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Imagine 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 only the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.Amazon
Full disclosure. This is chick lit and I liked it.
I’m not a total grump. I like some chick lit. Here’s proof! I like Liane Moriarty’s chick lit.
I have enjoyed every book I have read written by Liane Moriarty. (I have not read all her books, but I have read several.)
Why THIS book?
I have been a bit down on chick lit lately. I needed to recalibrate. It isn’t all chick lit I dislike. It is lazy poorly written chick lit I dislike. So… why not read some chick lit I am pretty much guaranteed to enjoy? And hey look, it doesn’t take place in New York! Bonus!
I had been saving this book for a while for when I needed a break and a guarantee “yes, I liked that” book. Thankfully, Moriarty did not let me down!
Like all Moriarty books, this one takes place “down under” and has a lot of characters and interwoven plots. There are a few other staples to her writing: children, mothers, primary school, troubled marriages, believable dramas, stakes that are high enough to warrant concern without getting overly melodramatic, reveals about how everyone is connected, and realistic characters who you want to actually know in real life.
Dang, did I just do most of ASPECT in one paragraph? Ok, I will go into a bit more detail.
Atmosphere and Style
Australia, parenthood, marriages, and real-life all written totally authentically and layered with enough detail that we feel we are there but not stifled with exposition.
This is where Moriarty shines. At least one of the areas anyway. I love her characters. They are distinct and believable. And yes, there are a lot of them. A LOT. But… even if you have to take a second to remember who is who at the start of the next chapter, the people and their individual situation are distinct enough that you are never actually lost, you just might need the occasional nudge or detail… and Moriarty supplies these perfectly. More than just good descriptions, she gives each character totally understandable motivations. The reader totally buys into what everyone is thinking and feeling and thus what everyone is doing… even when the characters are at odds with one another. It is masterful.
Like the other Moriarty books I have read, there are multiple plots that merge and affect one another. Part of the fun is figuring out how people and situations are connected and what that means for all the characters involved. This book has three different plotlines going… and sadly this is where my only quibble comes in.
Three plot lines… but only two really connect and matter to one another. We have a wife/her husband/his secret. We have a different woman/her son/her grandson. And we=e have a third woman/her cousin/a marriage in crisis. Two of these three interconnect pretty importantly, and I won’t spoil how because it is artfully done. The third plot though barely overlaps with either. I mean, it is connected, but honestly, it could have been left out and any ensuing plot holes could have been very easily dealt with some narrative tweaks. It could have stood on its own or been worked into a different Moriarty book… but it just wasn’t needed here.
My copy of this book is over 400 pages long and while it never felt overly long, taking a third of it out would not have overly diminished the heft of the novel.
It is doubly frustrating because I really liked the characters in that third plot and was interested to see what would happen to them… it just didn’t connect nearly as well to the other two and left me wondering why it was even there.
Highly. I was hooked with the premise and my interest never wavered. It is an “easy” book to read. The narrative moves along at a good pace and the climax and resolution are totally worth the 400 pages.
Would I recommend it?
Highly! Moriarty is a favorite for a reason. Right now I think she is my “comfort” author. I know that I will enjoy her books and sometimes that is essential. You might now know what is going to happen… but you know that you will enjoy the journey. Sweet sweet chick lit that I can recommend to anyone and everyone who needs something decent to read.
*** ASPECT Method (I created this, I used it, feel free to do the same.)
A Atmosphere: How did it make me feel? What was the world like? This might include the overall tone.
S Style: What was the writing style like? Simplistic or sophisticated? Clunky or beautiful?
P Plot/Pace: Was it engaging? Were there holes? Did it feel too rushed or too long?
E Enjoyment: Was it a chore to finish or compelling enough that I picked it over other fun activities?
C Characters: Were they believable, sympathetic, interesting?
T This? Why did I read *This* book?