What Alice Forgot

what-alice-forgotLiane Moriarty is one of my guilty pleasure authors who writes books full of gossip and a lot of plot twists, so I was very excited when I was given one of her books, “What Alice Forgot”, for my birthday last month. I had previously read two books written by the Australian author and absolutely loved them so I wasted no time in diving into this one. Unfortunately “Alice” did not flow as quickly or smoothly as the others and I spent a month trudging through the 450 plus page book and after long last finally finished it yesterday. My theory is that “Alice” was not as good as other books by Moriarty because it was written earlier and she hadn’t yet fully come into her voice as a writer and that’s why it wasn’t as polished as her more recent books, just as one of my favorite authors JK Rowling noticeably improved her writing style as the Harry Potter series progressed. I don’t blame Moriarty for this though because that is just the way it is for a writer; the more you write, the better you will be at it. For those of you who wish to read this book, be warned that the following contains spoilers.

It took me longer than usual to get into “What Alice Forgot” because I could only read a little bit at a time. It starts off with Alice falling off her bike at the gym and hitting her head then waking up to find out she’s lost the last ten years of her memory. She thinks it’s 1998, she’s pregnant with her first child, and she is part of a loving marriage but the reality is quite different. It’s 2008, Alice is actually the mother of three children, her relationship with her sister has diminished to nothing more than formalities, and she and her husband are in the midst of a nasty divorce. It is all very depressing and I found myself struggling to continue reading each day but I persevered and it got better. During the period of memory loss Alice becomes a better and more understanding mother than she had apparently been and is desperate to get her husband back. She reconciles with her sister and mom and becomes the more carefree version of herself that existed in 1998 before she became the PTA mom volunteering for every school event and hosting lavish parties for parents at her home.

She and her husband actually did begin dating again but once she got her memory back she realized she had been a fool and that she could never be happy with him so they broke up again and that is how the book ended. Happy ending right? Luckily, there was an epilogue that showed Alice’s family a few years down the road. Alice was back together with her husband and they were happy, the kids were well adjusted and doing well except for the youngest who turned out to be a rebellious teenager, and her sister who had so much trouble getting pregnant had a little baby girl. The epilogue gave a happy ending that the actual book did not and to me it seemed like the easy way out. It’s almost as if the author couldn’t decide whether to give the book a happy ending or a tragic one so she did both and that didn’t sit very well with me. It’s nice that everything worked out in the end but it’s hard to connect the distance between the end of the book and the epilogue because Alice was so adamant that she couldn’t be happy with her husband anymore and then all of a sudden in the epilogue they were back together and happy because they shared a special look one day. That seems highly unlikely and quite ridiculous.

Overall I’m rating “What Alice Forgot” as 2 out of 5. It was an okay read with points being taken off for several things. It was much too long of a book for what it was and it dragged on for more than 450 pages. A long book is not a bad thing when it is justified in being that long but this was not. Liane Moriarty’s writing style has definitely involved and improved since writing this book but I am taking a point off for that because it made the long book seem even longer. The words didn’t flow as smoothly and the pages didn’t turn as quickly as they do when reading a good book. Lastly, I’m taking a point off for how she chose to end the book. As a writer you need to own the story and not worry about what the readers want rather than trying to pander to what makes them happy. All she had to do was end the book without the epilogue or replace the ending with the epilogue but keeping both was both cowardly and ridiculous. I personally would not recommend “What Alice Forgot” but that isn’t to say you shouldn’t read Liane Moriarty’s other work. I highly recommend “The Husbands Secret” and “Big Little Lies”, but leave “Alice” in its place on the bookstore shelf and don’t look back.

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