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Book Review - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (2013)

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Background

I had not heard of this author before and I do not always indulge myself in romance novels but this title grabbed me and I had to find out.  “The Husband’s Secret” reached the top of the NY Times Best Seller List and film rights have already been purchased.  Liane Moriarty is the author of seven novels, including “Three Wishes,” “What Alice Forgot,” “Big Little Lies,” and her latest which is entitled “Truly Madly Guilty” is already on the NY Times Best Seller List.  The author lives in Australia and her novel, “The Husband’s Secret,” takes place there.

The Husband's Secret
Amazon Price: $16.00 $6.95 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 12, 2016)

Introduction

The story is really about three different families whose lives cross paths, mostly due to the fact that their children attended the same school where parents were greatly involved in their education.  Cecelia and John-Paul Fitzpatrick had three daughters who attended St. Angela’s - Esther, Isabel, and Polly - and Cecelia had become a top-selling Tupperware consultant.

Tess, Will, and Felicity

Tess O’Leary had just signed up her son Liam at St. Angela’s School.  He had been bullied at his former school, and the move seemed to be working out.  Tess and Will ran a successful advertising agency with Tess’s cousin Felicity.  Tess and Felicity had been like sisters since they were very young.  Felicity came along on so many occasions with Tess and Will.  The three were always together.  Felicity was highly overweight, but she had recently gone on a strict diet and lost over 50 lbs.  She was actually very attractive now and welcomed the looks she received from men for the first time in her life.

Rachel, the School Secretary

Rachel Crowley, a widow, worked at St. Angela’s as the school secretary.  She had just learned from her son Rob and his wife Lauren that they planned to move from Australia to New York City where Lauren had received a two-year contract for a lucrative position.  Rachel was a big part of the life of Rob and Lauren’s son Jacob, so of course she was heartsick that they would be moving.  Rachel’s only daughter had died under strange circumstances thirty years ago when she was sixteen years old.

Truly Madly Guilty
Amazon Price: $26.99 $11.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 12, 2016)

Cecelia Finds a Letter Addressed to Her

When Cecelia Fitzpatrick’s husband John-Paul was out of town, Cecelia was rummaging in the attic for something when she came across John-Paul’s shoeboxes full of old financial receipts.  They came tumbling down on the floor, and Cecelia glimpsed her name on an envelope.  It said “For my wife, Cecelia.  To be opened only in the event of my death.”  She laughed at first, but then realized that it was a serious matter.  She vowed not to open it, but carried it downstairs with her.  When John-Paul called, she told him she had found the letter, but had not opened it.  He was speechless.

Will and Felicity Confess

Tess, Will, and Felicity were sitting having pizza at the office when Will and Felicity broke the news to Tess.  They had fallen in love, but it had not gone farther than a few kisses.  It had been going on for about six months.  Will thought that possibly they could all live together there for Liam’s sake, which Tess said was out of the question.  Tess’s mother had just called from Sidney that she had broken her ankle, and Tess made the decision that she and Liam would leave Melbourne to care for her mother until she was back on her feet.

Tess Returns to Sidney

It was only fitting that Tess would enroll Liam at St. Angela’s while they were staying in Melbourne.  Tess herself had gone to St. Angela’s and wondered if some of her old teachers were still there.  Trudy McDuff, the principal was solicitous of Liam and told him about the upcoming Easter Egg Hunt and the Pirate Party, both of which he was excited about.  The PE teacher came in while Tess was talking to Rachel Crowley, who really ran the front office. The teacher was Connor Whitby, an old boyfriend of Tess’s who recognized her and went up to her and kissed her.  Later, they ran into each other at the gas station and decided to have coffee together. 

When Cecelia offered to have a Tupperware party, she made a point of asking Tess, as the newcomer, along with Rachel and other members of the Parent and Faculty Staff.

Cecelia Opens the Letter

After wrestling with the idea for a long time, Cecelia opened John-Paul’s letter and told him so.  Her life changed at that moment.  It would never be the same again.  This review will not reveal what was in the letter.  The reader should have the experience of learning the details first-hand.

What Alice Forgot
Amazon Price: $16.00 $5.98 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 12, 2016)

Tess and Connor Whitby

Tess’s friendship with Connor Whitby developed into an affair which she justified for herself since Will and Felicity had given her their startling news.  During their conversations, Connor mentioned to Tess that he had been the last person to see Rachel’s daughter, Janie Crowley, before her unfortunate death 30 years previously.  He was questioned by the police but nothing ever came of it.  There was no evidence that he was with Janie on that day. 

Felicity Visits Tess

Felicity surprised Tess by coming to Sidney to talk to her, mainly to tell Tess that it was over between Will and her.  She was planning to go to England and to be away for a long time.  She apologized to her cousin Tess and said that Will was never really in love with her; it was just a crush.  She was the one who had initiated it.

The Story Comes Together

Many things occurred to bring all of the threads together in this strange, convoluted circumstance.  Rachel almost ran down Connor Whitby in an attempt to hurt the man she believed wrongly was responsible for her daughter’s death.  Instead, her car hit Polly Fitzpatrick, Cecelia and John-Paul’s daughter, injuring her so badly that Polly’s arm needed to be amputated.

There was no happy ending to this story.  There was, however, an explanation of Janie Crowley’s death which, in a small way, reduced the guilt for that sad occurrence.  The lives of three families had been changed forever.  Some small satisfaction was arrived at thirty years later, but everyone’s life went on as before.

 

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