The title of Moriarty's book provides a powerful hook. It lures the reader to venture inside to see what that secret might be. The usual thoughts run through the book peruser's mind - an affair, a child somewhere, or the absconding of a large amount of money. They could all be ones to entice the purchase. Set in Australia, the novel takes place the week before Easter and intertwines the lives of three women and their families.
Cecelia Fitzpatrick seems to have the perfect life. Her husband, Jean-Paul, is a successful business man, her three daughters are charming and smart, and she is the epitome of organization and time management, and a successful purveyor of Tupperware. Her daughter, Esther, has a fascination with history and dives into diverse subjects fully. Last month it was the Titanic disaster and this month it is the Berlin Wall. Cecelia has been to the Wall and goes to the attic to find the piece that she brought home as a souvenir. It is there she discovers the letter that is only to be opened on the death of her husband Jean-Paul. The dilemma that presents itself is obvious. Should she open it, ignore it, confront her husband, or destroy it. Nearly a third of the way through the book, the resolve to open it is manifested and her life becomes all the more complicated and thrown into turmoil.
Then there is Tess O'Leary who with her husband Will and cousin Felicity operate an advertising agency. Imagine the hurt and anger she feels when Will and Felicity meet with her to announce their love for each other, tho until this point it has been unconsummated. How will this affect their son Liam. It's a situation that is just incomprehensible and given that her mother has just broken her ankle, she takes Liam and travels from Melbourne to Sydney to be with her.
Finally, there is Rachel Crowley whose daughter Janie was murdered when she was a teenager and whose assailant has never been apprehended. Rachel has led a sad life since that time and her predicament of loss is about to increase when her son Rob and his wife Lauren reveal their plans to move to New York City to help further Lauren's career. She will lose her son and her beloved grandson, nearly like losing Janie 27 years ago.
Moriarty weaves the stories together masterfully. Her use of flashback and point of view enhance the plot and the readers' involvement in it. The character development is well crafted and the insight into each person is crystal clear. Each has a dilemma of some sort and to peer into their hearts and souls gives so much meaning to the complexity of their characterization. The resolutions to the problems are not easily or one dimensional and they are revealed in a deliberately slowed unveiling. The afterword is a welcomed addition and adds further insight into the characters' lives.
The Husband's Secret is a perfect book for book club discussion. As each character wrestles with their life situation and the decisions that must be made, the opportunity for dialogue whether concurring or differing presents itself. Perhaps it should have been titled The Husbands' Secret. Put this on the "Must Read" shelf.