I like to support my local library and join in their activities. It is one of the very few places that has entered the twenty-first century in this town. It is progressive, totally integrated and welcoming of minorities, like me, a ‘Brought-In’,(Local-speak for “not-from-here”). It has grown incredibly since I moved here, from very small with narrow choices in books alone to a vibrant, vital place of diverse volumes, all types of music and audio books, and movies, (ranging from classics to the most recently released, plus foreign films), and about 20 computer banks. It has multiple reading groups, young people’s groups, Lego club, yoga, Zumba, speakers, film nights, and other assorted activities, including quilting and crafts. I learned to ‘can’ and put up banana butter through them, but I don’t ‘do’ many of the club-type activities. However, if there is a reading challenge, I’m all on it.
Although my TBR list is about and eighth of a mile long, I thought I would go for the library’s Valentine’s Day special promotion, “A Blind Date with a Book”. On their seasonal display shelves were books wrapped in heart-print paper with just their first lines as an introduction.
I never in my life let anyone set me up on a real ‘blind date’, but this was an experience I felt didn’t commit me, one date I could ‘walk out on’. But I have been smitten…with a new author.
What I picked up was “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty. The story is good, it’s complex without being confusing. But what really makes this a wonderful, nearly spiritual, book is the insight of the author about all things human.
The story starts with several women, whose lives are intertwined more than they, or the reader , could know.
A woman in Sydney, Australia returns with her young son to her home parish community in Melbourne after her world is turned upside-down by her husband and their business partner, her cousin, who was so close to her, they were like two halves of one person, or so she thought.
In that community is a “Supermom” who is rocked to the core of her soul when she finds a letter written by her husband, to be read upon his death.
Also there is an older woman whose daughter’s unsolved murder consumes her life. She is devastated to find that her daughter-in-law is moving to New York after getting a job promotion, taking from her her son and the only joy that lessens her pain, her toddler grandson.
All find themselves reunited, along with their loved ones and other characters.
What bowled me over with this book is not so much the characters or the story itself. The author’s style is incredible, but even that is not the main factor in my appreciation of “The Husband’s Secret”; it is the emotional honestly and incredible insight into people’s minds and souls that Liane Moriarty imparts.
“The Husband” isn’t the only one with a secret. What kept me reading this story is that all of the people are good people, which makes you care what happens to them, despite their flaws. In it we see how one moment of anger, one unchecked action or thought can lead to tragedy. Tragedy can perpetuate more tragedy, yet there can be healing, forgiveness and redemption as well.
The inner workings of good people’s minds are honestly revealed. It shows how people often perceive what they want to see, (or fear to be real), how easy it is to dismiss other people’s feelings and how ready most people can be to think others capable of terrible actions, even those to whom they are closest. It shows how even the best of us has the potential to act on impulse, to think or do the, (normally), unthinkable. And even when a person thinks they have regained control, they realize that some things are actually out of their control.
It shows what I think most of us overlook in life; that we are stronger than we know we can be. We have the capability of not only wrong-doing but can face and endure horrors and, to return to my last post, we are capable of mercy. We need to realize that no one ‘has it all together’. No one knows what inner struggles the person next to them faces on a daily basis; not even the ones who seem confident and efficient, not the ones who seem to be unconcerned. Often insecurities make for what seems to be the strongest characteristics in a person. And, tragically, inner insecurities that lead to unspoken words and actions that then lead to life-long misunderstandings, pain and more complexities than are necessary…with potentially tragic consequences. If only we could let ourselves speak all that is on our minds and in our hearts to those around us. How much of our lives revolve around fear of what others think or our fear of what we consider our shortcomings!
However, this is a hopeful book. There are no magical answers that make everything right at the end, but there is healing. The honest ‘ways of the world’ subtleties that make up relationships and lives are explored and woven seamlessly into the characters’ lives.
Liane Moriarty has made a fan with this book. I hope to find time for more of her work and I hope that she continues in this vein for many years to come.