Home » Book Club Meet #1 – The Husband’s Secret

Book Club Meet #1 – The Husband’s Secret

Welcome to Dreams and Caffeine’s very first book club meeting.  The first book selected to read was The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.

Below is the list of discussion points to get the conversation started.  Feel free to pose additional questions for discussion and to respond to others’ comments, or to just talk about any part of the book that you’d like.  Everyone will respond in the comments section below the post.  Please remember to be polite and keep it clean.  Originally I planned on announcing the next book at the end of the book club meeting, but have decided to announce it tomorrow (Thursday) in a separate post.  I hope everyone joins in on the discussion!  As a reminder, subscribe to my blog to receive future updates about the books we’ll be reading.

Now on to the questions…

  1. When Cecilia finds the letter from her husband she is tormented by the ethics of opening it. Do you agree with her ultimate decision?  What would you have done?
  1. Given all of the secrets the characters withhold from each other, are secrets ever justified in marriage?
  1. The Berlin Wall is referred to throughout the novel as Ester works on her school project. And in fact, we learn that Cecilia met John-Paul on the day the Wall finally came down.  What does the Wall signify in the book?
  1. Grief is a major theme throughout the book. How has grief affected Rachel?  Rob?  Tess?  John-Paul?   In what ways have their lives been irrevocably altered as a result of their grieving?  Do you think people can fully stop grieving and move on with their lives?
  1. Cecilia has been married to John-Paul for fifteen years and has three children with him. Until she opens the letter, she seems to trust him and believe him to be the wonderful husband and father she’s always thought him to be.  But when she discovers his terrible, sinful secret, she begins to question him.  How well can one know one’s spouse?  Is it possible to ever completely know another person?
  1. The Husband’s Secret was written in third-person and in past tense. What did you think of the writing style?
  1. What did you think of the Epilogue?
  1. Each character had their own issues to deal with throughout the book. Which character(s) did you feel the most for and why?
  1. Throughout the novel, you get glimpses of Janie’s strict upbringing. Do you think that played a role in her untimely death?
  1. Overall, did you enjoy the book? Would you recommend it for others to read?

That is all for today my friends!  I hope you enjoyed the book club meeting and I will be announcing the next club read tomorrow.  Happy Wednesday!


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  1. Brittny says:

    1. I can see both sides of the ethical dilemma. In her defense, the letter is addressed to her and pertains to the family that she built with him. Anything that is inside of the letter is information that is meant for her. She should be able to access the information that was intended for her. In his defense, the letter was to be opened once he passed (if at all) and the biggest part was that he asked her not to. If it was me I would have opened it on the spot because I am nosy and I would have wanted to see all the beautiful things my husband wanted me to hear once he passed, and would have been in the shock of my life having read a different kind of note. If she didn’t ask him I would say she had every right to read it but considering she asked, he said no and she did it anyway, I believe it put her in the wrong.

    2. The only secret I think is justified in a marriage are secrets that are not mine to tell. If I was involved, have information, or was told about something that effects us in some way but the overall secret is not mine, I typically do not share it with my husband. I’m fairly boring and don’t have a lot of secrets in my life though. I can’t really see how secrets make things better, seems like a fancy word for lie.

    3. I usually suck at symbolism, but I think the Berlin wall in this story symbolizes the before and after of Cecilia’s knowledge about what her husband ha done. The past and the future. She had been safe behind that wall, having no clue what lie underneath her husbands mood swings and “dark times” and when the wall came down her world was opened up in ways she could not have predicted.

    4. I think grief affects everyone in significant ways. It isn’t so much the grief as it is how they moved forward or past that grief that really changes the way the characters lived their life. Tess moved past her grief by finding comfort in another man. This affected her life by giving her a daughter whose paternity she would always question and a “secret” that she would have to hide for the rest of her life. John-Paul decided that in order to live with his grief he would be live a life of service and make sure he was never too happy in his personal pursuits. This made hime appear to be a good citizen of the community and gave him some respect that he had lost for himself a long time ago. Rachel is the one I feel the most for. As a new mother it is terrifying to think that your children can and probably will do things you have no idea they are doing. It is even more terrifying to think that those things can cause them harm. And beyond that the fact there can be health issues that strike at any given moment that you had no idea was there. I think Rachel never truly let go of her grief, she simply went through the motions of her daily life. Her grandson helped her pull out of the fog but she still never worked through the grief of losing her daughter.

    5 This is scary, but no it is not possible to fully know someone else. I can take it a step further and say it is almost impossible to fully know your own inner self. This is where faith has to come in.

    6. I enjoyed it .

    7. I loved the epilogue! It really made me think about the unknown side of all the situations we face in our own lives. I thought I had always known my side of the story, but there are so many elements to our daily lives that change the outcome of any one of a billion things. It was interesting to see that John-Paul, although abusive, did not actually kill that girl and that the daughter of Tess’ could very well be the gym teachers! I’ve never seen a book end quite like that and I really enjoyed it!

    8. I felt the most for Rachel. I am a new mom and I couldn’t imagine a world in which I lost a child. It would seem so utterly unfair that the world just kept going. I remember feeling the same way Rachel felt about the world moving on without her daughter after my aunt died. I was so sad and yet the world kept going. It wasn’t fair, I felt like everyone should show some respect and be affected by my tragedy. I really connected to how she had a hard time seeing her daughter’s friends all grown up when they should still be teens, like her daughter. It would be a terrible cycle of what ifs and why. It felt like she lost all of who she was when she lost her daughter.

    9. Janie’s upbringing may have aided in her untimely death but I doubt it was the actual cause of it. Teens are going to do things that may or may not be dangerous but I think it could have been prevented had she been able to talk to her mother about it. She would have been able to hear her mom say she deserved to be with the very best because she was the very best. It would have changed what she said to John-Paul that day and would have changed her future. I don’t think the couple would have necessarily lived happily ever after, but if she had not thought he was “too good for her” she would not have gone there to break up with him that day.

    10. I would definitely recommend this book to others. It was interesting and a quick, fun read. Thanks!!!

  2. Lisa says:

    1. So, if I was Cecilia and John-Paul responded like he did over the phone (including his recent behavior of withholding sex, crying in the shower, etc.), I would open it… no hesitation. Now, if it was a different situation where I found a letter from my husband and his response was that it was simply a letter to me about our lives together to be read after his death, and he wasn’t acting weird, I wouldn’t open it.

    2. I don’t think relationships can survive with secrets, because eventually secrets come out and things get real. However, I do get why people have secrets… it’s to prevent their current relationship from changing and/or preventing others from passing judgement on them for decisions they have made. I highly doubt Cecilia would have married John-Paul if she had known that he murdered a young girl. So in order to prevent Cecilia from seeing him in a different light, he kept the secret from her.

    3. The Berlin Wall is referred to throughout the novel as Ester works on her school project. And in fact, we learn that Cecilia met John-Paul on the day the Wall finally came down. What does the Wall signify in the book?

    4. Rachel lost her daughter and never recovered from it… I kind of feel like she stopped living as soon as her daughter died. It appeared to me that she just went through the motions of life, never really feeling anything, but the pain of losing her daughter. I can’t help but wonder if she and her family had sought professional help and acknowledged the grief, if things might have been different for them? I also wonder if they had supported each other through the horrible event, if they might have become closer as a family. In the end, it was a horrible ordeal that her family had to go through.

    Tess basically got slabbed across the face without any warning. Her relationship appeared to be happy, their business was booming, and they had a darling little boy. Yet, because her husband was going through a midlife crisis, he decided to have an emotional affair. What I thought was a little weird is how the cousin didn’t really feel that bad. She basically said because she had always been obese and was now skinny it wasn’t her fault that this happened… which is just crazy.

    Poor, poor Rob. I feel like he got cheated out of happiness until he found his wife Lauren and made his own little family. Basically, his mom and dad shut down due to his sister’s death, he loses his sister and has to deal with that on his own, and then even after years have gone by, his mother still doesn’t see him. I’m glad he found such a caring wife that loves him… whether or not Rachel likes her.

    5. I think you can learn to gauge your partner’s reactions, likes, dislikes, etc. through living together and sharing your lives. However, I don’t think you can truly know exactly what someone else thinks or what they would do when put in a life changing situation. Human nature is a powerful thing… John-Paul is the perfect example of this. No one would ever suspect him being capable of this type of behavior. He was a good law abiding citizen, a great husband, a hard worker, and a wonderful father… yet one night, he did the unthinkable.

    6. The writing style was not my favorite, but I will admit by switching view points it kept me reading to find out what was going on in that person’s situation.

    7. What did you think of the of the Epilogue?

    8. Rob, Cecilia, and all of the kiddos. They were innocent people who got tossed into their current situation.

    9. I have to wonder if her parents had been more open with her and not as strict, if she might have opened up to Rachel about her life and what was going on in it??? Who knows???

    10. I thought the book was good and easy to read. I would recommend it to someone else to read.

    • Brittny says:

      I would totally want to read the sappy love note before my husband died. I don’t think I would even give it enough time to think anything bad would happen.

      I totally agree about Rachel and I do feel for Rob. It’s crazy that she basically stopped being a mom to the child she still had. Not sure how I feel about that. I also don’t know how I feel about Lauren, is she trying to reach our and be helpful to Rachel or is she being snooty and showing off her fancy lifestyle to her simple mother in law?

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