“What’s the husband’s secret?” asked Matt when he saw it on my coffee table. “I bet he’s having an affair.” That was my exact thought too. Oh no. Not another book where someone has an affair. As you might remember from back when I read Petite Anglaise, affairs – even literary ones – are not cool in my books. I kind of feel like they’ve been done to death (with the notable exception of the affairs in Gillian Flynn’s excellent Gone Girl, which I read at the end of 2012 and I thought was full of fascinating and necessary plot twists, including affairs. It also helped that both of the main characters were so intriguingly repulsive and removed from reality that I didn’t really care what they got up to).
But fortunately, The Husband’s Secret is not that he is having an affair, but a different sort of secret altogether. And while the cover of this book is very floral, its contents are decidedly not. Without spoiling the surprises in the story, I can see why this is such a popular book club pick. There’s a lot going on in The Husband’s Secret, including three very strong female lead characters who have plenty of personality and some great younger girl characters with authentic, individual voices that I liked very much.
I also loved that the majority of this book is set in Sydney’s northern suburbs and beaches, where I lived for close to two years from early 2011 to late 2012. At one point, a couple of characters end up at Dee Why Beach, which is an absolutely lovely place – especially if you like Thai food served family style with oceanfront views (are there any people in the world who do not like this? If so, I don’t really care to meet them).
It’s a pretty quick read (I polished it off in two evenings) and kept my brain ticking the day after I read the last page. All in all, I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a good twisty marriage-related mystery in the style of SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep, fiction set in Australia or a thriller that’s still gentle enough to read at bedtime.