Book Discussion Questions: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret book cover

Title: The Husband’s Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty
Page Count: 396 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Moving, Witty, Character-Driven

Summary: Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive.

These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. What were your thoughts when you read the Prologue about Pandora?

2. Why do You think Cecelia was afraid to open the letter? What do you think finally spurred Cecelia to open the letter?

3. You find a letter from your husband/friend/significant other that says to be opened only in the event of my death. What do you do?

4. Once Cecilia read the letter, she faces quite a dilemma. Do you agree with her decisions or is there something else she could have done?

5. After Cecilia read the letter she said she was “No Longer Cecilia Fitzpatrick, she’d ceased to exist the moment she read the letter. Why?

6. Why did John-Paul write the letter? What do you think would have happened to John-Paul if either never wrote or Cecelia never opened the letter?

7. Did you have any strong feelings about any of the characters?

8. While this story is very much about women, there were several male characters, what did you think of them. Did any of them stand out for you?

9. Cecilia said she’d married John-Paul because of the father she knew he would be. Will was a very involved dad to Liam and would go running around outside with him instead of watching a ballgame. Rachel thought of her son Rob “as a good dad. A better dad than his own father had been. That was the way these days – all men seemed to be better fathers. Do you think this is true. Does changing diapers and playing with the kids make a father “better”?

10. In this novel thematically the Berlin Wall is huge. It is mentioned repeatedly in relation to key events in all their lives. What do you think was the significance using the Berlin Wall as a focal point in the story lines?

11. The story of Cannonball Harry was really striking. This man hijacked a train and drove full speed thru the barricades with his wife and four kids lying on the floor of the train, bullets flying over their head. Cecilia said if I had been his wife, I would have said it’s not worth it; who cares if we’re stuck behind this wall? At least we’re alive. Death is too high a price for freedom. What did you think of this story?

12. There was another thread running the story – The Biggest Loser.  Do you think using that show with that title had any significance? Who was the “Biggest Loser”?

13. Grief and guilt are major themes in the novel. What do you think determines how guilty one feels? Is it the situation, or is it determined by who you are?

14. What did you think of the Will/Tess/Felicity Triangle?

15. Tess said of Will and Felicity, “they must have kissed. And that was worse than if they slept together.” What are your thoughts?

16. What did you think of Tess’s assessment that the only way to save her marriage was to let Will and Felicity have an affair?

17.Do you think Felicity and Will were actually in love or was it just a crush?

18. Tess read that there is no such thing as a good divorce for children. What are your thoughts?

19. What did you think about Tess’s “relationship” with Connor Whitby? Do you excuse the way she acted during that week because of the uncertainty in her marriage?

20. As it turns out Tess was technically unfaithful while Will and Felicity never consummated their relationship. What are your thoughts. Who is the “guilty party” in this scenario? Who was the Father of Tess’s baby?

21. What did you think about Rachel?

22. Rachel did not want Lauren and Rob to take her grandson away. She obviously adored him. What did you think of Rachel’s relationship with her own son?

23. What were Rachel’s feelings toward her daughter-in-law, Lauren? What do you think Laurens feelings are towards her mother-in-law?

24. Rachel hit Polly with her car. Obviously she is to blame for this. Do you think anyone else has a share in the blame?

25. Do you remember the story of Little Spiderman being hit by a car in the beginning of the novel? Cecilia then witness’s her daughter getting hit by a car and her worst fear comes true. Do you think that by keeping the secret Cecilia felt that she bore some of the responsibility for Polly’s accident? Do you think she should?

26. Cecilia ended up telling Rachel that it was John-Paul that killed Janie. Do you think she would have if Rachel hadn’t admitted that she was trying to kill Connor?

27. All these years Rachel wanted Connor Whitby put away yet she does not have John-Paul arrested. Why?

28. Do you think at the end of the day, Cecilia still love her husband?

29. John-Paul was a doting husband and active father who obviously loved his kids and the kids clearly loved their father. Does one act, even if it is a horrible act, define who you are? Do you believe that Jon-Paul went from a wonderful husband and father to an evil murderer after reading the letter?

30.  Was John-Paul the man the same as John-Paul the boy?

31. If he had done it, Do you think he should have gone to jail or did he pay for his mistake?

32. Were you surprised when you found out that John-Paul’s mother knew? What do you think she should have done?

33. What did you think of the ending? Do you think it restores some kind of moral balance?

34. At the end, we realize that John-Paul did not kill Janie. What did you think of that?

35. The novel opens with “to err is human; to forgive divine” For all the story lines, Is there forgiveness or is the damage done irreparable?

36. Is life meant to be or is it just right now and doing your best?

37. Is it ever OK to keep a secret?

38. Is it possible to ever completely know another person?

39. CBS optioned the movie rights for this novel. Liane Moriarty came up with her list of who should play the key roles. Who would you get to play the key roles?

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