Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Michael Joseph, Penguin
Publication Date: 29th August 2013
Paperback: 416 pages
Why did I choose to read this book? I was invited by Penguin to join the blog tour & I can’t resist a secret.
Where to read? Unfortunately a trip to Sydney would break most people’s bank balance so I suggest a trip to an Antipodean style cafe like Lantana in Fitzrovia to settle down with a good quality coffee in a comfy chair.
Refreshments: The dominance of tupperware in this book suggests that leftovers should be consumed whilst reading. The only thing I found in the freezer was my homemade spicy tomato soup which made a welcome accompaniment along with some crusty bread.
A child’s innocent interest in the history of the Berlin Wall leads to a trip into the attic and the unearthing of an envelope. Cecilia recognises her husband’s handwriting but is dumbfounded by what on earth he would want her to read ‘only in the event of my death.’ When Cecilia opens the letter the contents reveal an earth shattering confession that rocks her world to the core. However, if she confesses the secret everything she holds dear will be destroyed but if she doesn’t can she live with herself?
The story is divided into the seven days of one week. This choice in structure is particularly effective for this story especially because each of the characters’ lives are interlocked. The momentum of this style creates the domino effect whereby this one event, the opening of the letter, snowballs swiftly crashing into these people’s lives leaving a path of devastation.
In terms of the characters John-Paul is arguably the central one as it is to his penmanship that we owe this whole sorry saga. He is an immensely dislikable character due to not only his actions but his pathetic inability to live up to the consequences of them. His wife Cecilia, I found particularly interesting. This was because it is largely through her eyes that we witness the events. In addition the contradictions within her reactions and behaviours, after the revelation of her her husband’s secret, lead you to seriously question how you might behave in the same instance. However, my favourite family sub-plot was Tessa, Felicity and Will whose rather baffling ménage à trois with a twist produced some light relief especially in the guise of Tessa’s mother Lucy.
The central theme to the story is that of the role of fate. In this case, the idea that certain paths are presented to you once you have made a life decision. This is especially the case for John-Paul and his decision to write the letter. In addition, karma also plays an important role especially with an extremely shocking event near the end of the story. I don’t want to give anything away, but I found the thought processes of both Cecilia and Rachel surrounding this event of particular interest. The impression I was left with was that life is a series of checks and balances and you always end up paying in the end.
Overall this was a surprisingly dark and thought provoking story that thankfully didn’t kowtow to a sunny ending and remained true to the reality of life.
Rating: 8 out of 10 – definitely recommend this read!