When Cecilia finds a letter by her (very alive) husband that’s not to be opened until after he has died, she immediately faces a dilemma that we know will end with her reading the contents of that letter. Unfortunately, it will be another 200 pages before the secret contained in that letter is revealed. And therein lies one of the many problems with Liane Moriarty’s newest novel The Husband’s Secret.
As Cecilia struggles with her little dilemma, distracting her from her hyper-organized life, Tess learns of her own husband’s secret. He has fallen in love with Tess’ best friend (and close cousin). Tess lets the two deal with their feelings while she jaunts off to her mother’s house and takes up with an ex-boyfriend. Connor, the ex, is already on Rachel’s radar as the potential murderer of her daughter 30 years previously. Thus all the characters’ lives intertwine in this contrived chick lit thriller.
Yes, The Husband’s Secret, is a chick lit thriller. While not fully intentional by Moriarty, there is a menace lurking in the background of this novel. From the overused references to the Berlin Wall (which start out as an astute reference and slowly turn trite) to the unsolved murder of Rachel’s daughter, it’s clear that something violent will occur in the climax—there are just some 200 pages in the middle to slug through before arriving there.
Moriarty has created two compelling heroines—Cecilia and Tess—trapped in a sea of one-dimensional characters. But as she haphazardly switches perspectives from page to page, it becomes difficult to track which character we are with (especially since she refers to the numerous female characters by their Christian names which all blend together in one’s mind). And, as she juggles these three main plotlines, the story remains simplistic and clichéd. Whereas a novel focused on just one or two of the characters could have been developed into something more complex and fulfilling.
Ultimately this is a distracting enough novel to accompany you at the beach but lacks enough depth to be fully engaging elsewhere.