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.


My thanks to Real Readers for a review copy.

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