Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Life of Bon Book Club: January

This year, I have decided to take part in the majority of the Book Club being hosted by Bonnie
at The Life of Bon and so today I'm sharing my thoughts on January's book...
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty.
Good Reads description
"My Darling Cecilia
If you're reading this, then I've died . . .

"Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains
his deepest, darkest secret - something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but 
the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very 
much alive. 

"Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all - she's an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small 
community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is
about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or one another - but
they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's devastating secret."

My (somewhat spoiler-free) Review:
I'd been wanting to read this book for a while and seeing it was one of the first books on Bonnie's list was one of the main reasons I decided to join in with her online Book Club. I must admit, I found the first few chapters a little hard to follow and almost slow. Chapter One is from the point of view of Cecilia, Chapter Two from the POV of Tess and Chapter Three from the POV of Rachel; by the end of the book, the transition between characters and POVs was easy to follow but at the beginning I found it pretty difficult, especially when I had put the book down for a day and picked it up again.

The fact that each chapter was from the POV of a different character to the one before meant that when we leave Cecilia reading the letter and discovering the secret at the end of Chapter 14, I couldn't carry on with the next chapter as it was from Tess' POV. I had to skip ahead to Chapter 18 to find out what the secret was and wow, I did not imagine it was that! I obviously went back and continued to read from Chapter 15 once I knew what the 'secret' was (I hate secrets!).

I really started to enjoy the book when we discovered the connection between the three ladies (pg. 89). This is for me when the book became 'unputdownable' (Sophie Hannah). I finished this book on a Sunday night. A night when I had gone to bed at 10pm with the intention of just reading for an hour. It was midnight when I finally turned off the light. I had begun to read from Chapter 38 (pg. 271) and, I guess, because the book only had 56 short chapters (402 pages) I could not stop reading. The climax was coming and I wanted needed to know what happened.

I attempted to sleep, feeling a little sad that the book was over - read here about my issues with grieving the loss of characters from my life - but loving the epilogue. However, when I woke the next day, I had somehow, overnight, decided that I hated the epilogue, that it was the worst part of the book. Without spoiling anything, the epilogue tells us what would have happened to the characters had the event/secret never happened. Why write that? Life isn't like that. We don't know what would have happened to us and our lives if we'd chosen another option, walked another path, so why would the author tell us about the 'what ifs' for these characters?! I would go as far to say that by the morning, I had a bad taste in my mouth thanks to the epilogue.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others; oh and for the record, I totally would have opened the letter, and WAY before Cecilia did! I'd have opened it when I first came across it not imagining anything that bad could possibly be inside!

Book club discussion questions *contains spoilers*:
+ The book is told from the viewpoint of three women. Which women did you like the most and why? Whom did you dislike the most and why?
Ohhh, what a good question. I think I liked Tess the least - I'm not sure I'd jump straight into bed with an ex if I found out that my husband had fallen in love with  my sister-like cousin. To be honest, Tess' entire story didn't feel right to me. At the end, when Tess and Will 'make love' and both cry - what is that about?! I cannot understand 'settling' for someone. Will was obviously in love with Tess' cousin, Felicity, and Tess thought she was falling in love with Connor, so I cannot understand 'settling'. We only get one life, as shown throughout the book with extracts from/about Janie, so why would you spend the majority of your life unhappy with a man/woman you don't really love?! However, I think I understand why Tess (as a character) did 'settle' - she was a child of divorce herself. As I am not one, I can't understand what it's like to have your parents live separate lives. It was obvious that Liam (her son) was the motivation behind staying with Will (Liam's father). As well as not being a child of divorce, I'm also not a mother, so I don't know what it is like to put your child first. However, I also think children pick up on their parents' feelings so surely Liam and the second baby would have known that not all was right/well in their parents' marriage.

I think the loneliness of Rachel's life without her daughter and husband, and the feelings of being far removed from her son's life, came across beautifully and I feel as equally sorry for her as I do Cecilia. They're both innocent women whose lives are forever changed by the actions of John-Paul. I think the author barely scratched the surface of Rachel's story - I think there was a lot of unexplored potential there.

+ What would you have done if you had found out the secret that Celia did? Did you agree with the way she handled it?  What is the 'right' thing to do in a situation like that?
I would hate to be in Cecilia's position. How do you deal with that?! Whatever you do, you're screwed! If you tell his secret and punish him, you also lose him as a husband and your children lose their father. If you don't tell and keep his secret, you feel sick every time you think of someone doing what he did to Janie to one of your daughters and you begin to hate him. Whichever way you look at it, for Cecilia, the man she married is gone the second she reads the letter. I don't think there is a right thing to do in this situation; either way, people get hurt. I think if Polly hadn't been hurt by Rachel, Cecilia would have kept John-Paul's secret but I'm not certain their marriage would have survived.

+ Do you believe the bike accident was adequate 'penance' for what John Paul had done?
No. I've thought about this a lot and no I don't. It didn't happen to John-Paul; it happened to his daughter, Polly.
An innocent girl who has to suffer because of something her father did when he was young. 

Bonnie's book for February is I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai if you want to join in, however I'm actually going to read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult as I've been dying to read it for ages and can't wait any longer!
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  1. I am LOVING seeing how other people reacted to this book!! So funny. I've never done a book club before, even though I love to read, and now I can't figure out why!! I'm skipping the next book too because I don't read non fiction (I know, I know) but I read 19 Minutes when it first came out and GET READY. I'd had two kids by the time I read it, a boy and a girl, so I felt like I could relate to EACH of the families. Especially now that my son is so weird ;) I just loved that book. LOVED. I think all teachers should have to read it.

    Can't wait to see what you think.

    1. I've never done a proper book club either, Jenn. My friends and I have swapped good books between us but we've never really discussed them like this! Oh, I'm looking forward to 19 Minutes now,might have to find time tonight to read a chapter or two :)

  2. Great review. I too found the book hard to get into at first and the switching between characters drive me crazy. But that aside I loved the book!

  3. I still love the epilogue! That's the beauty of fiction - we get to explore themes that real life doesn't let us explore. I think it added a whole new element to think about.
    Agreed that Cecilia and John-Paul's marriage might not have survived if she'd had to keep the secret. I almost wish the epilogue had gone into THAT possibility.

  4. Great review, i didn't like the epilogue either! Nineteen minutes is a good book I think you'll like it!

    1. Thanks, Rachael. I think I'm going to make a start on Nineteen Minutes this weekend :)

  5. Reading your thoughts was almost like looking into my own mind. I am impressed that I didn't skip ahead to discover the secret because I am just like you- I hate secrets. I often read the last page of a book so that I can relax while reading it without getting side tracked with wondering how it end. Seems a bit of an odd theory :P ha ha

    I was neither here nor there about the epilogue- while sometimes I like authors to add that little bit extra to the end of the story so that you aren't left wondering, I also secretly enjoy the mystery of leaving more questions than answers. Perhaps I was just too tired by the end to care because I also stayed up way past my bed time to finish it? ha ha

    1. Haha how funny, I used to read the last sentence in a book before reading it. I don't do that any more though. Thanks, Samara :)

  6. The whole "Tess settling" story line annoyed me too, along with her continued relationship with Felicity. How could you sit around a family table, even if she moved on, and pretend like nothing happened? It was unsettling.

    1. Yeah that is odd, I dunno if I could stay friends with someone who fell in love with my husband and vise-versa, even if she was family!