This international bestseller by Australian author Liane Moriarty has just made its way into our public libraries. I couldn’t wait to borrow it.
We all have our secrets. Some of these secrets will follow us to our graves. Some will be discovered after our deaths. But what if we had not kept any secrets in our lives? What if we had the benefit of hindsight and acted differently? Will our fates be twisted beyond recognition? This in itself would make a brilliant theme and author Liane Moriarty pulls it off pretty well.
Set in a small Catholic community in Australia, the story opens with Cecilia Fitzpatrick finding a letter in the attic. It is an old letter from her husband to her, to be opened only upon his death. She calls her husband John-Paul to clarify, he tells her that it was written when their first baby girl was born and makes her promise not to open it.
The story swings to other members of the community. Taking shifting female viewpoints, he author goes into the minds of a mother who has lost her son to his wife, a mother who lost her daughter a murderer, a woman who lost her husband to her best friend, only to fall in love with her son’s PE teacher. These are all “side dishes” and I find it a pity that they are more interesting than the main plot which revolves around John Paul’s secret in that unopened letter. Suspicion gets the better of Cecilia. John Paul’s sudden return from the US and his frantic search for the letter makes her even more determined to open it.
Sadly, the story climaxes when Cecilia reads the letter and even more sadly, the “secret” is quite obvious by then. Frankly, I almost wanted to stop reading after that. The plot takes a rather contrived turn as the author tries to grant poetic justice to the woman who lost her daughter.
Overall, it’s quite an entertaining read, but the plot is way too predictable. Definitely over-rated.
© Chan Joon Yee