I’ve been on a bit of a Liane Moriarty binge at the moment, starting with Big Little Lies, then The Last Anniversary, followed by What Alice Forgot. The whole premise of this book is amazing and the subsequent story that unfolds very, very easy to plunge into and difficult to put down.
Alice Love wakes up from a nasty fall in her gym, one that leaves her badly concussed and with a substantial memory loss. In fact, Alice cannot recall the last ten years of her life – as far as she’s concerned, when she wakes up with worried folk bending over her, she’s twenty-nine years old, pregnant with her first child, and besotted with her husband.
Upon awakening, not only does he learn she has three children (whom are complete strangers to her), but she is divorcing her husband and even has a boyfriend. Practically estranged from the sister she was once close to, as Alice’s friends gather to console and help her, aghast and bemused by what’s happened, she starts to realise she doesn’t like some of these people who seem to know her so well, very much.
As the days unfold, Alice begins to learn it’s not only her immediate family and some friends who are foreign to her – the more she learns about the woman she’s become, processes the physical and psychological transformation she appears to have undergone, the more Alice understands the biggest stranger in her life is herself.
The book follows Alice’s journey as she stumbles through what she’s become, tries to reconcile the past ten years with the present and desperately tries to remember how and why she ended up in her present state – divorcing, apparently angry and quite brittle, and someone so different to the person she once was.
Brilliantly conceived and written, I was riveted to the page, wanting to desperately to see how the narrative would resolve itself, what choices Alice, who you both want to remember her past and pray she keep forgetting, makes. You can’t help but ask how you’d feel if the same thing happened? Disappointed in yourself, proud, discontent, regretful, ecstatic? What would you do differently if you could?
As much an exploration of maturation, choices, marriage and family and the various forces that seek to mould and, if we allow them, change us, this is also a romance novel of the best kind – one that plumbs the positives and negatives in all kinds of relationships – from that we have with the opposite and same sex, to that we struggle with as we try to love ourselves.
Witty, heart-wrenching, nail-biting and very clever, I dare you to be able to leave the page.