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The Husband’s Secret

Liane Moriarty

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If you found a letter from your still very much alive husband that said ‘to be opened in the event of my death’ what would you do?

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Book Synopsis

What would you do if you found a letter from your husband marked ‘To be opened in the event of my death’? Especially if he was still alive? Would you open it? That’s the dilemma faced by Cecilia, devoted mother, successful businesswoman, and, she thought, blissfully married. Her decision changes her humdrum life forever. A stunning and riveting book.


Richard's Review

Judy begs the question: would you open an envelope with those words written on it? Of course you would! But you'd be wise to spend some time preparing for many eventualities beforehand. Cecilia imagines the contents to be a reference to the birth of her first child, fifteen years earlier; a sentimental missive from the past to the future.

quotea bold and daring novelquote

Fond hope.

But The Husband's Secret is not just Cecilia's story. We discover those of Tess and Rachel too. As the novel begins, the connections between all three women seem to us tenuous at best, but the husband's secret - John-Paul's secret - is going to have a transformative effect on each and every one of them.

Cecilia's pleasant, well-ordered universe implodes when her husband comes home unexpectedly early from a business trip.

Tess is thunderstruck when her own husband tells her he has fallen inextricably in love with Felicity. Felicity just happens to be Tess's best friend. Oh, and her cousin. And just to convert the whole horrible situation into a perfect storm, the two women are business partners as well. Nice.

Rachel has been in the grip of a nightmare for more than twenty years, since her teenage daughter was murdered. With her son and his wife moving to New York, a newly-bereft Rachel becomes obsessed with the man she suspects killed her daughter. He teaches at the school where she works.

What a canvas on which to paint this story. The Husband's Secret is a bold and daring novel, layered and morally challenging. It is a story about forks in the road; moments of decision; right and wrong.

And it's a quiet triumph for Liane Moriarty.

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Judy's Review

An absolutely compelling expedition through the moral maze that every one of us enters in childhood and remains trapped in for the rest of our lives.

quoteher best yetquote

Liane Moriarty's enthralling story begins with a simple moral conundrum which we, the readers, at once realise is going to have far-reaching consequences, depending on the decision that is made to resolve it.

Cecilia has been married to Jon-Paul for 15 years. Their lives are busy, happy, and fulfilled. They have three clever, attractive daughters. Then a cloud appears on the horizon of their blue-sky world; a cloud no bigger than a man's hand. But it is the presage of a potentially terrible, destructive storm.

It takes the form of an envelope Cecilia finds nestling among a pile of ancient tax documents. It is dated just after the birth of the couple's first child, and the envelope bears the simple inscription:

For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick. To be opened only in the event of my death.

Choices, choices, choices. That is what this enthralling story is all about. It is Liane Moriarty's fifth adult fiction novel and judging by readers' reviews posted on the internet, it may be her best yet (recent books include What Alice Forgot and The Hypnotist's Love Story).

We loved it.

  • Katrina

    A fantastic, thought-provoking novel which had me on tenterhooks throughout. I was captivated by the stories of the three women and the shocking secret that ties them all together. Highly recommended – but make sure you have plenty of time put aside as you won’t want to put it down!

  • Susan

    I was really looking forward to this book after loving What Alice Forgot. I was disappointed as it was not as good as I thought it would be. An ok read but not as gripping as it could have been. The back and forward between past and present disrupted the flow of the book.

  • Liane Moriarty

    Hello everyone, I was honoured and deliriously happy to hear that The Husband’s Secret was chosen for the Richard and Judy Book Club this Autumn. Thank you so very much for your support.

  • Fiona

    I have just finished this book and I loved it! Very easy to read, the author draws you into the lives of the characters and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

  • Deb

    Loved this book. Could not put it down. An excellent read.

  • Nicole Moss

    I became a big fan of Liane Moriarty’s novels after reading “The
    Hypnotist’s Love Story”; she writes compellingly and realistically of
    modern marriage, betrayal, joy and heartbreak. So I was thrilled to have
    the opportunity to review her latest, “The Husband’s Secret”, which I
    thoroughly enjoyed.

    There are three main characters, Cecilia,
    Rachel and Tess, who are all experiencing upheavals in their lives.
    Moriarty excels at describing how the quotidian details of one’s life
    can change due to the “before and after” of cataclysmic events. She
    deftly uses both Tupperware and the Berlin Wall as metaphors for sealing
    in and keeping out.

    The novel is about secrets, and I don’t want
    to reveal any of them because Moriarty does it so brilliantly in the
    novel. Basically we are asked, as observers, to contemplate how a person
    can live with a huge and terrible, secret. And how can you live knowing
    someone else’s huge and terrible secret? Human existence is complicated
    and messy and far from black and white/good and bad. Humans make
    strange and often irrational choices. Are they always indefensible?
    These are the kinds of things that Moriarty is so good at dissecting for
    her readers, and why we keep coming back for more.

    revealing anything, I want to say a word about the ending. I expect some
    readers are going to have a problem with the climax and the denouement.
    I thought about it for a while after finishing the book and before
    sitting down to write this review, and I decided that I’m fine with it. I
    think Moriarty made the right writing and plot choices here and it
    worked for me. I highly recommend this novel.


  • Kerry Young

    This was absolutely brilliant; I went straight on to read ‘What Alice Forgot’ which was also brilliant. Both fantastic concepts and fabulous writing style. Thanks

  • SB

    I was recomended this book by a friend ….but not surprised it’s in the R&J BC, as they have an amazing skill of picking amazing reads. A very clever story line, moving and an interesting ending, which sparks lots of thoughts of how we live our life, karma and intertwined relationships

  • Millbank reader

    I have just finished the Husbands Secret. It was a fantastic book. It was a book once I started reading I had to read it until the book was finished. I really enjoyed the way that you introduced all the people who featured all the way through the book. It was good to see how their lives all came in contact with one another and the events that brought them together.It was a book that kept you in suspense and eager to find out what would happen. It is so easy to imagine someone keeping a secret like that for all those years to be found out the way that it was. I especially enjoyed the what IF part. As that was very clever and all the events could have been so very different and there could have been so many different outcomes . Thank you for such a brilliant book and can not wait to read another of your books.