Husbands secret, p.29
Cecilia breathed out. She hadn’t realised she was holding her breath. This kept happening too. She had to remember to breathe.
She sat back in the chair and wondered how John-Paul was doing with the girls, and without warning she was racked with a violent spasm of hatred like nothing she’d ever felt in her life. She hated him for what he’d done to Janie Crowley all those years ago. He was responsible for Rachel Crowley’s foot on the accelerator. The hatred spread throughout her body like fast-acting poison. She wanted to kick him, to punch him, to kill him. Dear God. She couldn’t bear to be in the same room as him. She breathed shallowly and looked around her desperately for something to break or hit. Now is not the time, she told herself. This will not help Polly.
He blamed himself, she reminded herself. The thought of his suffering gave her some relief. The hatred gradually eased to a manageable level. She knew that it would come again, that as Polly suffered through each new stage, Cecilia would look for someone other than herself to blame. That was the root of the hatred: the knowledge of her own responsibility. Her decision to sacrifice Rachel Crowley for her family had led to this moment in this hospital room.
She knew that her marriage was damaged at its very core, but she knew also that they would keep limping along together like wounded soldiers, for Polly’s sake. She’d learn how to live with the waves of hatred. It would be her secret. Her loathsome secret.
And once the waves passed, there would still be love. It was an entirely different feeling from the uncomplicated, unstinting adoration she’d felt as a young bride, walking down the aisle to that serious, handsome man; but, she knew, that no matter how much she hated him for what he’d done, she would always still love him. It was still there, like a deep seam of gold in her heart. It would always be there.
Think about something else. She pulled out her iPhone and began making a list. Today’s Easter Sunday lunch had been cancelled, but Polly’s seventh birthday party would go ahead. Could they have a pirate party in the hospital? Certainly they could. It would be the most wonderful, magical party ever. She’d make the nurses wear eye patches.
‘Mum?’ Polly opened her eyes.
‘Hello Princess Polly,’ said Cecilia. This time she was ready, like an actress about to sweep onto a stage. ‘Guess who dropped off something for you last night?’ She produced an Easter egg from under Polly’s pillow. It was wrapped in shimmering gold, with a red velvet ribbon tied around the middle.
Polly smiled. ‘The Easter Bunny?’
‘Even better. Mr Whitby.’
Polly went to hold out her hand for the egg and an expression of mild bemusement crossed her beautiful face. She frowned at her mother and waited for her to fix things.
Cecilia cleared her throat, smiled and took Polly’s left hand firmly in her own.
‘Darling,’ she said.
So it began.
There are so many secrets about our lives we’ll never know.
Rachel Crowley will never know that her husband wasn’t, as he said, seeing clients in Adelaide the day that Janie was killed. He was on a tennis court, taking part in an intensive tennis workshop he hoped would teach him how to break bloody Toby Murphy’s serve. Ed hadn’t told Rachel beforehand because he was embarrassed by his motivations (he’d seen the way Toby looked at his wife, and the way Rachel looked back) and he never told her afterwards, because he was deeply ashamed, and blamed himself, however illogically, for not being there for Janie. He never picked up his racquet again, and took his silly secret to his death.
Speaking of tennis, Polly Fitzpatrick will never know that if she hadn’t ridden her bike in front of Rachel Crowley’s car that day, she would have received a tennis racquet for her seventh birthday from her Auntie Bridget. Two weeks later she would have turned up for her first tennis lesson, where after twenty minutes her coach would have gone over to his boss on the next court and said quietly, ‘Come and see this kid’s forehand,’ and the swing of her racquet would have changed her future as swiftly as it changed when she swung the handlebars of her bike to follow Mr Whitby.
Polly will also never know that Mr Whitby did hear her call out to him that terrible Good Friday, but pretended not to, because he was desperate to get home and put his ludicrous fish kite back in the cupboard, along with his equally ludicrous hopes about another chance at a relationship with his goddamned ex-girlfriend, Tess O’Leary. Connor’s crippling guilt over Polly’s accident will help put his therapist’s daughter through Year 9 of private school and will only begin to ease the day he finally raises his eyes to meet those of the beautiful woman who owns the Indian restaurant where he has his post-therapy curry.
Tess O’Leary will never know for sure whether her husband Will is the biological father of their second child, the result of an accidental pregnancy conceived one strange April week in Sydney. The pill only works when you take it, and she’d left the packet behind in Melbourne when she flew to Sydney. Not a word will ever be spoken of the possibility, although when Tess’s adored teenage daughter mentions one year at Christmas lunch that she’s decided to be a PE teacher, her grandmother will choke on a mouthful of turkey, and her mother’s cousin will spill champagne all over her handsome French husband’s lap.
John-Paul Fitzpatrick will never know that if Janie had remembered the doctor’s appointment that day in 1984, her doctor would have listened to her describe her symptoms and, after observing her unusually tall, long skinny body, would have tentatively diagnosed her with a condition called Marfan Syndrome; a incurable, genetic disorder of the connective tissues, thought to have been suffered by Abraham Lincoln, involving elongated limbs, long thin fingers and cardiovascular complications. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, a racing heartbeat and cold hands and feet due to poor circulation, all of which Janie experienced on the day she died. It’s a hereditary condition, probably also suffered by Rachel’s aunt Petra who dropped dead when she was twenty. The GP, who thanks to an overbearing mother, was a high achiever and an excellent doctor, would have got on the phone and arranged an urgent appointment at the hospital for Janie, where an ultrasound would have confirmed her concerns and saved Janie’s life.
John-Paul will never know that it was an aortic aneurysm that killed Janie, not traumatic asphyxiation, and that if the forensic pathologist who’d done Janie’s autopsy hadn’t been suffering from a debilitating flu that day, he would not have been so willing to acquiesce to the Crowley family’s request for a limited autopsy if possible. Another pathologist would have done the full autopsy and seen the evidence, clear as day, of an aortic dissection, the indisputable cause of Janie’s death.
If it had been any other girl but Janie Crowley in the park that day, she would have staggered, gasping for air, when John-Paul realised what he was doing before the seven to fourteen seconds it takes for the average man to strangle the average woman and dropped his hands, and she would have run, tears streaming, ignoring his shouted apologies. Another girl would have reported John-Paul to the police, who would have charged him with assault, sending his life ricocheting in an entirely different direction.
John-Paul will never know that if Janie had gone to her doctor’s appointment that afternoon, she would have had urgent lifesaving surgery that very night, and while her heart was recovering she would have phoned John-Paul and broken his heart over the phone. She would have married Connor Whitby far too young and divorced him ten days after their second wedding anniversary.
Less than six months later Janie would have bumped into John-Paul Fitzpatrick at a house-warming party in Lane Cove, just moments before Cecilia Bell walked in the door.
None of us ever know all the possible courses our lives could have, and maybe should have, taken. It’s probably just as well. Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora.
Thank you so much to all the wonderfully supportive, talented people at Pan Macmillan with special thanks to Cate Paterson, S
Thank you also to my international editors (I try to work you into conversation as often as possible): Amy Einhorn and Elizabeth Stein at Amy Einhorn Books in the US, Samantha Humphreys and Celine Kelly at Penguin in the UK and Daniela Jarzynka at Bastei Luebbe in Germany.
I’m extremely grateful to my friend Lena Spark, who gave me expert medical advice, and answered my mildly gruesome questions while we pushed our daughters on the swings at the park. Any mistakes are most definitely mine.
Thank you to my friends Petronella McGovern and Margaret Palisi, for providing important information about the world of primary school. Thank you to my lovely sisters for being my lovely sisters: Jaclyn Moriarty, Katrina Harrington, Fiona Ostric and Nicola Moriarty. Thank you to Adam for the cups of tea, and to George and Anna, for letting me ‘work on the computer’. Thank you to Anna Kuper for gently encouraging George and Anna to let me work on the computer.
Thank you to my agent Fiona Inglis and everyone at Curtis Brown. Thank you also to my fellow authors and friends, Dianne Blacklock and Ber Carroll. Touring with you two by my side is always so much more fun.
But most important of all, thank you to my readers, especially those of you who take the time to write to me. I am quite embarrassingly addicted to your emails, your Facebook and Blog comments.
The book Berlin, The Biography of a City by Anthony Read and David Fisher was invaluable to me in writing this novel.
About Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty is the author of four novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot and The Hypnotist’s Love Story all of which were published successfully around the world and translated into seven languages. Writing as L.M. Moriarty, she is also the author of the Space Brigade series for children. Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. You can find out more about Liane’s books at her website www.lianemoriarty.com
Also by Liane Moriarty
The Last Anniversary
What Alice Forgot
The Hypnotist’s Love Story
Writing as L.M. Moriarty
The Petrifying Problem with Princess Petronella
The Shocking Trouble on the Planet of Shobble
The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy
The Hypnotist’s Love Story
As a hypnotherapist, Ellen helps her clients deal with all sorts of unusual problems. So when she finds out that her new boyfriend, Nathan, is being stalked by his ex-lover, she’s not worried at all; in fact, she’s rather curious and wishes she could sit down with Saskia to have a good chat about it all.
No one grows up dreaming of becoming a stalker. It’s not a life ambition or game plan. It just sort of … happens. At least that’s Saskia’s story and she’s sticking with it. And she’s determined not to be left behind by Nathan and Ellen’s new love.
Ellen’s wish to counsel Saskia comes true in a way she could never have predicted – Saskia has been masquerading as a new client …
This perceptive and honest novel from Liane Moriarty shows us that life is complicated, relationships aren’t black and white, and people are never simply good or bad. And we all do crazy things sometimes – especially when we are in love!
“Not all the best writers are to be found on the Miles Franklin shortlist. Consider Liane Moriarty, superb in technique . . . should have more critical success. All of her novels set themselves extremely difficult tasks . . . The novel blends elements of crime, horror and love story …” (Sunday Age)
What Alice Forgot
“She was floating, arms outspread, water lapping her body, breathing in a summery fragrance of salt and coconut. She had to squint through spangles of light to see her feet. Her toenails were each painted a different colour. Red. Gold. Purple. Funny.”
When Alice Love surfaces from a beautiful dream to find she’s been injured in a gym, she knows that something is very wrong – she hates exercise. Alice’s first concern is her baby, she’s pregnant with her first child, and she’s desperate to see her husband, Nick, who she knows will be worried about her.
But Alice isn’t pregnant. And Nick isn’t worried. Alice is the mother of three children and her hostile husband is in the process of divorcing her. Alice has lost ten years of her life.
Alice’s sister Elisabeth, who seems uncharacteristically cold, drives her home from the hospital. And home is totally unrecognisable, as is the rest of her life. Who is this Gina that everyone is carefully trying not to mention? Why does her mother look like she’s wearing fancy dress? And what’s all this talk about a giant lemon meringue pie?
In the days that follow, small bubbles of the past rise to the surface, and Alice is forced to confront uncomfortable truths. It turns out forgetting might be the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to her.
The Last Anniversary
“I’ll tell you something, something important. Love is a decision. Not a feeling. That’s what you young people don’t realise. That’s why you’re always off divorcing each other. No offence, dear.”
So decrees the formidable Connie Thrum of Scribbly Gum Island. She is the chief decision-maker of a rather unconventional family and her word is law.
It’s been over seventy years since Connie and her sister Rose visited their neighbours and found the kettle boiling and a baby waking for her feed, but no sign of her parents. The “Munro Baby Mystery” still hasn’t been solved and tourists can visit the abandoned home, exactly as it was found in 1932.
But now Connie has passed away and the island residents ponder her legacy. Sophie Honeywell is looking down the barrel of her fortieth birthday and still hoping for that fairytale ending. Her beautiful new friend Grace, the Munro Baby’s grand daughter, can’t tell anyone what she hopes for. It would be too shocking.
Meanwhile, a frumpy housewife makes a pact with a stranger, an old lady starts making her own decisions and a family secret finally explodes on an extraordinary night of mulled wine, fire-eating and face-painting – the Last Anniversary.
It happens sometimes that you accidentally star in a little public performance, your very own comedy, tragedy or melodrama.
The three Kettle sisters have been accidentally starring in public performances all their lives, affecting their audiences in more ways than they’ll ever know. This time, however, they give a particularly spectacular show when a raucous, champagne-soaked birthday dinner ends in a violent argument and an emergency dash to the hospital.
So who started it this time? Was it Cat: full of angry, hurt passion dating back to the ‘Night of the Spaghetti’? Was it Lyn: serenely successful, at least on the outside? Or was it Gemma: quirky, dreamy and unable to keep a secret, except for the most important one of all? Whoever the culprit, their lives will have all changed dramatically before the next inevitable clash of shared genes and shared childhoods.
‘This is madness! I’m supposed to be an editor not a gushing fan. I’m supposed to work when I read a manuscript, not sit back and have the time of my life!’ – JULIA STILES, FREELANCE COPY-EDITOR
‘A compelling story. Once you’ve started this, you won’t want to put it down until you have all the answers.’ – CLEO
Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty / Thrillers & Crime have rating 5.2 out of 5 / Based on83 votes