A wonderful story of secrets, families, hope, regret, relationships and the way in which the actions of past can impinge upon the present from Liane Moriarty. Set on an island (Scribbly Gum) in the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales, Australia, it centres around Sophie Honeywell, a sweet-natured woman who reflects upon her life and decides that because she is in her late thirties, single and childless, she may have made some huge mistakes, including letting the man who asked her to marry him, Thomas Gordon, get away years earlier.
When she is left an extraordinary bequest by Thomas’ Aunt Connie, one that sees her relocating to Scribbly Gum Island and becoming part of the commercial enterprise that is the Munro Baby mystery – a mystery that harkens back to the 1930s when two residents of the island, Alice and Jack Munro dramatically disappeared, leaving behind a baby which the then island residents, Alice and Connie, raised as their own – she is flung back into Thomas’ life and that of his rather eccentric family. Befriending them all over again, Sophie is forced to reassess her life and her opinions of those who both seek to include her in the Munro baby enterprise but also those who feel that as an outsider, she has no right to be on the island and upsetting the status quo.
The longer Sophie stays, the more she begins to understand herself, what she wants from life and the “enigma” that is the Munro mystery.
While this book doesn’t quite have the sophisticated plot and characterisation of Big Little Lies, it is a delightful, light-hearted examination of people and the way we form and maintain or break relationships as well as how decisions made on the spur of the moment can have a huge impact upon the future. Often funny, moving and with a serious side, it’s an easy read and a great way to pass the time. Moriarty paints the characters so well, even the minor ones are three-dimensional and, just like real people, can be alternately annoying, fascinating and adorable. I read this while on holidays and reluctantly tore myself from it. While some of the narrative is predictable, there is a marvellous twist at the end that I never saw coming and found eminently satisfying. Another good read from a simply fabulous writer.