“Falling in love was easy. Anyone could fall. It was holding on that was tricky.”
This was the first book that I ever listened to on CD. I really enjoyed the audiobook experience and I will definitely continue utilizing books on CD as a way to get more reading done during my commute. Caroline Lee’s Australian accent was perfect to capture the setting of this book. Now, to the book itself:
I previously read Moriarty’s Big Little Lies on my flight to London and really enjoyed it. That was a 4-star book for me, but The Husband’s Secret gets a full 5 stars without hesitation. I don’t know if my enjoyment was particularly enhanced by listening to the book, or if it really is this good, but I got so emotional over these characters and what happened to them. I feel like Moriarty really gets people, women in particular, and I could identify bits of myself in each of the three leading ladies:
Cecilia Fitzpatrick is seemingly the perfect wife and mother: Handsome husband, successful Tupperware business, three beautiful daughters, the PTA president, etc. etc. etc. Until she (stupidly) opens a letter, written by her husband, not meant to be opened until his death, and what she discovers inside ensures that her perfect life will never be quite so perfect again.
Tess O’Leary feels like everything is going just fine: Her marriage is happy and secure, if not the most thrilling, and she is growing her advertising business with her husband and her cousin/best friend, until they confess something that turns her world upside down and makes her run home to her mother, where she faces her past and then her future.
Rachel Crowley is a bit older: The nice, sweet, somewhat elderly secretary of the elementary school, a devoted grandma. But the truth is, she’s barely holding it together, still reeling from her daughter’s untimely death in 1984.
The stories of these three women come together in some expected and unexpected ways. Even though I figured out what “the husband’s secret” was very early on in the book, the majority of the book really deals with the aftermath of the secret and its effects on every single character. I’m not always the biggest fan of “chick lit” but in my opinion this book actually is much deeper than how it might appear on the cover: Real, concrete issues that may come up in a marriage, figuring out what it means to be a good parent, being a good child to your aging parents, dealing with serious tragedy… and so much more, are all handled within in what I found to be strong, serious writing – it wasn’t fluffy at all, though Moriarty does infuse humor in all of the right places.
The book does a great job of switching between characters (it’s all in third person, though, which helps it from getting confusing on audio) at just the right moment so that there were times I would have to just sit in my car for a few minutes before going into work or my house or the store to finish up a chapter or two. I’ve read some complaints about the epilogue and how it was too “neat,” but for me it was perfect and a perfectly satisfying way to wrap up my experience with this book (of course at that point I wasn’t even driving anywhere, just sitting in a parking lot making myself late for a bridesmaid dress fitting).
This is the kind of book that, when you put it down and come back to the real world, makes you find yourself staring at random people on the street, thinking about what sort of secrets they’re hiding, what might be going wrong in their lives that even they don’t know about. I’ve been asking Anthony a lot of very odd questions and eventually just had to explain the entire plot to him so that he understood why I was being so weird!! It’s rare that a book can take my somewhat middling expectations for it (I picked this book to listen to instead of The Queen of the Tearling from the library simply because I thought a fantasy book might be a poor choice as a first audiobook since there are often so many characters and settings with complicated names) and blow them out of the park. I think that especially as a new wife I really fell for this book, and I’m probably even younger than the target demographic. Devotees of YA will probably not like this as much, but if you are the kind of person who will try any kind of book, I think (and hope) that you will be pleasantly surprised by The Husband’s Secret.