Tuesday 7 January 2014

Book 1 Review: The Husband's Secret- Liane Moriarty

"Not just a bunch of middle aged women talking
about their husbands"

My first book of my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge is The Husband's Secret By Liane Moriarty. The novel tracks the impact of one tragic instant through the lives of three families irrevocably tied together from that moment on. In the novel, the protagonist Celia Fitzpatrick’s understanding of her comfortable and structured world is thrown into turmoil when she discovers a letter written from her husband to be opened upon his death. The letter unearths a horrible secret from his past which not only affects Celia’s family, but two other families from their small Sydney Catholic school community. It has been an easy novel to start my book reviews with and was overall an enjoyable, but not overly challenging read.

At the beginning of this novel I wasn’t glued to every word and wasn't desperate to read on. However Moriarty’s storytelling has a way of drawing you in. I was unimpressed and skeptical even after the big reveal of the letter (I called it a holiday read in my last post)
yet by the end I was easily caught up as the pace of the novel sped towards a much anticipated climax.

At the beginning, the novel mostly felt like a bunch of middle aged women sitting around talking about their husbands and children.

(Yep, this is what I imagined)

However I soon realised this novel is about much more. It raises serious questions of whether justice for past crimes can ever be achieved. The novel makes you question if one person’s life can be equal to that of another and whether a lifetime of good deeds ever absolve one from the crimes of the past. It shows how hard it is to truly know those you are closest to and how easily the sense of stability and normality in our lives can disintegrate. 

On a less serious note, this novel was set in Sydney’s North, my hometown. It is quite a refreshing change to read about a character rushing down a street that I drive down daily.

(This one to be precise)

Great novels can transport you anywhere in the world with a few carefully selected adjectives. It is a different experience entirely being transported by Moriarty, only ten minutes up the road.
This made me think. I realised that novels don’t have to be placed in historically significant times or exotic locations to make an impact. In fact I would contend it is harder to impress an audience when your novel is centered on the everyday and the mundane; the picking up and dropping off of children, the amount of butter left in your fridge, the Easter Hat Parade at the local school. Moriarty does an excellent job of showing how emotional turmoil and life changing revelations occur in everyday life, in the least glamorous of places and that people have to cope with these changes all while trying to maintain a semblance of normality.  

Good bits
It was a good reminder that I should read more Australian literature. I’ll be making sure to include more Australian books in my reading list this year.

The plot is interesting and unexpected. As it progresses Moriarty builds a palpable sense of foreboding as the plot progresses as you feel that sooner or later past crimes must be paid for.

It had an epilogue! Not many serious novels have epilogues, perhaps because its not cool among writer folk. It was nice to have a more solid sense of conclusion that is often missing from novels what leave you guessing at the end.

Not so good bits
I felt like I would have enjoyed this more if I was a mother, or perhaps a Catholic. Some of the biggest themes in the novel centre on children and the concept of ‘sin’. Having neither children nor ever sinned I couldn’t possibly relate.

Thanks Clueless

Joking aside it did feel like the book was tailored to a specific audience that I wasn't a part of and although this feeling abated as the novel progressed, it never quite went away.

The novel was not life changing for me. It didn’t force me to open my eyes to anything new or unexpected. I did end up liking the novel more than I expected to but overall it felt a bit ‘soft’ for me.
It had an epilogue. Yeah I did say it was one of the good bits but it did again leave me feeling the ending was a bit ‘soft’, as if the author wanted to give us all a happy ending rather than a kick in the guts to finish. Perhaps a kick in the guts is what all the cool writers are doing these days.

Quotes that made me think
"What can you say or do to make up for a horrible incident? The words ‘I’m sorry’ felt like an insult. You said ‘I’m sorry’ when you bumped against someone’s supermarket trolley. There needed to be bigger words."

Three and a Half out of Five well-buttered hot cross buns 

The next book
Book number two will be 'Room' by Emma Donoghue as suggested by Cat. It has been sitting ignored halfway down the list of books on my Kindle for about a year now so time to get reading! 

Like the sound of the book? Buy it here on Amazon or at your local bookstore. 

Please let me know what you thought of my review below please. Its my first time doing this since a year five book report so I am feeling rusty!  Agree with me? Think I'm spouting a load of rubbish? Let me know :)


  1. "Having neither children nor ever sinned I couldn’t possibly relate." hahaha

    I think you'll need a fun, escapist read after this one and Room back to back, by the sound of this review.

    1. It really wasn't that challenging a read, certainly very chick-lit so the Room will be great after this! Thanks for the suggestion- got you a mention haha

  2. What a great review - told me everything I need to know about the book without giving it all away. That said, the book isn't not my cup of tea and I can see how if you don't have kids it would be hard to relate to the story. The fun aspect of having it set in hometown makes it a cool read. I like reading stories set in my hometown - neat to follow the path of the characters.

    1. Hi Robin- I certainly realised how difficult it is to summarise a book without giving it all away and without just using the description on the back cover! Although the novel was well written it wasn't my cup of tea either, didn't really challenge me or open my eyes to anything new or a different perspective. Hoping the next book does!

  3. Thanks for giving me the heads about your review of The Husband's Secret. I am going to follow your reviews and add you to my blog roll. Am hoping you might also find LindyLouMac's Book Reviews of interest as well. :)

    1. Thanks LindyLou, will check out your blog! Hope you enjoy my reviews :)

  4. Great review. I'm in America and love to read books set in other countries, but have to admit the opposite seasons kept me a little off kilter! Easter in the Fall/Autumn?! I'm used to a Spring Easter. That being said, I think you hit the review magnificently. This wasn't a life changing novel, but it was an interesting plot. Now I'm off to see what you thought of Room.

    1. Yes it is a bit strange that Easter has all the images of baby animals and bunnies and chicks associated with spring yet for us in Australia it is Autumn! Thanks for your comment, hope you like the review of Room- It is a truly incredible book, unlike The Husband's Secret.

  5. I guess I've never really thought about how much more difficult it must be to write about present times--that's a good point and I think Moriarty does a beautiful job at it (she had my attention the entire time). I actually really enjoyed the book and (literally) gasped when I read Jean-Paul's letter! Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future :D

    1. I also hadn't really thought about the difficulties in making ordinary situations sound interesting until I read and reviewed this novel! Thanks for reading my review & for your comment :)