The Life of Bon: Bon's Book Club: The Husband's Secret

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bon's Book Club: The Husband's Secret



Alright ladies!  BOOK CLUB TIME!  This is a LINK UP so if you did your own post make sure to link it up.  I have this dream of having a huge online book club for all like minded women who love to read and discuss literature.  Imagine the possibilities!  Oh, and if you are writing your own post please slap the above picture on it somewhere.  Grazi!

January's book was The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary.  Here are the questions that I posed to you last night:



+ The book is told from the viewpoint of three women.  Which women did you like the most and why?  Whom did you dislike the most and why?

+ What would you have done if you had found out the secret that Celia did?  Did you agree with the way she handled it?  What is the "right" thing to do in a situation like that?


+ What was the point of the side story with Tess?  Do you excuse the way she acted during that week because of the uncertainty in her marriage?


+ Do you believe the bike accident was adequate "penance" for what John Paul had done?


+ Did you like the resolution of the book?  Did you feel there was enough closure?


CHARACTERS:
Let's start with Tess.  Oh, I hated Tess.  The least likeable character in the book by far for me.  I did not understand at all why Mortiary even put that whole little side story in with Tess and Felicity and Will.  It didn't have anything to do with the main plot of the story, and I felt like it dragged the book big time.  I really disagreed with the way Tess handled everything and I feel like there were a lot of inconsistencies in her character.  As soon as Will says that he's in love with Felicity she just high tails it out of there and says, "Fine! Sleep together!" which was so weird to me.  Why wouldn't you fight for your marriage?  She totally abandons him, and then blames him for everything that is wrong with their marriage.

Oh, yah and then she sleeps with her ex boyfriend (whom she doesn't even remember at first!) MORE THAN ONCE, enjoys it, is slightly infatuated by him, and then practically acts annoyed with her husband when he wants to reconcile.  Oh, AND THEN she never tells her husband that she slept with someone else.  I could not believe this and was really just turned off by Tess as a character.  By the end I didn't care what happened to her, I didn't want her to enjoy happiness, I just wanted her out of the book.  I feel bad for Will that he's married to a cheat and a liar, and I feel so bad for Connor that she basically used him for pleasure.  Connor was actually one of my favorite characters in the book and he was just pretty much used by everyone around him.  No wonder he needs therapy.

OH! And the real kicker is that at the end it says that Tess has a baby that was conceived the week she slept with both Connor and Will and she just always keeps it her little secret that the kid looks just like Connor.  This was almost enough to make me not like the book at all- it seemed so flippant like this was some kind of happy resolution for everyone.  And there's Connor getting screwed again- poor guy doesn't even know he has a kid out there in the world. I seriously felt so bad for him.

I also hated the way Tess viewed her marriage.  Like it was an absolute chore and a drudgery to her.  One of the nights she sleeps with Connor she goes out on a motorcycle ride with him and it says, "no matter how badly it hurt, she didn't want to be home in Melbourne, baking and watching television and doing invoices.  She wanted to be right here, soaring along on this bike, her heart thumping, letting her know she was alive."  I just hate the way this portrayed marriage in general, like the better option was always to be the back of a dirt bike with some total stranger. 

Rachel: She was only slightly more likeable to me than Tess, but I hated how obsessed she was over her daughter's death that had happened 25 years ago.  I get that it was an unsolved murder or what not, but 25 years?!?  She didn't seem to mourn the passing of her husband at all, only focused on her daughter.  Also, I hated the way she treated her son and daughter in law.  Here she was a living child, and she is a total brat to him.  I feel like she had totally wasted her entire life in mourning the loss of her daughter and wasn't able to see any of the goodness right here and now in her life.

Celia:  Here, to me, was the strength of the novel.  I loved almost everything about Celia.  I loved her attention to detail, her quirkiness, that she sells freaking tupperware for a living and makes a killing off of it.  I thought Mortiary really excelled with Celia in developing a complicated, lifelike, and extremely likeable character.  I especially loved how she chatted nonstop when she was nervous and always bugged people with her insistence.  Such a great, real character to me.

As far as the main predicament of the book- Celia finds out that her husband committed murder 25 years ago- I LOVED it.  I loved the way she reacted to it, the way she tried to come to terms with it, how she withdrew from her husband but at the same time couldn't leave him.  I have no idea how I would react in a situation like this, but I love that the book made me consider several possibilities.  It wasn't so far fetched that I felt like it could never really happen.  Honestly,  if Greg told me 25 years from now that he had killed a girl at age 17- that he never meant to kill her, that it happened before he could realize- I can understand doing what Celia did.  What good would it do now to turn him in and where he had a family and kids who need him now...  But then at the same time it does feel so unjust to leave that poor woman, Rachel, not knowing for all those years, haunted by the unknown.  Also is unfair to Connor who deals with feelings of guilt all those years after even though he never did a thing to the girl.  (Again, Connor getting screwed over.) Such a good conflict- I love it!

Also, this is kind of random but WHAT was the point of all the talk of the Berlin wall?  I feel like it was supposed to be some recurring symbol or whatever in the book, but whatever it was Mortiary was trying to say did not come across very well.  I got so tired of the Berlin wall talk and other the "small talk" in the book.  A lot of the times I felt like the pacing of the book was slow because of long, tiresome details and conversations between characters that did not play into the plot.

Alright, there's more I could say, but I am going to be done for now.  I'm excited to see the points you bring up and I am hoping for an energetic, lively discussion in the comments.  If you did your own post on the book make sure to link up!!!

The book for February is I am Malala by Mala Yousafzai.  We will be discussing it on February 27.  Be there!

53 comments:

  1. At first I didn't think the writing was very good, but as I got into the plot either it got better or I was to involved in the story to notice :)

    To me the most heart breaking part of the story was the little bit of info in the denouement that her health condition turned a moment of his weakness into a murder. That if if had been anyone else, he wouldn't have killed her.

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    1. I agree. Definitely the saddest part of the book for me.

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    2. See, that part, for me, was somewhat irritating. I felt like it was "gotcha" moment. Like, Haha! You blamed yourself for killing her, but she really just had something wrong with her! I felt like it cheapened her death and all the consequences that came from that event.

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  2. My thoughts:

    Honestly, the epilogue made the entire book for me. Especially the part Kimberly mentioned above about the health condition that actually killed her. So much brilliantly unfortunate and misconstrued pain. I honestly don't know why that made me so engrossed in the book.

    I hated Rachel. She was my least favorite. What a waste of her life. I'm so glad she told Ceclia about how she was trying to run over Conner, though.

    I had a soft spot for Tess, if only for one line her mother tells her: She says that we are human, and humans are made to be attracted to each other. People make dumb mistakes. Now, I don't think that JUSTIFIES anything, but it definitely was an interesting perspective that brought hope to me. There's lots of friends I have that I'm attracted to in some way or another. But the important thing is that I'm so incredibly happy and committed and in love with my fiancee. I would never actually do anything, but it helped take any unnecessary guilt - about loving a guy's laugh or checking out a different guy's arms or something - away for me, in my own context (especially because I wasn't crazy like Tess and run off and cheat and lie about it!).

    I loved Cecelia. I loved the questions this book asked about humanity and what would you do in this situation?

    I didn't like the writing at first either. I thought it was slow and I wouldn't like it. I definitely know that the story got to be so interesting that I just had to stick it out.

    All in all, I loved it.

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    1. Interesting that you are softer toward Tess than Rachel. I do love the quote you pointed out from Rachel, but I agree with you in that it doesn't excuse or justify her behavior. It also really bothered me that the mother seemed okay with it and years later she would exchange knowing glances with her mom that her kid looked more like Connor than Will... seemed very messed up. Glad you liked the book- I think overall I would have to say that I really liked it too.

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    2. Also: can we all remember that Rachel was late picking up her daughter the day she died BECAUSE she was flirting with another man out of spite? Ugh.

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    3. I, too, felt for Tess. I'm not sure I would say she was justified in her actions, but I actually didn't fault her at all for them. Her husband had just told her he was in love with another woman but wanted them to all live under the same roof. I mean, what?? How could she help but feel her marriage was certainly doomed from there?

      I agree about loving the way the author used Cecilia to push the reader to consider what they would do in her shoes, and how it ties in to humanity.

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  3. I totally agree with your conclusion about Rachel. I felt like she was just so stuck in the past that she couldn't live in the present. I understand she had a horrible thing happen to her but shouldn't that have made her feel more grateful for her life and live it to the fullest in memory of her daughter?

    While reading I didn't notice any of the things you said about Tess but now that I look back on it I can see where you are coming from. I don't really hate her but I don't think I particularly loved her.

    One problem I had with the book was the kind of pay back that Rachel seemed to get. It felt too much like and eye for and eye and that is not how life works. Just because someone killed your daughter does not mean that you will get to injure their's. I understand that she didn't do it intentionally but I felt like that was a problem in the plot because it felt too constructed to be real life.

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    1. Very interesting point! I didn't see it that way while I was reading it, but I can totally see what you mean. Like it all just got tied up so neatly for them- in it way I felt like the ending was almost too "easy" for me to really like it.

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  4. I can't read this post yet, because I am just about to start this book! I was wondering if, somewhere/somehow you could give your books a "content" rating when you start your reviews? I'm pretty picky about unnecessary explicit language and sex, and I hate nothing more than having to drop a book halfway through because I can't get over how naughty some books are. And there's never any way to know this info (that I know of) before starting a book! I dunno, just a thought that would help me out a ton. Thanks!

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    1. I don't remember if there's language, but there is sex, although I wouldn't necessarily call it explicit. It's an extramarital affair though, so if that bothers you...although now that I think back, I wouldn't call it 'unnecessary' either. I guess this is less helpful than you probably wanted ;) I just hate the idea of you getting halfway through and having to quit for the sex scenes.

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    2. There is some language. It does use the f word more than I cared for, but I can't remember enough to give you a ball park #.

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    3. I can totally give content reviews. I will try to remember that from now on. I would say that this falls between the PG-13 and R rating. There are a few sex scenes and talk of sex but the sex scenes are not explicit. There are several f words... maybe a dozen?

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    4. Thanks, guys!

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  5. What's with all the Rachel hate? It never dawned on me to hate her, I guess that's the point of a discussion huh. I didn't really like this book, but getting to 'discuss' it has COMPLETELY changed the way I think about it. And I forgot about the Berlin wall part- how random was that?!? You're absolutely right, whatever she was trying to say did NOT convey, at least to me. Thanks for hosting this!!

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    1. I didn't necessarily hate Rachel... she just felt like such a victim even 25 years later on. You can live very purposeful, happy lives even after such a tragedy but she just allowed herself to be completely consumed by that one event.

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  6. "I just hate the way this portrayed marriage in general, like the better option was always to be the back of a dirt bike with some total stranger."

    The new morals of what a marriage should look like, in the year 2000 and on.

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  7. I love this! I really liked the Tess story line. I never really connected that it wasn't an entirely necessary storyline. It's so fun to see all of these different points of view. Really makes you rethink your initial impression.

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    1. Right? It's not that I didn't like the Tess story line... it was at least interesting and who doesn't like a little romance? I just didn't understand why it was put in there.

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  8. I'm still on the waiting list from my library for this one, can't wait to read it!

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    1. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it!

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  9. Great pic. Loved your review. It's fun to read and compare everyone else's opinions! Looking forward to next months discussion

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    1. Me too! Did you read this month's?

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  10. I hated the ending, especially the epilogue. Life rarely gets tied up in a little neat bow. I did like however that this book made me think about the secrets we all hold. What if we let some of them out, would our world crumble like the Berlin Wall and become a better place for our souls? Or would we ruin other people's lives? I don't know the answer to the question but for making me think outside my own little piece of the world, this book gets my thumbs up.

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    1. I hated the epilogue too! Why tell us all that when we don't get to know the 'what ifs' in real life?!

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    2. Although the epilogue DID "tie up" some ends that I would have more enjoyed wondering about, I thought the epilogue focused more on the secrets no one knew, than what happened to the characters in the future. For example, the health issue that the girl who died had, or the tennis career Cecelia's daughter WOULD have had.

      I liked the "would have, ifs" instead of "what will come, ifs?"

      If that makes sense. I thought it was an interesting take on an epilogue.

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    3. I agree.. the ending really ruined the book for me. So many books (and movies and TV shows) put neat little bows on everything.. the whole eye for an eye thing was just a little too much for me. BUT I can handle that because I'm used to it. The part that really annoyed me was the epilogue when we heard all the things that no one would ever know.. why even bring those things up? That would've been an interesting idea for a book in itself - seeing the way lives could've turned out had things not happened - but adding it to the end didn't make sense in my mind. I wish I had skipped reading that part.

      Side note: I wasn't a huge fan of any of the women while reading (although, Bonnie, your description of Celia made me like her a lot more).

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    4. Oh I love this discussion on the epilogue. I enjoyed the descriptions of all the secrets because I feel like it made me think what secrets there may be in my life, or things I don't know that would have or could have altered my life in some way. Or did alter my life. At the same time, though, I totally understand the fact that we don't get to know these secrets in life so what's the point of knowing them for these characters? I actually loved that it was really her medical condition that ultimately caused her death and not JP. I did not love that Tess had another baby whose father is pretty much anyone's guess, as mentioned earlier. That really did ruin the book for me.

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    5. I hadn't even thought about the fact that letting go of our secrets would effect other people's lives. That is a good insight you gained from the book.

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    6. I'm glad I'm not the only one who disliked the epilogue. I think the ending would've been fine as it stood on its own.

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    7. Not sure if anyone is here still, but I wanted to thank you all for hopping onto this subject and discussing the epilogue.

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  11. loooved this book! As others stated, I didn't get into it right away. But once the story line began I couldn't put it down. My two cents about the Berlin Wall. I didn't really think much about it until I read some of these comments. But the more I think about it the more it makes sense. The Berlin Wall was a separation - secrets can separate people as well. But as the Berlin Wall came down - the secrets were out and you could either move on with life and or let your life crumble. I don't know - maybe I'm way off but that's sort of my thinking. Oh and yes, let's all hate on Rachel because I'm right there with ya on that one!! Overall I really enjoyed this book. I was actually talking to my husband about it this morning and it sparked a really intense conversation between the two of us - what would we do in these situations?!?!

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    1. Love your description of the importance of the Berlin Wall. I totally see where you are coming from, but I guess I still think it was a bit of a far fetched metaphor for Mortiary to put in. (I think you totally nailed your analysis, though, of what Mortiary's line of thinking was in including it). Love that you and your husband had an intense conversation about this!

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  12. I didn't get a chance to write a whole post about this book. But I read it along with you and LOVED IT - for the most part. I also disliked Tess in the story. I like how the other two's stories were connected, but it seemed forced with Tess & her ex boyfriend. I also agree with you about Celia. I loved her. I felt like I really understood more about her than the other two women. I had such a clear picture of her in my head.

    The epilogue was one of my favorite parts (which I don't normally say) because it continued with the "secrets" portion. It left my brain just wandering through endless possibilities of other things that could've sent the whole story in other directions.

    Thanks for choosing this book. Maybe in February, I will actually write a post about it :)

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    1. Yes! I agree completely with your assessment- Tess' side story seemed "forced." I would have loved to know more about Connor, was just completely uninterested in Tess as a person.

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  13. Interesting that you viewed it as Tess "abandoning" Will and that her marriage was portrayed in a negative light. I didnt see it that way at all. She was happy in her marriage and thought everything was going great and then she was betrayed by her husband and best friend. I didn't think it was crazy or unrealistic that she would want to get away ... probably because I didn't think she gave up on her marriage, I just saw it like she needed some space after hearing that so she left for awhile. I didn't feel bad for Will at all...he was willing to throw his marriage away for his wife's cousin as soon as sh got "hot" because he was having a midlife crisis? I felt the worst for Connor out of everyone in this book too - I'm glad he got a happy ending in the epilogue.

    Rachel ... I don't know. She was unecessarily mean to her DIL ... but I really don't know that I would ever be able to let go of the fact that my daughter was murdered ... but can we talk about the diary or whatever from the daughter's POV ... it seemes like she was gonna kill herself or something? I'd have to go back and reread it but I really thought the storyline was gonna be she wanted to commit suicide.

    & I guess the central issue -- what would I do if it was my husband and I found that out? God, I don't know. I think the most devastating part of the book (like other people have said) was finding out she died because of her medical condition.

    Overall I really liked it, read it quick, but there were definitely a few parts that I was like, what's the point of this? (i.e. - the Berlin Wall, whattt?)

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    1. My favorite part of the whole book was finding out that Conner ended up happy! He was my favorite character, I think.

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  14. I still can't decide if I loved or hated this book... I'm leaning towards hate. I thought it was long and repetitive, but then Ioved how it weaved and intertwined through the three stories. I loved the epilogue, but I'm totally a "what if" kind of person. That was actually my favorite part of the book. I kinda like when things tie up into a neat little bow. I also enjoyed Tess' part of the book the most. I am a sucker for romance though. I find it amusing that I enjoyed all of the parts that most everyone else really disliked. :)

    Thanks for putting together this Book Club, Bon. I look forward to joining in all year long!

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  15. At first I was very confused as Moriarty started to introduce all these characters that seemed totally unrelated to each other. I almost had to write character profiles so I could remember who was who. I wasn't willing to do that. The only thing that kept me reading was that it wanted to find out the secret. When I finally got to the secret and Celia's initial reaction, I put the book down and I was pretty much done reading. I told my husband about it and he convinced me to skip to the end to read the last page. So I did, though I couldn't have cared less about the conclusion. Thank the heavens that somehow I landed on the page explaining Celia's daughter's accident!

    I decided to continue reading and it got so much better after that! I grew to love Celia and detest Tess and grow annoyed at Rachel, just like you. Which was so strange because I usually avoid loud, busy people like Celia. I'm quiet and have social anxiety like Tess. I couldn't believe Tess would ever talk to Felicity again, though! Maybe I'm immature, but I would not be civil as Tess was to her.

    The Berlin Wall parts were so boring to me. I totally skipped the last couple.

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  16. I thought this was an easy and enjoyable read and I mostly agree with your character assessments, too. I did have a little more sympathy for Rachel, though. I also was wondering why she didn't seem nearly as upset about her husband's death, but the more I thought about it, the more I sort of convinced myself that A) the death of your child is obviously far more difficult to deal with, especially at such a young age, and B) as horrible as any death is, a murder (particularly an unsolved one) would totally occupy your thoughts. That, of course, shouldn't come at the expense of her very alive son, so I was pretty torn about her.

    The other thing I didn't like about the book was how obvious the "secret" was right away. I feel like it was obvious after having read the first three or so chapters! Despite predicting the secret, I couldn't really put the book down...and was very curious to see how the aftermath of the revelation would turn out. Great first choice!

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  18. Thanks for hosting - I'm so excited I got to participate!

    Thoughts on your post:
    I liked Tess at first and thought her attitude of "maybe if they sleep together they'll realize this was a mistake and then I'll have him back" was surprisingly well thought out. She intrigued me and I wanted more. Then she went prancing off with Connor on the back of his motorcycle and I lost interest. Her story line had such potential, but it got shoved to the side.
    "No wonder he needs therapy" - I laughed out loud. Agreed 100%.
    Also, agreed on the Berlin Wall. That added nothing for me, except confusion. It kind of felt like "hey readers I have this history knowledge too, let me throw it into the novel just to prove it!" rather than an important part of the plot.

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  19. i couldn't get into it , but i am defiantly going to try again ! :)

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  20. I kept getting annoyed at this book. The only character I liked was Celia. I think I liked her more when she was the go-getter tupperware saleslady, than when she was trying to digest the information about her husband.

    The other story lines seemed ridiculous and just so far from how I think anyone would really react. But then, I haven't been in those situations. If I was Tess, there is no way I would ever get back with such a whiny, selfish excuse for a man.

    I read this right after I read Defending Jacob by William Landay. That was fascinating, and somewhat similar in the theme. The contrast of the Landay one with this one didn't do it any favors.

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  21. I actually did get into this book right away. Maybe it's because I haven't read any modern popular fiction in a long time, but I really enjoyed this and getting to discuss it with others? My favorite! I really like seeing everyone's points of view and interpretations; it made me reconsider my own opinions several times. In fact, I was sort of neutral towards Rachel until I read your thoughts and realized she was pretty whiny and ungrateful of what she did have in her life.

    Looking forward to next month!

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  23. I completely blanked on this! I was so excited and TOTALLY forgot! I have all of the books through May on their way to me (except Divergent)! Love this idea, Bon!

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  24. I was so excited to participate in book club and thought this book you chose sounded awesome. I was seriously disappointed in all the language and sex. I stopped reading. Can you try to put a rating or something to those of us that don't prefer reading trashy books? I mean, if this was a movie it would definitely be R rated. So it would be fabulous if you could let us know what we're getting into. Thanks! :)

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  25. okay, so I finally posted my own link for the discussion...here's a few blurbs. I noticed a lot of people didn't like the epilogue...I LOVED it. I'm not one of those people who enjoys coming up with endings for other people's stories so I loved how Moriarty did it for me. Secondly, I think the Berlin Wall may have been put in there for symbolic reasons....not sure if I'm hitting anywhere near Moriarty's intentions but it seems to explain it's purpose.

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  26. Just read this book. And . . . I didn't really like it. I think it was interesting how she wove all the character plot lines together, but at the same time, it made things a little too messy for me. Too many characters. Too much to keep up with.
    I agree that the Tess plot really had nothing to do with the rest of the story, and I definitely hate that she didn't own up to her side of the mistakes. How does she live with herself?!
    Rachel definitely needed to move on. I also really don't understand why she hated Lauren so much.
    Cecelia was definitely in a rough spot. I feel like I would forgive my husband for anything, even murder, if it happened like how it happened for John-Paul . . . but I don't know if I could forgive the hiding-it-for-25-years part. I would wonder too often what else he was hiding from me, what else I didn't know about him.
    Poor Connor.
    Weird book. How do people come up with such intricate twisted-ness?

    ashleynicoleholmes.blogspot.com

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  28. I literally JUST finished this book like 30 minutes ago and I agree with nearly everything you said I don't get why Tess was part of the story and I did feel bad for Connor. But really, I LOVED the book and tore through it

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