Wednesday, December 16, 2015

THE HUSBAND'S SECRET by Liane Moriarty

In Australia, Easter is in the fall.  It also seems to be a time of upheaval for three women there.  Cecelia discovers in the attic an envelope addressed to her that she is to open after her husband’s death.  He is very much alive and out of town, and Cecelia’s fingers are twitching to break the seal.  Tess finds that her husband Will and cousin Felicity are in love with each other.  In fact, Tess and Felicity are so close that Will and Felicity suggest that Felicity just move in with Will and Tess and their son Liam.  Duly appalled by this notion, Tess, with Liam in tow, takes off for her mom’s house, where she reignites a passion for an old flame, Connor Whitby.  Finally, we have Rachel, whose son and daughter-in-law plan to move to NYC, taking Rachel’s beloved grandson Jacob with them.  Rachel’s daughter Janie was murdered when Janie was a teenager, and Jacob is just about the only bright spot in Rachel’s lonely life.  Obviously, these three women’s lives are going to collide sooner or later.  This novel is very readable with lots of tension, although I have to say that I guessed the contents of the mysterious letter.  To me, the most obvious theme in the novel is that of instant karma, or “what goes around comes around.”  Vengeance also plays a role, but, as is the case in real life, it sometimes causes collateral damage.  Even so, none of the evildoers escape scot-free; they suffer unexpected consequences.  The subject matter here is quite serious—betrayal, grief, guilt.  However, some of the characters’ issues, such as Tess’s “social anxiety,” seem superfluous to the story.  I have mixed feelings about the epilogue, which has some staggering revelations and what-if scenarios.  I felt that the author had tied up all the loose ends pretty neatly, but the epilogue just emphasizes how our lives hinge on chance events that can result in relentless suffering or exceedingly good fortune.

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