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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Perfectly-Minted Writing, Beautifully-Observed Characters

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

et in the close-knit community around a Catholic primary school in Sidney, The Husband's Secret is a wonderfully readable exploration of domesticity, framed within a roller-coaster plot in which the characters' worst nightmares all turn out to be true.

Don't be put-off by those who classify this as chick-lit. Liane Moriarty's writing is perfectly-minted and her characters are beautifully observed, from the way they move, like this description of Rachel, a woman just beginning to enter old-age:

"Rachel climbed out of the car with the same sideways slide of the hips as Cecilia's mother. There was a certain age, Cecilia had noticed, before people stooped or trembled where they didn't seem to trust their bodies as they once had."

to their ever-changing moods, like this description of the house-proud Cecilia, a party-plan representative whose squeaky-clean life is suddenly turned upside down when she learns the terrible secret her husband has been harbouring:

"All these years there had been a Tupperware container of bad language in her head, and now she opened it and all those crisp, crunchy words were fresh and lovely, ready to be used.” 

It's a novel about the things we take for granted and the truths we choose to ignore. Yes, this is the territory of chick-lit: it's about marriage, children, love and compromise; but it's also the territory of great literature. I loved this book for its humanity, above all else.