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What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot

by Liane Moriarty

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This had a great premise. This was the second book by this author I have read. I am not reading a third. ( )
  dara85 | Jul 18, 2015 |
This was alright. I'd read The Husband's Secret, and I thought this one was much better as it's dealing with a slightly smaller cast of characters. I liked "young" Alice from the off, and it was nice to be inside her head. The plot isn't terribly original but it putters along nicely and as I was reading this while I couldn't sleep, I wasn't in the mood for anything that was reinventing the wheel.

I think, for me, the key flaw was that we never really found out what the spark for Alice turning into a super-(obnoxious)-mum was. I understood that she changed over the course of having three children and doing the bulk of the heavy-lifting in terms of caring for them. I also understood that meeting Gina had an effect on her behaviour as regarded herself. However, I felt that none of this was really sufficiently explored. It's strongly implied and I think actually outright stated that Alice's behaviour around about the time of the birth of her third child is not much different from her behaviour as "young" Alice, and I can't see why the thing in the above spoiler would turn her into some kind of crazy obsessive mother. It's unclear how long her completely insane and unhealthy behaviour has been going on and why she would change from being a seemingly normal but flawed mother into a weird Stepford nightmare. I mean, Nick seems like a bit of a dick, but I kind of couldn't blame him for a lot of the stuff she cited as a problem. Like, why was he supposed to dump Mike as a friend after he cheated? Don't most people understand that when you're friends with someone and your spouse is also friends with them, and then you split up, the other person might feel a bit awkward? Like, Mike didn't do anything wrong to Nick. You can disagree with someone's actions and still be their friend! Also, regarding Gina's funeral - if Alice wanted him there so badly, why didn't she just put on her big girl pants and TELL HIM THAT?! She explicitly makes him feel like he shouldn't want to go, and then blames it on him. Similarly, Nick seems to go from a normal guy to a career nut with no explanation. Nothing in the way his character is explained to begin with indicates that he has any interest at all in his own career, then, BOOM, he's a CEO or something. What?! Alice is genuinely one of the most frustrating characters I've ever come across, and the worst of it is that I don't even understand how she became that way.

Regarding the ending it was rushed. I really didn't enjoy the way she gets all of her memories back, and, once again, I didn't really feel like it was necessarily a positive. Alice just seems like a horrible person to be around, and Gina also seems like a miserable, petty, irritant. I just disliked everything about "now" Alice, and I think my least favourite part was how Alice actually seemed proud of becoming a miserable spoilt bratty cow. I could go on and on and on about how, apart from Gina dying, none of her problems are actual problems that couldn't be solved without her TALKING ABOUT THEM IN A REASONABLE MANNER. Alice is just so much kinder, more understanding, more empathetic in her younger form. She hasn't learned anything over those ten years except how to be an awful human being and the worst thing is that she takes it out on her children. She is a genuinely awful mother.

On the children I really sympathised with Madison. She's bratty, yeah, but unlike her mother, she's a child and she's gone through a lot. I hated that Alice made her favouritism towards her other children, in particular Olivia, so clear. At least Madison seems real, even if she is annoying. The middle child might as well not be there for all the attention that gets paid to him - oh, he has dialogue, but god forbid anyone do anything but quickly acknowledge him and move on. Olivia is sickening and I wish she hadn't been in the book because every word out of her mouth made me want to vomit.

But I can't end this review without talking about Elisabeth. Oh, Elisabeth. I wish this novel had been about you. Yes, you were bratty and ill-tempered, and possibly moderately mad, but I Felt everything you felt, and understood everything that you were going through, despite never having been there myself. Your pain was so visceral and real and I couldn't have been happier when you got the ending you deserved; although in some ways I think the braver narrative choice would have been to have her remain infertile, I couldn't begrudge the only real-seeming adult character happiness.

No more Liane Moriarty for me, which is a shame, because she can write. It's just a pity the vast majority of her characters are completely vacuous and insufferable. ( )
1 vote humblewomble | Jul 14, 2015 |
An amazing book dealing with a familiar subject, amnesia, in a new way. Alice was exercising at the gym and fell, hitting her head on the hard tile floor. When she woke, ten years of her life had been erased from her memory. The ten years during which her three children were born and her marriage fell apart. How does she begin to deal with a new life that she does not even recognize? A fascinating story, kept me interested and eager to see what happens. ( )
  FancyHorse | Jul 9, 2015 |
This book was great! Very fast moving and keeps you wanting to read more! ( )
  Colleen.OP | Jun 8, 2015 |
Not a bad read, but not quite as good as The Husband's Secret, her most recent novel.

It's about a young woman, Alice, on the verge of turning 40, who has an accident at her gym and manages to lose ten years worth of memories. In her head, it is 1998, she's 29, newly married, and pregnant with her first child. But in reality, she is 39, has three children, and embroiled in a nasty custody dispute with her husband whom she is divorcing. During the course of the novel, Alice is able to see her current reality from the perspectives of those she's estranged from, including an older sister struggling to have a baby, and her honorary grandmother living in a retirement home.

The writer has a distinct narrative style that could be disorienting for readers. The characters talk and think in a stream-of-consciousness style, with rambling monologues. Often jumping off topic. This can at times come across as repetitive and frustrating - since it takes a while to get to the point. Reading this book can feel a bit like talking to someone who likes to jump tracks or topics every five minutes, with no connection between them. The dialogue is similar - people change the topics, or talk at each other - rarely is there a clear exchange of information. Readers who are used to a clearer, more direct narrative style may become frustrated early on and give up.

In addition, much like the last novel, there are three points of view. Except two are in first person close, while the main point of view is third person close. Alice's point of view is in third person, interspersed throughout are journal entries by her sister to the sister's therapist, and letters from the honorary granny to Phil. While these other perspectives are informative, they can also be a bit repetitive at times not to mention distracting and as a result detract from the plot.
That said, both serve a clear purpose - Elizabeth's entries about her difficulties getting pregnant to the point that she has become insanely obsessed with it - highlight how 39 year old Alice has taken her children for granted. While Frannie's entries to an old and long gone fiancée, highlight how Alice has taken her relationship with Nick for granted. Both state periodically, and somewhat judgmentally, how lucky Alice is.

As she unravels what happened in the last ten years - the period of time she could not remember - Alice discovers that she became somewhat hard and not all that likable. Her husband hates her on sight. His family can't stand to be in the same room with her. Her sister is barely speaking to her.
Her eldest daughter has become a behavior problem and they are not getting along. And she was apparently absorbed and obsessed with someone named Gina. Who is Gina? Why was she so integral to Alice's life and why does it seem all roads lead back to her? How did she become this way? How did her happy marriage go off the rails? And what can she do to fix it?

At its root - the novel is a story about a marriage, how it went awry, and the various misunderstandings and disagreements. Alice's memory loss is never quite explained, although it appeared to me to be psychosomatic in nature, since she resists the memories when they first start to pop up. Nor is it really the focus of the novel, so much as what went wrong with the marriage and how Alice perceives her marriage as a 29 year old new mother, and as a cynical 39 year old mother with three young children, then later still as a worldly 49 year old mother of teenagers.

A good read, not a great one. Did a lot of skimming through it. Good airplane or train book.
( )
  cmlloyd67 | Jun 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (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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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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