As you may remember, I reviewed Liane Moriarty’s previous book, What Alice Forgot, and recommended it to everyone I know. So you can imagine my excitement to read her latest book, The Husband’s Secret. I hate to post a negative review, but I learned a hard lesson. Just because you love one book by an author, doesn’t mean you will love every book by that author.
What Alice Forgot, was a sweet, poignant story of a woman trying to figure out what went wrong with her marriage and how to fix it. It followed one family’s story with flashes of memory between 10 years before and the present. The Husband’s Secret tells the story of at least three different families. It starts by telling each families’ story in alternating chapters. It ends with each families’ story intersecting. This method of storytelling has become an increasingly popular way to handle multiple characters and often multiple narrators or points of view, but to the average reader it can be confusing and tedious. Jodi Picoult did this successfully in My Sister’s Keeper. She used it as a way to tell one families story through the perspective of each family member. But I digress…
The cover of the book has this grabber:
“For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick
To be opened only in the event of my death”
Cecilia finds this letter in a box of old tax receipts in the attic. She has no idea that it will blow their serene, suburban lives apart.
The letter is a Pandora’s Box in the sense that evil she had never known was revealed when she opened the letter. Without giving away the story, I will tell you this. When I finished devouring it, (Yes, didn’t like it, but couldn’t.stop.reading) I had to verbally process the story with my husband. As I finished, he was obviously disturbed, like didn’t even want to talk to me anymore disturbed. “Why would you read something like that, and why would you put me through it?”
I didn’t mean to! I felt duped. I loved her other book full of hope and sympathetic characters. This book takes some of your worst nightmares and lets them play out in characters’ lives who I’m not even sure I like very well. The characters make extremely selfish decisions and then pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. In some cases the repercussions of the selfish decisions are treated as an inside joke. In other cases the selfish decisions cause terrible tragedy.
If you spend some time looking at reviews on Amazon, you will see that my opinion is in the minority. But for the sake of mine and my husband’s sanity I will review carefully before reading another of her books. I still enjoy Liane Moriarty’s writing style for the most part and will probably follow her blog.