TITLE OF THE BOOK: The Husband's Secret
AUTHOR: Liane Moriarty
PUBLISHER: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
NUMBER OF PAGES: 394
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2013
Book Summary: Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive.
Our Star Rating: 4 Stars
Kellie did such an amazing job with this discussion. When everyone came in, we were all handed a personalized letter with the message:
"For my book club friend, Kate
to be opened only in the event
of the discussion"
Then we all gathered out on her beautiful patio to begin our discussion. Kellie opened by asking the question everyone had asked themselves a million times while reading this book, "Would you open the letter?" There was no hesitation and the answer was unanimous, yes we would all open the letter as soon as we found it. The real discussion came when we were all asked what would we then do with that shocking, unanticipated confession. We all had ways we hoped we would react, but decided that when faced with such a raw reality, we have no idea how we would respond.
Kellie then asked everyone individually to open their letter and read it to the group. Each letter was thoughtfully written and posed a question about a theme, character or situation from the book that we would then discuss here are a couple of examples of ideas that we discussed:
"To error is human, to forgive, divine"
There is a definite strong thread of the idea of forgiveness throughout the book. Every character is faced with the decision to forgive or not at some point in the plot. We were all posed the question would we be able to forgive knowing the information that Rachel acquires, or that Cecilia discovers or that Tess is confronted with from the beginning? We had very mixed answers, some talked about the circumstances, some discussed how they sincerely hoped they would react while others definitely felt they would not be able to. It was definitely an interesting discussion.
The issue of parenting and the role of fathers
This was a fascinating question to discuss. Throughout the book you read about many different families as well as generations. They all go about life in very different ways. At one point in the story one mother says to another "You're a mother, you would do anything for your child, as would I" we discussed different boundaries we set for our children and if there were limits to what you would let them get away with. Most everyone in the group agreed that they thought it was necessary for children to experience consequences for their actions, and while it would be hard to be in the situation that some of the mothers in the book found themselves in, we agreed that it would have been better to not make excuses and to confront the difficult consequences of their children's actions.
The role of fathers was an unusual question that generated quite a bit of discussion. We talked about how the father's role has evolved and how they are more involved in family life now. It was interesting to hear about everyone's home life while they were growing up and how it differs now with their husband and their own children. Fathers are more involved in the child rearing process now a days, they have a more equal role in their children's lives, for the most part. In older generations, fathers were seen more as the bread winners and rarely had any interaction with their children. There are a couple of fathers in the book who interpret their role as father very differently from each other, and it was interesting to go back and analyze them in the light of this discussion
The idea of how grief can be entangled with guilt
Every single character in this book is riddled with grief at some point in the story, and it was interesting to analyze all the different ways in which they dealt with it. Everyone griefs in a different way, and we discussed how their different grieving processes changed the outcome of the story. We discussed alternated endings if some of the characters had just dealt with their grief in different ways. We also talked about how guilt affected some of their grieving and how that, as well, altered some major life decisions.
Is a secret better left a secret
We wrapped up the evening by discussing the controversial question of is a secret better left untold. There were a lot of different feelings on this one, but almost everyone agreed that if they were Cecilia, they would never want to find out the secret her husband had been keeping for years. But then we brought up poor Rachel and how the secret of how Janie died, had taken over her life and had never let her fully move on, she had become obsessed with unraveling that horrible secret. We talked about when holding a secret before telling asking yourself, who will this benefit, am I looking for an outcome that will only benefit me, or will others gain something from learning this information. We also agreed that it definitely depends on the circumstance.
Other topics we discussed were divorce, the Berlin wall and how it symbolized the secret, ethics and values, emotional cheating vs. physical cheating, which is worse?, phobias, and marriage. This book is the perfect book club book, there are endless things to discuss!
Drug and Alcohol use: Mild
This review was written by Kate