In Sickness and In Health

For much of this week, I have been battling what can only be described as the worst illness to ever take up residence in my  body. On day one, I felt bad. On day four, it was as if someone placed me in the middle of the road overnight and allowed a truck to repeatedly drive over my body. Since my husband is the only one in our house strong enough to accomplish this task, I’m highly suspicious. Maybe one day, I’ll find a letter hidden away with his confession to this unthinkable act.

Dear Christie – If you’re reading this, I am dead. Remember how sick you were that week in 2014? I was constantly walking behind you picking up the tissues and medicine bottles you left behind. Your nose was so stuffed up that you snored incessantly all night for days, and I was unable to sleep. You used my perfectly germ free pillow to lay on because your five other pillows just weren’t quite enough. Well, I just snapped. I made sure you were sound asleep from the medication you downed like it was your job, picked you up, laid you in the middle of the road, and allowed trucks to continuously run you over. I’m sorry. 

Okay, I know that didn’t really happen, but if it did, and I were to discover my husband was capable of something so completely out of character to the person I knew him to be, it would feel much like what I imagine being run over by a truck feels like. I knew the secret of the letter was close to being revealed, and I approached it with both excitement and dread. I wanted to know and yet I did not.

Why wouldn’t I want to know? At about chapter 10, I guessed the contents of the letter. I’m not sure why it occurred to me except that I’m obsessed with trying to figure out plots in advance. It makes my husband crazy when we watch movies together.

Ryan: “You’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen, aren’t you?”

Me: “Yes, I think I’ve got it. Want to know?”

Ryan: “No! Why do you do that? Now, I have to sit over here watching this movie knowing that every time something happens, you are smugly thinking, ‘I knew it.’ The move is ruined.”

Spoiler Alert: If you aren’t caught up and have no desire to know the contents of the letter, you should stop reading this now. ***That was really exciting to write. I feel like an Entertainment Weekly reviewer for the Bachelor not wanting to reveal to the viewers which girl will cry because her “journey” was cut short this week. Yes, I’m making fun of that show and yes, I clearly watch it.***

Back to chapter 10… At this point in the book, I didn’t care that John Paul had killed Janie. He was traveling and had no real interaction with the other characters. I only knew him through Cecilia and it was hard to determine if the thoughts she had of him where out of truth or those made up by someone obsessing over the one thing in her life she had no control over. That letter.

Then he came home. I read the entire chapter of them in bed, and I instantly liked him. I enjoyed their easy conversation. The way he turned into a possessive father at the thought of someone whistling at his daughter. His awareness of how hot his wife looked in her “netball skirt.” Even the knowledge of him yelling “far…out” at that particularly unusual moment was endearing. In the chapters after that scene leading up to the actual reading of the letter, I continued to ask myself, “Could he have killed Janie? Did I get it all wrong? Was I right, but maybe it was somehow an accident?”

Then I read the letter, and I was devastated, but here is how I know I’m reading a great book by an author who knows how to write complex characters. I still find myself liking him. I’m rooting for Rachel to get her closure on the death of her daughter and somehow still see Cecilia, John Paul and their girls live happily ever after. I fear I might be disappointed.

So much to discuss. Here are some questions to get us started:

A pic of healthier times when the weather was warm and the pool was an option.

A pic of healthier times when the weather was warm and the pool was an option.

What were some of your favorite lines from these chapters? I loved when Cecilia thought about not just setting up, but leading, the Prisoner’s Wives Association. She imagined chatting with the other wives while they waited to go through the metal detectors. “What’s your husband in for? Oh, bank robbery? Really? Mine’s in for murder. Yep, strangled a girl. Off to the gym after this, are you?

Did you guess what was in the letter before you read it?

Do you feel the same as me about John Paul or am I the only sucker who wants everyone to get their happy ending?

What did you think about the other plot points in these chapters? I found them slightly overshadowed by the big reveal.

Next week, let’s read through Chapter 40. Also, I would like to begin thinking about our next book. Start jotting down your ideas and in the coming weeks, I’ll ask for suggestions. Thanks for continuing to follow! I look forward to your comments!

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10 Responses to In Sickness and In Health

  1. caroline Jan 31, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    I had read other reviews where people said they guessed what the letter was….and generally I’m good at that sort of thing but I was totally blindsided. Totally. Having said that….I don’t know that my opinion of him changed at all. Like you said he was sort of a non-entity…and now with this new knowledge I don’t like or dislike him more or less…not sure why. Anyway – great book!

  2. Tracy Jan 31, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Oh my goodness! I couldn’t wait for today to read everyone’s reactions and to read on! I have wanted to keep reading, but I am a rule follower and have kept to the assigned readings. I’m usually pretty good about figuring out plots ahead of time, but like Caroline, I was flabbergasted! Both at the contents of the letter and that I hadn’t given it a thought. I was thinking “No!” and “Of course!” simultaneously. I loved reading that chapter. I was surprised she was so bold to go and read it at that moment knowing she’d get caught and/or have to explain why she had lied that she didn’t read it (and that she was completely naked!). I wasn’t expecting the truth to come out right then. One of my favorite lines was also the Prisoner’s Wives Association. I found the absurdity of it humorous and that she’d think of something like that at that moment but also that she recognized her personality in the midst of crisis. I too feel like I got to know John Paul. I think it made me feel more sorry for Cecilia and the girls than for him though. I’m very curious about what’s going to happen between Tess, Connor, and Rachel. Loving the book!

  3. Liz Jan 31, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    I’ve read the whole book and actually have a friend coming by to pick it up today. My friend is from Australia so I think she will love it even more. So I won’t comment much except to say how awesome I think this book is. Couldn’t stop reading. The letter did blindside me too Caroline ^^, but once I read it I thought “How did I not see that coming?” Can’t wait to hear what the next book is but I don’t have any suggestions.

    • Lacey Jan 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      I have finished the book. So I’m so glad that the letter has now been read! I was totally shocked by the contents of the letter. I’m not sure what I expected honestly. I knew it was bad. But I guess I hadn’t put it together yet. In fact, after seeing Connor with Tess at the gas station in the chapter before, I thought Connor had actually killed Janie and that he was going to kill Tess at some point.
      However, I did anticipate something else that will be revealed at the end of the book.
      Regarding my reaction to John Paul, if I was Cecilia, I don’t think I would have let him go in with with Polly. The second the letter was read, I think I would have gone all “mother bear” on him and not let him near the kids until I had it figured out. I’m a little over protective that way!
      Can’t wait for you all to read the next 20 chapters! It’s good! 🙂

  4. Jen Jan 31, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    Like Christie, I too guessed somewhere around Chapter 10 what was in J-P’s letter. Even though I had a feeling, I was still surprised when I read it. I agree that by that point we knew him and I liked him. I also was so thrilled for Rachel when she had such a blast at the Tupperware party. Just when she had a fun, social night out (“it would be great if her carrots stayed crunchier for longer!”), her world is about to turn upside down again. So excited that we are picking up the pace and can’t wait to get started on the next 20 chapter! (I’m a rule follower just like Tracy).

  5. Nancy Jan 31, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Moriarty is a very talented author and great at developing complex characters that you have strong feelings for—one way or another! I am in the process of reading a third book by her! I was torn about how I felt towards John Paul and yet, (I’m ashamed to admit this) but there were times I was torn about how I felt towards Janie’s mom (oops, forgot her name). It’s horrible to say, I know, I certainly don’t think I could go on if I lost my child…but at the same time I thought how sad it was that she didn’t move on – it didn’t seem like she was there for her son. I know this happens when tragedy like that occurs, but it just seems like adding insult to injury. Am I really the only one who felt that way? Does that make me a bad person? Oh, and I did think JP was a little selfish making sure he got some ‘lovin’ from Cecilia before asking for the letter!
    There’s a book by Donna Tart called The Goldfinch…I read a book by her years ago (called A Secret Historyand couldn’t put it down)…just an idea–I’m up for anything.

  6. Kathy
    Kathy Feb 2, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    I guessed what was in the letter, too, but was still in shock when we got to FINALLY read it!! I can so relate to the emotion that is opened within us when we become parents. Our reactions to almost everything comes from a new perspective. If Polly had not woken on that night thought, it would have been hard not to view JP as a monster even with his history as a wonderful father. Brilliant writing. Meanwhile, Rachel is finally feeling like living again because of her wonderful Tupperware party consultant, and then she stumbles upon some video that stirs her up! Torn – but I think I want her to have peace more than I want Polly, Esther, and Isabel to keep their dad. Besides, indirectly wouldn’t they feel the effects of their parents living in the prison of knowing the truth???!

  7. mssacksMeg Feb 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I figured out what was in the letter, I too am a movie plot figure-outer and ruiner, and it was the only thing that made sense in the context of the story. I am glad the characters all fit together now. I am sad for Rachel but also sad for JP’s children. Because emotionally he doesn’t seem like what we would think a murderer to be. then I wonder, if that was my husband, would I immediately go to the police? how would i even want him around my children? so complicated!

  8. christiejmb Feb 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Thanks for all of the comments so far this week! I really do love reading every single one!

  9. Dawn Feb 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Favorite line was in Ch 13. “For God’s sake, what’s the holdup? Have your revolting little affair and the give my husband back.” Tess tells Felicity this. Felicity is trying to make feel bad. Yet they stilled carried on a civil conversation. Did not see the contents of the letter. I knew it was going to be bad. No one even suspected John Paul. Rachel thinks it was Connor.

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