Cecilia has a nearly perfect life in Sydney. She’s strikingly successful selling Tupperware, volunteering, and managing her home, including the lives of her three daughters, her handsome husband, and meticulously organized pantry. But one day as she looks in her attic, she just happens to find an envelope addressed to her from her husband, “to be opened in the event of his death.” Curiosity, inflated into anxiety and fear by little things that have bothered her, wars with her desire to be a good wife and honor his request not to open it.
In Melbourne, Tess is devastated when her husband and her close-as-a-sister cousin tell her they have fallen in love. She takes her young son and goes home to Sydney to stay with her mother, who’s broken her ankle. There, she finds the path of her life affected by the terrible secret contained in Cecilia’s letter.
Rachel, who dotes on her little grandson, is hurt when her son and his wife announce they’ll be moving out of the country for a couple of years. An old wound whose pain is just kept at bay by the joy she has in her grandson opens up wide again. And Rachel will be affected by that letter as well.
Liane Moriarty’s novel slowly reveals the stories of each woman as she works toward revealing The Husband’s Secret. And then she peels off layers of each character, revealing to readers what they will do when the truth strikes: reactions the women didn’t even realize they had in themselves. It’s a fascinating book about the repercussions of actions, of paths taken and not taken, about human nature when convictions are put to the test.
Rated: High, for language. There are about 20 instances of strong language and some more uses of moderate language, including British/Australian terms. There is some reference to brief violence and a few sexual scenes that are not detailed.