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What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot

by Liane Moriarty

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1,5481384,742 (3.92)48
  1. 10
    Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Told with humor, these two charming, character-driven novels share the stories of women who awaken from comas with amnesia, which has caused them to forget years of their lives. Faced with the unfamiliar, they must evaluate the choices they've made.… (more)
  2. 00
    The Bookseller: A Novel by Cynthia Swanson (Micheller7)

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» See also 48 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
Liane Moriarty writes stories mixed with humor and irony. I have read two of her novels and I thoroughly enjoyed Big Little Lies. What Alice Forgot does not provide the laugh found in Big Little Lies, but the light-heartedness remains. Alice bumps her head and loses the memory of ten years of her life. The journey to regain those ten years provides Alice with a bitter look at the current Alice and gives Alice an opportunity to rectify her mistakes. What a wonderful chance, but the story drags in many chapters. The chapters alternate between Alice, her sister, and her adopted grandmother. The sister, writes painfully to her therapist about her inability to have a child and the grandmother writes a blog about Alice. In a sense, the sister’s and grandmother’s voices follow an epistolary novel format reminding me of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. They might also be used as a Greek chorus to explain the events of the story. The novel ends abruptly with many years elapsed in which the reader misses the “rest of the story”. ( )
  delphimo | Jul 15, 2016 |
I am on page 106, and yet feel compelled to write a review now.

The book starts out well, but you get the feeling as you read further that the author is clutching at sentences to pad this book out, as the plot thins. The amount of body shaming in it is mortifying. For example:

(while Alice is looking at her sister Elizabeth)
"Alice caught a glimpse of her skirt pulling unflatteringly across her stomach and quickly looked away; it made her want to cry."

"It was something you were meant to say to your girlfriends at regular intervals to show you were a proper woman: 'Oh God, I'm so fat!' "
REALLY? Is that what a proper woman does?!

The whole book is littered with references to Alice's formerly perky breasts (after 3 children) and flabby body.

I really enjoyed Little Big Lies, so I'm assuming the author has honed her craft in 4 years, but I'm not sure how much of this book I'm going to read. The only thing keeping me going is wanting to find out about the big incident in her life she can't remember. ( )
  littlel | Jul 14, 2016 |
Probably not the wisest choice after "before I go to sleep" as they are a bit similar. Also not the best choice when I read "the husbands secret" by the same author recently as well. However I did enjoy it. I do think she is a talented writer and I am reading another book by the same author so count me a keen fan. ( )
  Felicity-Smith | May 29, 2016 |
Miroslav Volf raises the idea of intentional forgetting as a part of reconciliation. This story explores that idea as well; how might relationship be reconciled if we could forget that which created separation? I also liked the exploration of how life proceeds in ways we do not imagine. What would our 30 year old selves think of our 40 or 50 year old selves? What might the ages have to share with each other? ( )
  lgaikwad | May 24, 2016 |
My neighbor invited me to join a new book club, and while I'm skeptical of book clubs I really like my neighbor and would like to spend more time with her and other women readers. The first book chosen was this one by Liane Moriarty, whose name I've seen often in my twitter stream and blog wanderings, but whom I've never read.

I've seen Moriarty's books variously described as mysteries or contemporaries with a twist. They usually focus on a group of women (sisters or friends) and their domestic lives: marriage, children, running a household, etc., from what I understand. It's not my usual choice but I was more than willing to read it if that was the book club book.

This is an amnesia plot. Alice, our main POV character, knocks herself out during a spinning class and when she comes to, she thinks she's a 29 year old pregnant woman who is happily married to Nick. She's shy, a bit scattered, and unfashionable. But she soon discovers that it's ten years later in her life and she's a thin, Type-A Yummy Mummy about to turn 40. Oh, and she has three children and is involved in nasty divorce proceedings with the now-horrible Nick.

Alice struggles to make sense of the way she feels v. the way she seems to live now. She remembers nothing of her current life and she can't understand why she's estranged from her sister Elisabeth, why she and Nick apparently hate each other, and why she is so good at wearing lovely clothes and perfect makeup. And what happened to their fixer-upper house which is now a showplace with a pool?

This is a great setup. I often enjoy amnesia plots and Alice has a chance for a do-over, if she can get a handle on what happened. And she eventually does. Much of the disconnect revolves around Gina, who was as important to her as her family, but whose name everyone tiptoes around in conversation.

But while the book started out strongly, it faded fast for me.

The first problem was the writing style. Moriarty has this breezy, stream of consciousness style, which got old fast. So many words for so little action or introspection. Alice is going through major emotional upheaval, but it doesn't really come through in the writing. Think Lifetime Movies. And Moriarty reverts to the time-honored epistolary technique to convey information through not one but two POV characters. But these letters aren't seen by anyone else, let alone responded to, during the book. So they serve more as infodumps that break up Alice's narrative.

The second problem was that there's not much in the way of story, whether you're looking for plot or characterization. Alice is confused; young Alice is more appealing than middle-aged Alice but we don't know what happened to middle-aged Alice until the very end. Nick is sweet in the past and a workaholic, disengaged father now, but in neither period do we have a sense of what makes him tick. Gina is pivotal but the big reveal is a damp squib. The children have the potential to be interesting but only the eldest gets much complexity and even that is predictable.

The third problem is partly a Me Problem and partly a Book Problem. The women and community Moriarty write about are the Affluent Mom world, one which I have no interest in, and she's not a good enough writer to bridge that gap and make the characters and context resonate for me. The novel is centrally concerned with infertility and motherhood, with a secondary interest in the marital and household problems of privileged white women. All these things are described in far more detail than the interior lives or other external aspects of any of the characters. The adults have careers, but we barely understand what they are. The children have talent, we're told that, but it doesn't help us understand them as people. Everything is just very superficial. I've read plenty of books about people I don't understand or relate to but who become very real to me. That didn't happen here.

There is an epilogue which adds more icing to the confectionery cake, with maybe one surprise in it. HEAs all around. I was just relieved it was over. ( )
1 vote Sunita_p | May 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
Twenty-nine-year-old Alice Love is pregnant with her first child, adores her husband, Nick, and has never set foot inside a spinning studio. Thirty-nine-year-old Alice Love suffers a sudden fall in her Friday spin class, wakes up with a splitting headache, and finds out she has three children and is in the middle of custody proceedings. Without any concrete memories of the past 10 years, Alice tries to figure out how her free-spirited 29-year-old self became a volunteer-coordinating, spin-class-attending 39-year-old woman. What Alice Forgot is an often funny, sometimes heartrending, deeply personal portrait of a woman attempting to unravel her own mystery.
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She was floating, arms outspread, water lapping her body, breathing in a summery fragrance of salt and coconut.
Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It's light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But love after three children, after separation and near divorce - after you've hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other, after you've seen the worst and the best - well that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.
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Alice Love, having woken up on the gym floor and been rushed to the hospital with a head injury, believes she is twenty-nine, expecting her first baby, and madly in love with her husband, but, after realizing she has forgotten ten years of her life and is actually thirty-nine, she is forced to try and piece together what occurred over the past decade to result in her marriage and life not being as she had hoped it would be.
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Suffering an accident that causes her to forget the last ten years of her life, Alice is astonished to discover that she is thirty-nine years old, a mother of three children, and in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from a man she dearly loves.

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