Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty REVIEW

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description: To be opened in the event of my death

With one swift, vicious movement, she sliced the envelope open, and pulled out a handwritten letter.

love you and the girls...
so sorry to leave you with this...
cannot bear

The Husband's Secret is a funny, heartbreaking novel of marriage, grief, love and secrets. When her husband announces he's in love with her best friend, painfully shy Tess picks up her young son and returns to her mother's house. There she begins an unexpected affair with an old flame. Rachel is a woman in her sixties consumed by grief and anger at the loss of her daughter twenty years earlier. When her son announces he is taking her beloved grandson overseas, Rachel begins a descent into deeper bitterness and pain. Cecilia is the quintessential "I don't know how she does it" woman. A devoted mother to three daughters, she runs her household like clockwork, is President of the P&C, owns an extremely successful Tupperware business and is happy in her fifteen-year marriage. Until she discovers a letter in their attic labelled: "To my wife Cecilia, to be opened in the event of my death"... Her husband's secret is a bombshell beyond all imagining with repercussions across the lives of all three women.

My thoughts: Liane Moriarty is an artist.

First of all we have different women that seem to have nothing to do with one another. The book toggles between each of them. Additionally, the prologue is a quick synopsis of Pandora and her box, pointing out that Pandora was never told to not open the box. Why wouldn't she open the box? She had no idea what would be unleashed when she opened the box. The stories are also interspersed with a little bit of history of the Berlin Wall. Which would seem odd except that, when you think about the Berlin Wall, Pandora's Box, and Tupperware. They are all trying to do the same thing; keep what needs to be kept in. But, like all of the above mentioned containments, eventually things leak out and there is no predicting how that will turn out.

The stories have stories within them. The detail of ordinary is wonderful. The characters are consistent and the issues are relevant. Each of them are dealing with a different life event. Each of them will eventually end up tied together in some way. Each of them will be changed forever by the opening of their boxes. The boxes contain the afflictions others have let loose. But they still have deal with the fallout. Like a spilled bottle of sesame oil, the smell lingers and there is nothing to do but deal with it.

I also loved the way Moriarty addresses ego. In every case, ego plays a part. The best advice given is by Tess' mother. "Be more bendy." Nothing is cut and dried. Even when the protagonist knew the moral and ethical or egotistical answer, it changes when it happens to her. Just as it changes when we are in the midst of our own crises. I loved Tess the most. I was drawn to her when her husband and best friend/cousin inform her that they have fallen in love. But they haven't, you know. "You haven't slept together but you want to." Right. Well then, she informs them, as she packs her bags, I just changed the sheets this morning. Go for it. I'm going to my mother's house. So she sets the most tone for their shameful secret. They've fallen in love but want to keep their happy threesome together. Just in a different arrangement. Tess brings it right out into the open and takes away the thrilling secretiveness of it. Change the sheets when you're finished. Stop sneaking around. I loved how she turned the situation on its head.

But all of the characters are interesting. None of them are easily categorized. They are all a little part of us and have too much ego. The development of the story explores each of the lives and circumstances, eventually drawing the women together, along with peripheral characters, and the crashing down of the Berlin Wall.

Very well written. But do be aware of the language. It is harsh at times. Yet appropriately so.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I just read something about this book and was wondering if it was a good read. Now that I've read your review, I'll be picking it up at my library. :)