The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. I read it in print last year and then decided to re-read it on audio. Caroline Lee provides the wonderful narration for this updated tale of Pandora and her famous choice. The three major characters in this book - Cecilia, Tess and Rachel - all have choices to make, big choices. Each woman is presented with an impossible situation and one wonders - what would you do?
The Husband's Secret begins with The Berlin Wall. No, it's not set in Germany. Australia is our place to be - a little in Melbourne and a lot in Sydney. However, Cecilia Fitzpatrick is our first character. She discovers a letter, written by her husband and addressed to her, in the attic as she is looking for a piece of The Berlin Wall. As a college student, Cecilia visited Germany and came home with what she was told was a bit of that structure. Her daughter, Esther, is obsessed with The Berlin Wall and Cecilia promised to find the souvenir. The letter that Cecilia stumbles across is meant to be 'opened after my death'. Well, John-Paul Fitzpatrick is not dead, but he is on a business trip to America. What could it possibly say? And more importantly, should she open it?
Meanwhile, our attention turns to Tess, who lives in Melbourne, but who grew up in Sydney. She's sitting at the conference table in the office that she, her husband, Will, and her cousin, Felicity, share, just as they share their business. Tess and Will have one son, Liam, the light of their lives. Will and Felicity have just told Tess that they are so, so sorry - so, so sorry, but....they've fallen in love with each other. It just happened. It's no one's fault. And they are so, so sorry.
Lastly, there is Rachel, who has a son and a daughter-in-law and a grandson, Jacob. Rachel loves being a grandmother so very much. Years ago, Rachel's daughter, Janie, age 17, was murdered. The person who killed Janie was never caught and Rachel has spent all these years missing Janie and thinking about what Janie would be like and hating whoever it was who took her life. Her husband, Ed, died suddenly and now Jacob is her greatest joy. And what were her son and daughter-in-law telling her? They were moving - leaving - taking a job in New York??? Rachel had thought they were going to tell her that they were having another baby. Instead - well, no.
Each of these women is a distinct character and has her own personality, life, and trials. They will come together at the school where Rachel works, where Cecilia's children attend and where she is the 'queen bee' of the parents, and where Tess retreats and enrolls her son when she visits her mother. Their stories will intertwine and connect and decisions are made - both good and bad ones. And there are consequences. And secrets are revealed. Not everything will turn out the way you might imagine. But do remember what was left when all the bad things came out of Pandora's box -- hope remained.
I loved the way this story was told. Loved the glimpses we got into the thought processes of all these women. And the narration was helpful in that regard - a sort of stream of consciousness of Cecilia, Tess and Rachel. It made me laugh more than once. But, don't think that all was sweetness and light. It wasn't. There were serious issues as well and frustrations and upsets. I guess you could call this a domestic mystery or maybe a suburban mystery. It was pretty snarky at times and would probably make any mother nod her head now and then. We've all been there. For me, this was definitely a two-thumbs up read.
I've also read Big Little Lies (loved it) and there was a similarity in the primary school setting with competitive mothers and wry humor. Plus, there were underlying very serious issues. I need to read more books by this author. If you've read others, which would you suggest I pick up next?