I’m so excited to welcome lots of new subscribers to the Handbasket! Thanks so much for joining us. I love it when you all drop by and chat, or even just peek in. (I’m a lurker on lots of blogs myself.) I do my best to respond to comments right away, and I encourage you to talk amongst your dear selves. I only ask that everyone be kind to one another, and save politics for Twitter, Facebook, etc. You can come here to get away from that stuff…
Last week I was talking about books making me cry.
Louise Penny’s Glass Houses was up first. If I had to, I would brave a Black Friday Walmart sale crowd to get her latest book the day it comes out, and feel no shame. (And I’m strictly an online Black Friday shopper.)
The second book is Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret.
My husband teases me because it takes me two years to adopt an idea if someone suggests it to me. His list is long: a hot tub, getting satellite tv, cancelling satellite for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, getting an iPhone (I just couldn’t bear to get rid of my flip phone. They’re so practical!), a GPS in my car, the oven repaired (I think that just seemed like two years to him. I swear it was only two months.). A certain writer friend had been suggesting that I read Liane Moriarty for at least two years–though it was probably more like four. I’m not sure why I resisted. Probably because she was so…popular. (I know. Louise Penny is wildly popular now. But when I started reading her in 2011, she answered my emails to her myself, and even gave me advice about what to visit in Quebec!) It’s not that I equate popular with bad. It’s that I’m a contrarian. If many people like something, then I don’t want to be one of the crowd. (Chocolate and Supernatural don’t count.)
I picked up The Husband’s Secret as an audiobook on my Hoopla app a few weeks ago. It was some 15 or 16 hours long, I think. That’s a big book. I love big books, and love them even more when they’re on audio. And I couldn’t stop listening. In fact, as I was finishing it, I was driving home in the dark from St. Louis. Normally I would be pushing the speed limit, but I had lots of people pass me because I wanted to make sure I got to finish it while I was still in the car. It worked. I finished it four miles away. Long enough for me to compose myself after getting all weepy.
There’s a mystery in this book. To my mind, every book is a bit of a mystery: both to the writer as she writes it, and to the reader. We all want to figure out how it will end.
Cecilia Fitzpatrick is a successful, middle-class Australian mom, wife, and Tupperware sales superstar. But one day, while searching for something else in her attic, she finds a letter addressed to her in her husband’s hand. The envelope is supposed to be opened on his death. Only, he’s nowhere near dead. And when she tells him about it, he doesn’t want her to read the letter. She almost doesn’t. In fact, she holds out way, way longer than I would have. I would’ve torn that sucker open the moment I found it and completely forgotten what I’d gone to the attic for. But plot. Moriarty is particularly good at suspense.
Hers is an interesting approach to suspense, and one I highly approve of. She very much telegraphs what is about to happen in the story, and focuses on the details of how her characters arrive at the discoveries. Is that cheating? Maybe. It doesn’t work so well in a standard mystery novel. Mystery folk want to guess. They like to be fooled. But Moriarty wants the reader to experience the moral processes her characters experience.
Reviews I’ve read complain that her work is soap-operaish. Like that’s a bad thing. I no longer watch daytime soaps with any regularity, but I do believe in them. I learned plotting from soaps, and lots more about storytelling. Talk about character development–Soap characters have lifelong arcs when it comes to emotions.
Once Cecilia opens the letter, her life changes dramatically. She discovers that it’s not just her and her family that’s affected, but other women, other families as well. And it’s all connected to the death of a teenage girl decades in the past. There are tons of descriptions of the book online if you want more detail. I don’t want to offer any spoilers.
Other book news:
Yesterday was the paperback release of my gothic novel, The Abandoned Heart. Yay!
It was also release day for Marybeth Mayhew Whalen’s second book, When We Were Worthy. Her work has much in common with Liane Moriarty’s, and I highly recommend it. Congratulations, Marybeth!
AND one of my partners in crime with the Trouble the Black Cat Detective books, Claire Matturo, brought out her own Trouble book yesterday: Trouble in Tallahassee. Claire lives in Florida, and is still out of touch because of Irma. How unfortunate is that? I think we’ll have to have her on the blog when she gets back. Do check out her work in the mean time.
On a totally different subject…I think I’m going to get my husband to go with me to see IT this weekend. Will you go?!