Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty - A Good (not excellent) Read

I don't want the heading to mislead you.  I enjoyed this book.  I gave it a 3/4.  It is very well-written (examples to follow) and held my interest.  But even though there were a number of primary characters, none of them grabbed me.  I had one brief moment on page 376 (out of 394) that caused a small tear-up.  Other than that, nada.  Now, lest you think that I have to be bawling in order to love a book, I say nay to that (despite much empirical evidence to the contrary).  7 of my top 12 all-time came with no waterworks.  To wit:

Pillars of the Earth
Winter of the World
My Losing Season
The Source
Lonesome Dove

See, I can love a book without crying.  The Husband's Secret didn't make me cry AND I wasn't emotionally connected to the characters.  But that doesn't mean I didn't like it.  I did.  Here's a synopsis from Goodreads:

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

There are many things in this book that I liked.  I really liked how she started by having the 1st 3 chapters all center on different characters.  It reminded me of 2 of my favorite books:  Strangers (1986), by Dean Koontz, and The Plot (1967), by Irving Wallace.  Both of those books took much longer than this one for the main characters to come together.  But I did flash on those 2.

Another thing I liked was some of her comparisons.  Here are 2 that Liane gave:

1.  Describing her connection with her adult son - "By then, she and Rob had developed a relationship  that was perfectly nice, but it was like that dreadful carob chocolate.  As soon as you tasted it, you knew that it was just a wrong, sad imitation."
2.  Describing her social anxiety - "She'd made a few friends on the outskirts of the inner social circle, but she couldn't do it again.  Not now.  She didn't have the strength.  It was like someone had cheerfully suggested she run a marathon when she's just dragged herself out of bed after suffering from the flu."

Nice writing, huh?

I liked how she handled a serious accident late in the book.  Instead of skipping around to another character for the next chapter, which is how the whole book is structured, she went right into the results of the accident.  I thought that was a smart decision.

I liked that she surprised me in several spots.  This was especially true of a confession that comes a little before the half-way mark.  Overall, it was certainly less predictable than many books I've read.

And I liked that she came up with a very unique concept.  As you can see from the Goodreads blurb, it basically tells the story of how one secret can affect so many lives.  It takes good writing to make that work.  And she pulled it off.

But there were a couple of things I didn't much like.  One was that I got a little tired of some of the characters going through the same angst over and over.  It was a little bit same-old, same-old for me.  And I thought the epilogue was a bit dumb - but just a bit. Most importantly, as mentioned above (and ad nauseum throughout my blog posts), I didn't care enough about any of the characters.

The positives definitely outweighed the negatives.  The book came highly recommended to me, and I think I might have created unrealistic expectations for myself.  But for all of that, it was still a solid read, and I would recommend it.


  1. Connecting with at least one character is an important key to enjoying a book I think.

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    1. It certainly matters to me. I'm not sure it does to everybody.

  2. I have to wait to read the review because I'm listening to this book right now. I'll come back!

    1. I'll be interested in your evaluation.

  3. I finished! First, I loved it! Like you, I didn't totally connect with any of the characters. I think part of that is because they were so honestly human. They said (in introspection of course) all the real stuff that most of us feel but would never say aloud because people would think we were absolutely terrible. I love your quotes! And I've got one which exemplifies what I mean about the things we'd never say aloud. This is one describing the character's mothering technique (from Cecelia): She was a good mother. But she was a better mother when someone else was watching. It might not be exact, but you get the gist. Though I didn't connect with the characters, this was a page-turner for me. I had to find out what happened, both in the past and the consequences of the secret. I even liked the epilogue! So like you, I would recommend the book. I probably liked it a little better than you did.

  4. I think you did. But I do agree with you.

  5. I loved this one, but probably connected a bit more with the characters than you did? I felt like I really 'got' Cecelia. I'm glad you liked it! Every book can't be a favorite :)

  6. Jasmine agreed with you. It's a bit unfortunate for us bloggers, but a 3 out of 4 is darn good. But when you have a string of 3.5's and 4.0's, it makes a 3 look bad. Not so. I'm glad you liked this one so much.