Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

published 2013


Tess threw back the covers and got out of bed. She needed to go somewhere; to get out of this house and away from her thoughts. Will. Felicity. Liam. Will. Felicity. Liam. She would get in her mother’s car and drive. She looked down at her pyjama pants and T-shirt. Should she get dressed? She had nothing to wear anyway. She hadn’t brought enough clothes with her. It didn’t matter. She wouldn’t get out of the car. She put on a pair of flat shoes and crept out of the room and down the hallway, her eyes adjusting to the dark. The house was silent. She switched on a lamp in the dining room and left a note for her mother just in case she woke.

She grabbed her wallet, took her mother’s car keys from the hook beside the door and crept out into the soft, sweet night air, breathing in deeply. She drove her mother’s Honda along the Pacific Highway with the windows open and the radio turned off. Sydney’s North Shore was quiet, deserted. A man carrying a briefcase, who must have caught the train home after working late, hurried along the footpath…

‘Like your PJs by the way.’ Connor looked her up and down and grinned.


observations: This is an unexpected book. When I started it I didn’t know if it was a thriller, chicklit, or in the yummy/slummy mummy genre. It isn’t really any of those things, but it is, as advertised, unputdownable. I would defy anyone not to want to continue from the opening set-up: happily-married Cecilia finds a letter from her husband saying on the envelope ‘For my wife… to be opened only in the event of my death.’ So does she open it? Moriarty manages (very convincingly) to keep you waiting through a third of the book before the big reveal, then describes the dramatic consequences. In the meantime she very entertainingly shows us Cecilia’s family, and the lives of various other people, but particularly Tess, above, who fears her marriage is breaking down, and Rachel, an older woman who lost her daughter many years ago. All of them are in Sydney for the duration of the book, living well-off suburban lives – I don’t read many Australian books, so I found this an added bonus, along with unfamiliar words such as spruik and ring-in.

It’s a hugely clever, funny and satirical book, with brilliant observations about the lives of women and their relationships with their mothers and children. It’s always a sign of a good writer when she can throw away great sentences on minor-to-invisible characters: The Kingston brothers who are
in their twenties, still living at home, using their expensive private educations to do never-ending degrees and get drunk in city bars
--- never appear at all.

Later in the book, Tess’s mother will comment on the ‘raggedy old pyjamas’, but I don’t believe that: and if you ever want PJs that will look good at a petrol station, then certainly Hush, home of the picture above, is the place to go.

Cecilia is a Tupperware queen, like the lady in this blog entry


Thanks to Emma (again) for the recommendation.

8 comments:

  1. When I first saw this, I said "oh no, you are not getting me to read another non-mystery book" but this does sound appealing, and it is sort of a mystery? And a female Australian writer, will have to think about this one.

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    1. Yes it is a mystery, but I don't want to give too much away! A really perfect vacation book, because you just want to carry on reading...

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  2. Tracy - Oh, I'm already interested. A book with some mystery, witty observations, solid exploration of relationships and set in Australia? Sign me up.

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    1. It is such a good read - and although not a straightforward detective story, it could definitely fall within the crime genre.

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  3. I enjoyed this book though I figured out what Cecilia's husband's secret was halfway through. In that way, it was a bit of an anti-climax for me, but I really enjoy the author's focus on the details of women's lives.

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    1. Yes, if anything I think I enjoyed the pictures of people's lives more than the plot.

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  4. Col threw back the covers and got out of bed. He put the kettle on, sparked up his lap-top and after a couple of sips of Kenco (oops watch the product placement) checked the blogpost and said......nah, I'll pass

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    1. Clothes in Books, while elegantly sipping her coffee and planning her elaborate outfits for days to come, fainted with surprised. Well, perhaps not....

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