It is mainly
set over a relatively short time period of just over a week but so much happens
in that timeframe.  The characters are so
well written and events are described with such detail that the reader feels
like a bystander and by the end of the story I was near to tears.   There is a wonderful sense of place – you
can feel the stifling Texan heat and get a real sense of the remote and vast
landscape where your nearest neighbour is over a mile away.  The story is based on a true event from 1900
when Galveston was torn to shreds and over 6,000 people lost their lives.  I knew nothing of this tragedy before reading
the book and was interested enough to find out more.  

I can’t recommend this book highly enough and will be keen to read more by this author. 

5/5 

Author website: http://annweisgarber.com