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what alice forgot – liane moriarty

What Alice Forgot

I’ve had a bit of a dry reading spell lately as I’ve been so busy and tired. So I decided to look on my Wish List and just buy the first book that sounded interesting, but wouldn’t take too much brain power – just to see if I could re-ignite my reading passion.

I chose this, and hit the jackpot.

Alice Love couldn’t be happier. She is 29, madly in love with her husband Nick, and they’ve found the perfect house to buy for their new family. She’s 12 weeks pregnant with their first child, and everything about her life feels warm and amazing. It’s 1998 and they’re looking forward to the dawn of a new millennium.

We join Alice as she comes round, being bundled into an ambulance after a massive head injury. She’s concerned about the baby, and confused as to why she is in a gym. When she’s taken to hospital, everything gets more and more strange and confusing, until she suddenly finds out that it is in fact 2008 – and she’s just lost 10 years of her memory.

She is apparently now a constantly busy ‘supermum’ to 3 kids (who she has never met), and on the verge of divorce with her beloved Nick. She’s also not as close to her family – and her sister seems to resent her. How could this have happened? What could change in 10 years to make her life have veered so far off the route she felt like she was on just 10 minutes ago?

I have to admit, I haven’t read many Australian books – not through any conscious choice, I obviously just don’t really get to hear much about them.

Yes, this was chick-lit but it was extremely thought-provoking chick-lit. The character of Alice comes across very strongly – but it’s 28 year old Alice whose voice we hear, and the torment of her literally waking up to find that her madly-in-love-husband hasn’t just moved out, but seems to positively hate her is heart-wrenching.

There are chapters that intersperse Alice’s main narrative, to give additional overviews – her sister Elisabeth writes down her inner-most thoughts and feelings, filling in much of the decade that has passed, and then there are lighter blog entries from Alice’s grandmother, which throws another more mature perspective on events.

As I’ve been with my hubby for just just a few months over 10 years, that thought kept over-whelming me. What if it happened to him, and he woke up and couldn’t stand this older, tired, heavier me? Or if it was me, and I’d have to live through the pain of my nan and uncle dying all over again – and the fact that my gorgeous loving, bright, smart 4 year old daughter has turned into a sullen, spiteful, school-failing teenager. It’s hard enough living through it gradually, but an immediate transition would kill me!

I don’t think that the writing was particularly wonderful, but the characters were drawn very cleverly – with bits of story eked out slowly. Things that at first seemed surprising, were revealed further, little by little – and the pace was really good on this.  The feeling of confusion and devastation came across really well, and I found myself tearing up constantly – although the book wasn’t a downer at all – it had some great light moments.

A really clever premise, well executed – and with a great epilogue. It was a winner for me!

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