What would YOU do…? (4.5 stars)
Source- review copy, publisher
Published by Penguin Books, UK, due for publication August 2013
I read the Kindle edition. The paperback edition is 416 pages
I read and really enjoyed Liane Moriarty’s ‘What Alice Forgot’ last year. The summary for this one sounded even more compelling however, and appealed to me instantly.
What would you do if you found out the life you’d been living was a lie? That your perfect husband and father of your children wasn’t the man you thought he was? That’s the dilemma facing Cecilia after she finds a letter addressed to her from her husband instructing her it is ‘only to be opened in the event of his death.’ John-Paul happens to be very much alive, but has been acting strange lately, so it is with some trepidation that Cecilia opens it, only to find that its contents immediately plunge her into her worst nightmare…
Told from the perspective of three very different women whose lives ultimately connect, this is a complex novel of secrets and betrayal that I think will be appreciated by fans of Jodi Picoult or Diane Chamberlain. The story has a great hook right from the start, which had me enthralled. I wanted to know John-Paul’s dark secret and when I found out what it was, I wasn’t disappointed.
The reader witnesses relationships and friendships unravelling and gains a real insight into the characters who all have great depth, even if they are not always sympathetic or even likeable on occasion. I found myself disliking Rachel who came across as an embittered and selfish old lady, despite knowing her circumstances. Cecilia, whilst some kind of super-mum, wrestled with a nightmare that I personally couldn’t comprehend facing and it took her away from her comfort zone and the belief that up until then, her marriage had been practically perfect. I also felt so sorry for Tess who is hit with a double betrayal right at the start of the story and just wanted everything to work out alright for her in the end. The writing and situation is so gripping, that as a reader you genuinely feel quite involved in these three women’s lives.
This novel encompasses so many themes: marriage, friendship and motherhood being the primary ones, all of which are impacted in some way by the contents of John-Paul’s letter. The women who are affected are all realistic. Their situation could happen to anyone, which is why this story is made all the more powerful. We witness their loves, loss and hatred as the plot unfolds; something remarkable has happened against the backdrop of everyday family lives and as a consequence, nothing will ever be the same.
The writing is brilliantly done. There’s some subtle humour, emotion as well as a nice slice of romance and just so much intrigue that I had to keep on reading. This was a one sitting book for me. Its ending, whilst possibly not to everyone’s tastes, was one that I felt so appropriate. It challenges some of the revelations throughout the story and as a reader forces you to question your own judgement. I love the fact that Moriarty explores what could have been as well as what actually was. It could have been a bit twee, but was actually very well done. This was a story about the consequences of someone’s actions and it seemed only fitting that this was ultimately turned on its head.
I would certainly recommend this story to anyone looking for a piece of contemporary fiction that makes you think. This is a novel that did make me do a bit of soul-searching along the way, and also left me with a bit of a hankering to go and buy some Tupperware, which is not as odd as that sounds. Read it and you will understand why!