As I mentioned in my previous post, I picked up The Husband’s Secret right after finishing The Light Between Oceans. I needed something lighter and more contemporary in order to get rid of the sadness that I felt.

Who better than Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies (a book I recently read, loved, and forgot to review) and who I consider a master of fun murder mysteries (yes, I meant fun) to get me out of my funk? I was in for a surprise.

Just as in Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret centers around three main characters. Cecilia Fitzpatrick is the 24/7 mom whose perfect life with a loving husband and three daughters is as neat and organized as the Tupperware that she sells, making her the source of unwarranted guilt for the normal 7-11 moms who feel that they’re just not doing enough.

Tess O’Leary gets the shock of her life when her husband (Will) and cousin (Felicity) tell her that they’ve fallen in love. The three of them are business partners and practically live together since they work from the O’Leary home. Tess and Felicity are more like sisters than cousins. They are the daughters of twin sisters and have grown up together.

Rachel Crowley is a school secretary in her 60’s whose daughter Janie’s murder is still unsolved thirty years later, although she’s convinced that the current PE teacher (Connor Whitby) is the murderer. The three interact at St. Angela’s Primary School where Cecilia’s daughters attend and where Tess enrolls her son after arriving in Sydney, running away from her husband, her cousin and their guilt-ridden unconsummated affair.

I’m happy to report that this book succeeded in getting me out of the depressed mood in which I was wallowing after finishing The Light Between Oceans. However, ironically, it plunged me into the same thoughts that I was trying to avoid about the frequent injustices in life, how sometimes the best choice is the least worst one, how good people make bad decisions that haunt them for a lifetime, and other questions/issues like:

– Do we really ever know our loved ones?

– We can’t really protect our children from harm, even death, especially as they grow into adolescence and away from us.

– There is no closure for a parent who loses a child. There are only bad days and worse ones. Good days come years later, if at all.

– We are all interrelated and our actions affect too many lives, some close to us and others of whom we’re not even aware.

I was especially affected by the book’s epilogue, where Moriarty gives us glimpses of both future and past events, all related to key moments throughout the novel. So much of life is chance and timing.

I have to say that I love Moriarty’s writing. She succeeds in combining a biting wit with a whole lot of humanity and compassion for her characters. She is a keen observer of  human behavior, especially of the secrets and lies that we tell ourselves and each other as part of the human condition.

I have never read a writer who packs so many thought-provoking hard truths, in such a light breezy package. Although not quite fitting, I’m reminded of the “iron fist in a velvet glove” analogy, or as USA Today put it, “Reading one [of Liane Moriarty’s novels] is a bit like drinking a pink cosmo laced with arsenic…” Yes, and dying to read more.

I say, bottoms up.