Husband's Secret (Moriarty)

The Husband's Secret 
Liane Moriarty, 2013
Penguin Group USA
416 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780399159343



Summary
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read: My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died. . . .

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—November 1966
Where—Sydney, Australia
Education—M.A., Macquarie University
Currently—lives in Sydney


Liane Moriarty is an Australian author and sister of author Jaclyn Moriarty. In its review of her 2013 novel, The Husband's Secret, she was referred to as "an edgier, more provocative and bolder successor to Maeve Binchy" by Kirkus Reviews.

Moriarty began work in advertising and marketing at a legal publishing company. She then ran her own company for a while before taking work as a freelance advertising copywriter. In 2004, after obtaining a Master's degree at Macquarie University in Sydney her first novel Three Wishes, written as part of the degree, was published.

She is now the author of several other novels, including The Last Anniversary (2006) and What Alice Forgot (2010), The Hypnotist's Love Story (2011), and The Husband's Secret (2013). She is also the author of the Nicola Berry series for children.

Moriarty lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 8/5/2013.)



Book Reviews
Liane Moriarty (What Alice Forgot) is far more than the skillful writer of potboilers.... Amid three intertwined story lines and terrific plot twists, Moriarty presents a nuanced and moving portrait of the meaning of love, both marital and familial, and how life can hinge on a misunderstanding or a decision made in haste. The Husband's Secret is so good, you won't be able to keep it to yourself.
USA Today


A novel that’s perfect for vacation reading: There’s humor, suspense, a circle of appealing women whose dilemma intersect with Cecilia’s and enough food for thought to keep you from feeling empty afterward.
People


The Husband's Secret is a smart, thoughtful read...[a] lip-smacking and intelligently written novel.
Entertainment Weekly


Australian author Moriarty...puts three women in an impossible situation and doesn’t cut them any slack. Cecilia Fitzpatrick...finds a letter from her husband...to be opened only in the event of his death. She opens it anyway, and everything she believed is thrown into doubt.... [A] page-turner...Moriarty’s novel challenges the reader as well as her characters, but in the best possible way.
Publishers Weekly


A secret from her husband's past is about to bring [Celia's] perfectly sculpted world crumbling down.... Moriarty shows how Cecilia struggles to live her life as she did before the secret burdened her marriage—like those Berliners who attempted normalcy after the infamous wall went up/came down.... Verdict: Moriarty examines the ease with which darkness can spread into relationships...leaving the reader wondering what will happen next. —Brooke Bolton, North Manchester P.L., IN
Library Journal


At first, this reviewer wanted to warn readers not to be taken in by the light tone of Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret. On second thought, maybe readers should let this rather crafty novelist's deceptive breeziness and humor sweep them along. It makes the shocks just that much more deliciously nasty, including the gob-smacking twist in the epilogue.
Bookpage


There are more than enough secrets to go around in the intertwining lives of three women connected to a Catholic elementary school in Sidney.... As the women confront the past and make hard decisions about their futures...their fates collide in unexpected ways. Moriarty may be an edgier, more provocative and bolder successor to Maeve Binchy. There is real darkness here, but it is offset by the author's natural wit—she weaves in the Pandora myth and a history of the Berlin Wall—and irrepressible goodwill toward her characters.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. When Cecilia finds the letter addressed to her from her husband, "To be opened only in the event of my death," she is tormented by the ethics of opening it. Do you agree with her ultimate decision? What would you have done?

2. Consider the title The Husband's Secret. Several characters in the book have secrets they hold on to that they eventually reveal. Felicity and Will share the secret of their affair to Tess; John-Paul guards his secret from Cecilia until he is forced to admit it. What are the ramifications of their secrets? Is secrecy is ever warranted and justifiable?

3. Tess has suffered her whole life from crippling social anxiety. How has this made everyday situations a challenge for her? Why has she never confronted her problem? Why doesn't she tell anyone about it?

4. The Berlin Wall is referred to throughout the novel as Esther works on her school project. And in fact, we learn that Cecilia met John-Paul on the day the Wall finally came down. What does the Wall signify in the book?

5. Grief is a major theme in the novel, and many of the characters have suffered as a result of their losses. How has grief affected Rachel? Rob? Tess? John-Paul? How do they each cope? In what ways have their lives have been irrevocably altered as a result of their grieving? Do you think people can fully stop grieving and move on with their lives?

6. The concept of guilt also plays a major role in the novel. Rachel feels that because of a brief flirtation with Toby Murphy she was absent when Janie died. John-Paul continues to sacrifice things that he loves, out of guilt for what he did to Janie. It seems that these characters have never been able to recover from the feelings of guilt caused by their actions. Yet at the same time, other characters in the book do not appear to feel guilt in the same way. Consider Felicity and Will. Do they have remorse for their affair? And does Tess regret her fling with Connor? What determines how guilty one feels-is it the situation, or is it determined by the individual's character?

7. Tess and Felicity have a history of making snide comments about other people. Tess realizes this only once she is out of the comfort zone she's shared with Felicity for so many years. How has such negative energy affected her relationships with others? Do you think she and Felicity are actually cruel, or is there another reason for their unkind behavior?

8. Ethics and morals are important themes in the book. Discuss how John-Paul, Cecilia, Tess, Will, and Rachel have each done something they would not have thought possible. Have you ever acted in a way that seems entirely out of character? How did you feel? Does love cause people to do things they wouldn't normally do?

9. Consider the notion of betrayal in this book. Which characters have betrayed someone they love? Are their acts of betrayal premeditated, or are they unplanned decisions that become regrettable actions? When one person betrays another, can that person be forgiven? Or is the damage irreparable?

10. The novel is narrated in third-person and in past tense. Given the intense focus on three women, why did the author choose to tell the story from this point of view? How does this perspective add a sense of mystery and foreboding?

11. Cecilia has been married to John-Paul for fifteen years and has three children with him. Until she opens his letter, she seems to trust him and believe him to be the wonderful husband and father she's always thought him to be. But when she discovers his terrible, sinful secret, she begins to question him. How well can one know one's spouse? Is it possible to ever completely know another person?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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