Over the past four years writing has become more and more important in my life. It has taken my work as a photographer into the realms of expressing what I see and imagine with words, and not just with pictures. Photography lends itself to the visual direction in my writing. Now, when I see a scene in my mind, it is through the lens of a camera, that stop in action moment that allows me to describe each element in a scene.
Granted, this did not come over night. In fact, I find myself revisiting work from previous years and doing complete do overs in the descriptive scenes or throwing them out entirely. Each year, each month, brings improvement in the scenes described in a story, character building, and flow of the book. This could go on indefinitely! But in the meantime, there is hope that something gets noticed and published and others outside of the writing group I am in will see my stories.
This blog has been sporadic over the past few years. In this coming new year I hope to publish more. One of the things I want to blog about, and thank you Peggy Konert for this suggestion, are reviews of books. The first one I want to share with you is “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty. As the work within the writer’s group entails both praise and critique for improvement, I have approached this one in the same way.
A novel titled The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty, birthed a considerable inspiration in my own writing on how to utilize a character’s inner thoughts, write from each character’s perspective, and build suspense to keep a reader engaged.
It is the story of several key characters, set in Melbourne and Sidney, about a man’s secret held close for decades until his wife finds a letter addressed, “To my wife, in case of my death.” The contents of the letter are intriguing but not the focus of this review. Three of the key characters are not involved with the man’s secret but play alongside his story throughout the book and hold their own place with great tension and success.
Will and Tess live in Melbourne with their young son Liam. In partnership with Tess’ cousin Felicity, they run a small out of the home marketing business. Tess and Felicity have been best friends since birth—their mother’s are sisters.
One day, Felicity and Will sit down for a weekly update meeting with Tess to go over the week’s focus. Before the meeting starts Will and Felicity tell Tess that they have fallen in love, and over the course of the discussion the possibility that they could all remain living together is mentioned. They inform her that they have not had sex, as they felt it was too much of a betrayal without Tess knowing what was going on with the two of them.
Tess takes Liam to Sidney to stay with her mom, who has just broken her ankle and needs the help anyway, giving Tess a reason to leave without letting people know what is going on. Tess is slowly introduced to the other characters in the story and the reader finds the connections of these characters to each other quite believable. Tess becomes involved with an old boyfriend and she begins to question herself and what she believed she felt for her husband, and whether she was indeed in love with him. Her connection to the wife of the man with the secret and the secretary at the school she enrolls her son in, play together expertly and keep you reading way past the time your eyes are saying go to sleep!
One element that really stood out in the reading was the compassion Tess expressed for Felicity and Will, and her ability to look at the situation through her heart. She loved her cousin so much, and held such empathy for her husband, and viewed the situation through her own actions in Sidney, and she went with an unconditional love approach to the heart breaking revelations. How each character in the story deals with their own emotional struggles with others is handled beautifully and leaves the reader with a sense of satisfaction and spiritual uplifting.
What this book did for me was multi-fold:
- It fortified my belief that my approach to how a character in one of my stories comes to grips with her husband’s desire for other women is believable.
- The style of writing Moriarty carries throughout the book of revealing the characters’ thinking to bring out all of the emotions and responses, inspired me with what I can add to my writing to make it even stronger.
- That the flow of a story is one of the most important elements in a book. Once you have a reader hooked, do not let that tension falter but build until the climatic ending.
- And, that even a published author with wonderful books can improve in their writing (which is great encouragement for beginners in the art).
- For example, she has the wife of the man with the secret opening the letter to read it and then leaves the reader hanging for two chapters to read about the other characters before allowing the reader to read the letter! I jumped ahead and then went back.
- A timeline gets confused and the author says “yesterday” when the story actually had the situation happen two days earlier. This is a hazard of rewrites and deleting scenes.
- She added after the final chapter a “what if” section, letting folks in on things not mentioned or hinted at in the book. One example, the paternity of a baby, which had never been brought up in the book as a possibility. Totally took away the exhilarating tension of the book and how she worked out the storyline. This reminded me of the epilogue in one of my stories that opened up so many cans of worms after ending it with what finally became the final chapter. Linda, another wonderful writer in our group, said my epilogue took the reader out of a good ending and created discomfort at the future stories introduced. She actually wrinkled her brow in distress as I read the epilogue to the group. So I ignored the ‘what if’ section of The Husband’s Secret, and settled on the ending I preferred. It reinforced what Rebecca, a writing teacher in our group, loves to do, cut the last part out!