The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty tells the parallel stories of three women of varying ages, experiencing various family and marital issues. It begins with Cecilia finding a letter from her husband. Written on the front is her name and a note requesting it only be opened in the event of his death. Naturally, she opens it after debating with herself, discovering her husband has been hiding a terrible secret from his past.
This is a book that has been sat on my shelf for a year or two, waiting for me to finally get round to reading it. The premise was intriguing, and anything with the word ‘Secret’ in the title has a natural draw for me, but it was lent to me during a time that I was off reading, so it ended up getting shelved.
I’ve recently begun reading a lot of thriller/mystery novels, and this showed up frequently in recommendations on Goodreads, alongside several books I have recently read and enjoyed. It was described as being very suspenseful, so I decided to finally give it ago. I was unbelievably disappointed.
This book is boring. I’m not sure where the good reviews and descriptions of it being ‘gripping’ and ‘suspenseful’ come from. It wasn’t either of these things. It was boring, predictable and much more family drama/soap opera than suspense thriller.
I’ll start with the characters. The story centres around three women. Cecilia is a middle class, 40-something mother of three, who spends her time being perfectly organised and hosting Tupperware parties. Rachel is a 60-something widow, whose teenage daughter was murdered twenty years ago. Tess discovers her husband is in love with her best friend and leaves Melbourne for Sydney with her young son to live with her mother. Each one of these women are boringly perfect and terribly bitchy. None of them are relatable; perhaps Tess more than the others. The prose reads as if Moriarty thinks all women are like this, and perhaps they are! What do I know, I’m a twenty-something from the UK, maybe I’m too young for this?
Secondly, the so-called ‘suspense’. There is a glimmer of suspense there in the first few chapters, as we wait for Cecilia to finally open the letter. By the time she finally does, however, we’ve pretty much guessed what’s inside. Anticlimax. After that, I was counting the pages to the end and was glad when it came. I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters and very little actually happened after the Big Reveal that we were all expecting.
Tess’s story thread also seemed quite irrelevant to me, although this was the thread I enjoyed the most. Other than a couple of conversations, and being in the same place, she wasn’t connected to the other two characters at all. She was only needed to set up the events for the final few chapters, and even then it could have been explained another way (I don’t want to give any spoilers, so sorry I’m being a bit vague).
On a positive note, this book was very easy to read and I raced through it. The writing is good enough to keep you gripped until the halfway point, after which you’ve invested too much to give up. I imagine the target audience is more 40+; women who have experienced family life and can perhaps empathise with these women more than I can. It has some great reviews elsewhere; I suppose I was just disappointed as I was looking for something a bit more gripping and I feel this book is wrongly categorised.
Would I recommend this? Probably not. There are hundreds of much better books more worthy of your time. That being said, if you find yourself in a position where this book is the only one on offer (stuck in an isolated cabin somewhere with no nearby bookshops and this abandoned on the lonely bookshelf), then I’d say give it a go. You might enjoy it more than I did; you might be closer to the target audience than I am.
6/10 – Alright