A while back, a co-worker and I were discussing our shared love of Gillian Flynn. After having read/listened to Gone Girl, I quickly tore through Flynn's other books. My co-worker suggested that if I enjoyed Gillian Flynn, I'd probably also enjoy reading Liane Moriarty's novels. "Liane Moriarty? Great, I'll have to seek out her books!" I said and meant this, but then I got busy and forgot. This process repeated itself a couple more times, and then just recently, I was browsing available audiobooks on my library's e-collection website--and stumbled across The Husband's Secret. I downloaded it, transferred it to my mp3 player, and quickly got hooked. Soon after, I decided to seek out the print version to supplement my listening. Only then did I pay attention to the author's name and... "Oh, hey--is Liane Moriarty the author you've been recommending to me?" "Yup."
The book begins with a short re-telling of the myth of Pandora--pointedly correcting misconceptions by specifying that she was given a jar, not a box, and that it came with absolutely no warnings about the dangers of opening it. One of the main characters, Cecilia Fitzpatrick, faces a Pandora's jar of her own. While searching in the attic for a small piece of the Berlin Wall--for her daughter Esther who has become obsessed with learning all about it--she stumbles across a sealed envelope, which falls out of one of the shoeboxes her husband John-Paul uses to store receipts. The letter is marked: "For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick. To be opened in the event of my death."
Thus begins the story. The action mostly takes place in Sidney, Australia, in a tight-knit community of people with connections to the Catholic School St. Angela's. Cecilia is the school's premiere "school mum," along with being a highly successful Tupperware distributor and mother of three lovely daughters: Isabel, Esther, and Polly (yup--there is a "Polly" AND an "Esther" in the family). Rachel Crowley is the school's part-time secretary. Rachel's adult son has announced that his wife Lauren has accepted a two-year job assignment in New York City, and that will mean two years without Jacob, the young grandson Rachel cares for two days a week. With that change imminent, Rachel finds herself newly obsessed with her late daughter Janey, whose murder back in April of 1984, the month before she would have been 18, has never been solved. Tess O'Leary has impulsively brought her six-year-old son Liam with her from Melbourne, with the excuse of looking after her mother Mary, who has broken her ankle. She makes this decision after the confession of her husband Will and cousin Felicity that they've fallen in love and feel the need to pursue a relationship. Tess enrolls Liam at St. Angela's, and the lives of Cecilia, Rachel, and Tess become entwined.
Cecilia, Rachel, and Tess are the primary narrative points of view, although there are some others interspersed, including occasional moments where an omniscient narrator shares things none of the characters could know. This omniscient narrator appears in a mind-blowing epilogue that I won't spoil--just expect your brain to go "BOOM!" The secret in the letter (of course Cecilia opens and reads it!) creates serious dilemmas. But I won't give this book's secrets away. Just read it--you'll be glad you did.
Reviewing the audible version. I thought the narrator did a wonderful job with the story. He kept the pace of the book fast and interesting. He made our hero’s voice sound sexy yet dangerous. I also liked that he didn't increase his voice one octave higher to sound like a silly girl when giving voice to Melina.
The story in itself focused more on the relationship among all characters than world building. I wish it would have gone deeper into explaining what Melina’s family business was and why it made her doubt Kiernan’s initial interest in her. Although I suppose given the length of the story it provided a practical reason for the hesitancy. Melina and Kiernan had great chemistry and the animosity between their families made a lot of sense once it was explained. I only wish the story would have been longer because the story felt incomplete somehow, like they reached a HFN instead of a HEA.
All in all the plot was well written so I'd definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys PNR.
*** This is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***
Once again I am disappointed due to my own stupidity. For some reason (not reading the blurb, perhaps?), I assumed that this novel was set in the same world as The Girl with All the Gifts. It was not. There is no zombie plague here, if that’s what you were hoping for. But I'm probably the only dummy who didn't read the blurb.
Jess is a heroin addict who is sent to Fellside Prison after an unfortunate event ends with a child’s death. Jess has no recollection of his death but is filled with remorse and guilt. Alex was her friend, her only friend, and she felt protective of him. Now she doesn’t seem to care what happens to her and has given up on living. As she nears death from a self-imposed hunger strike, she sees Alex in ghostly form and realizes there is quite possibly a lot more to the story of his death than she was led to believe.
What follows is a story that I wouldn’t consider horror at all. It’s more a story of prison corruption, evil doers and innocents caught up in a big old mess. Jess struggles to discover the truth about Alex’s death while she also has figure out how to survive prison life. Jess is a great flawed character and the plot, for the most part, was gripping and grueling but I wasn’t really in the mood for this type of story when I picked it up and found myself a bit bored here and there.
The good? Flinty Williams narrates the audio and you can’t go wrong with that accent.
The bad? It’s a little slow and unless you’re into reading about prison politics you may find yourself a little bored too. There are a lot of characters and many are called by their first names and their last names by other characters. I had a hard time keeping them all straight and, in the end, I am not sure I did.
I’m giving it a three because it didn’t grab me but I didn’t despise it either.
Maybe I wasn't quite in the right mood for this one after all, or maybe Skyler was being too OTT and TSTL for my tolerance levels. Skyler's always been reckless but this is the first time I remember fearing for the future since, as a teacher, he's responsible for molding young minds. He really should not be responsible for teenagers. :P
Summer's coming to a close and Skyler's summer job at the local museum is coming to its end as well. Everything's hunky dory until valuable items start going missing. A mysterious death soon follows, and Skyler's on the case (and frankly, I thought it took him too long to cotton on to what was going on, at least in one respect). There's also Keith's old boyfriend back in town, and the ex is up to no good. On top of all that, Skyler's still trying to wrap his head around his parents getting back together, and his various trust issues with his father.
Actually those same trust issues could explain a lot about Skyler's behavior in general - why he's such a control freak and needs to know everything NOW instead of when people are ready to tell him, and why he always assumes the worst case scenarios. That doesn't explain the various members of the SFC going along with his harebrained antics, especially when it involves
breaking into a storage facility and busting their way into a storage locker. If I were Sydney, I'd let them all sit in the tank for a night instead of finding ways to get them off the hook all the time. That's not even mentioning hacking into Keith's phone, which is a far worse offense on a personal level.
But then they wouldn't be the SFC we know and love if they didn't 100% support Skyler. At least Phillip has some sense.
We don't spend as much time with the kids in this book as in previous ones, and there's a lot of focus on the football team when we do, due to Keith signing up a girl to play on the team, and not as a kicker. We also get to learn a bit more about Keith's background, which leads to some in depth discussions about where Skyler and Keith envision their relationship going.
Joel Leslie usually does a decent job on the various accents, but in this book we meet a female football player name Eleigh (sp?). The first time she spoke, based on the accent Leslie was using, I figured she'd be Australian. Nope. Turns out she's Samoan, and I don't think she grew up in Australia. That's just the complete wrong accent to use. I've lived around Samoans my whole life and never once heard any of them use any accent even close to Australian. Just...WTF was that? It was terrible and it grated more and more each time she spoke. Everyone else, he does well and Joel and Rodolfo have always been my standout favorite characters that he voices. They all continue to shine here.
This was still funny and fun, and hopefully some of the growth we see in Skyler in this book will stick.