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.