When amateur writers seek the advice of professionals on how to write a good story they invariably are told to:
Have an attention grabbing opening to the story;
To show rather than tell; and
To pay close attention to spelling and grammar
In my opinion, there should be a fourth piece of advice … give the story a good ending.
I recently read “The Husband’s Secret” and while the story was good, the ending was so disturbing that I will never read another book of Liane Moriarty again.
In The Husband’s Secret we first meet Cecilia, model wife of Jean-Paul, mother of three girls, and perfect housekeeper, who one day finds a letter her husband has written many years ago, in which he confesses to murdering a 17-year old girl.
We also meet Tess, wife of Will, mother and successful business woman who discovers that her husband is having an affair with her best friend.
Finally, there’s Rachel, a widow and mother of the murdered girl.
While Cecilia knows of the murder, and is deeply shocked, after reading the letter, she does nothing.
Once Tess finds out of her husband’s infidelity, she takes her son and runs home to her mother. Once there she meets an old boyfriend, Connor, with whom she has mind blowing sex.
Rachel works as an administrator in a primary school where Cecilia’s daughters and Tess’ son go to school and have Connor as a PE teacher. She is convinced that Connor killed her daughter, but lacks any proof.
The story babbles on and it’s quite enjoyable until the end.
Seeing how the police refuses to arrest Connor, after Rachel presented them with a new piece of (weak) evidence, she is going to take matters into her own hands.
During an Easter Sunday drive, she spots Connor crossing the street and floors the accelerator. Only Connor gets out of the way and she hits Cecilia’s youngest daughter, whose right arm has to be amputated.
When later she learns that it was actually Cecilia’s husband who murdered her daughter she decides not to report this to the police. He strangled her daughter, while she is responsible for a girl losing her right arm, so that makes them even.
(In a sort of epilogue the author mentions that the amputee girl will never get the chance to play tennis. I guess Liane Moriarty has never heard of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Andres Gomez who were all left handed tennis champions.)
As for Tess … she gets a visit from her husband, who states that having an affair wasn’t quite as much fun after she left the house, and he wants her back. Even though Will is a frumpy, overweight, hairy man, who is unable to satisfy her sexually, she takes him back without a second thought to Connor, the gorgeous ex-boyfriend, PE teacher, who sent her to the moon and back with orgasms.
I guess Tess has never heard the saying … once a cheater, always a cheater. Several women will tell her that, once a man has eaten the green grass on the other side, sooner or later he will go back for another nibble.
Not only that, Tess finds herself pregnant with another child. Is it Will’s or is it Connor’s … she claims she will never know. Has Liane Moriarty never heard of DNA testing?
The marriage is clearly in trouble, but Tess thinks that another baby will make Will stay put. Not only is this naïve, it’s irresponsible.
As for Cecilia … she knows that her husband is a murderer but she will do nothing. She loves her husband and that’s that. She will continue to keep the house clean, do the laundry, do the cooking and now busy herself with her research on arm prosthesis and will be that.
The moral of the story …
Once you’re married and have kid, your happiness is of no importance. It’s all about the kid, let the kid not lose his father because then you’ll ruin his life.
(What kind of message does this send to desperately unhappy women? You don’t matter and put up with anything and everything? What about divorced women, are they supposed to feel guilty? I would like to tell Liane Moriarty that divorcing my husband was the best decision I’ve ever made.)
It’s okay to take the law into your own hands and almost kill an innocent man while a murderer goes free, she’ll even have him over for a cup of tea.
It’s okay to stay married to a murderer. After all, in your marriage vows you promised to be there for better or for worse, so a woman’s place is by her husband, regardless of his actions. Better that than for your three daughters to lose their father, for you to lose an excellent provider and having to move out from a stately home.
And it’s also okay to be a murderer as long as you’re sorry. After all, Jean-Paul as the killer gave up rowing (his favorite past time) and a few years later he gave up sex for 6 months. Oh well, who can argue with that?
Never mind that some people get the death sentence for murder, get life in prison, or spend several years in prison for manslaughter, this guy is sorry, gave up rowing and sex for a few months so that evens it out.
I am by no means a professional, but my advice to enthusiastic writers would be … pay attention to the ending of your story. People of all walks of life, all with their own problems will read your story and hopefully forget their troubles for a while. Do you really want to be judge and jury and risk offending your readers?