3 June 2010

Review: WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty *****

Remember the woman you used to be ...
Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. What's more, she's looking forward to the birth of the 'Sultana' - her first baby.
But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her step-aerobics class and everyone's telling her she's misplaced the last ten years of her life.
In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she's his worst enemy. What's more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn't speaking to her either. And who is this 'Gina' everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?
Alice isn't sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn't have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband for ever?

I still cannot believe that I've actually and finally read this book! I've been waiting for this book *forever* - well, for almost a year! The first time I mentioned it was here and then again here, and in this time it kept getting postponed and the covers kept changing so I was starting to worry that this book will never actually come to be, but luckily it it's alive now, alive! I was beyond excited when my copy showed up and I started reading it the very next day and finished it in less than 24 hours - trust me, my expectations were very high and I certainly wasn't disappointed!

When we first encounter Alice, she's just waking up from a terrible fall and it seems that she's suffered a serious concussion, due to which she can't remember anything that's happened in the last 10 years. She's convinced that it's still 1998 and that she's happily married to Nick and expecting their first child, but she still learns that it's 2008, has three children (Madison, Tom and Olivia) she doesn't recognize, her once devoted husband seems to hate her and her sister Elisabeth looks completely miserable. She doesn't recognize her life at all and she feels like a 29-year-old trapped in her 39-year-old body. She's not the crazy busy and ruthless woman everyone takes her for, but she's once again the naive, easygoing and optimistic woman she used to be who refuses to accept the end of her marriage and is determined to fix everything ... But will she feel the same when her memory returns and she remembers everything she's been through?

The book paints a very realistic portrayal of life in the late 30s when the honeymoon stage is over and real life comes into play, and it's sort of frightening to read when you're in your mid-20s, hehe. I loved Alice's character when she was 29 and I felt like I could relate to her, but reading about her 39-year-old self felt like worlds apart. Anyway, the novel shows that even fairytales can go bad and that life in your 30s is bound to be completely different from what typically goes on in your 20s, eek! I think I now understand why most women panic when they turn 30 - goodness knows I'm in no hurry to lead that kind of life, heh.

The story itself is fantastic though - it's mostly told from Alice's perspective but in the third person (sounds confusing but it works). Due to Alice feeling like she's 29 again, the narrative voice is fresh and optimistic and occassionally quite funny, which is quite opposite Alice's current situation and it's a lovely contrast that makes the book less depressed than it could be, heh. This main narration is interrupted by some of diary entries, written by Alice's sister Elisabeth as a homework for her therapist. Elisabeth is struggling with fertility issues and while writing about her person problems, she also sheds some light on Alice's situation. Lastly, there are also some blog entries, written by Frannie, Alice's beloved great grandmother who's in a retirement home and dealing love problems of her own, heh. This may sound a tad confusing now, but I loved how the narrative voices changed from one to another, and they were easy to tell apart too, which is another plus.

I loved the character too - I felt they all had dimension and they felt so alive with their different personalities and each with a set of their own problems. I grew fond of each any every one of them - I shared their pain and cheered for them when they were happy.

As I said, I finished this read in less than 24 hours - I just couldn't put it down as I rushed to find out what happened to Alice and how it all ends. I'm happy to say that I wasn't disappointed and this really is a wonderful book - there's joy and there's heartbreak (and plenty of it) and everything is between, but that's what makes the story so real and touching. I absolutely loved it!

overall rating:
plot: 5/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5


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Alicia said...

I'm lusting after this book! But is it not out in the US? I searched on Amazon this morning and couldn't find it. Then I looked on Book Depository, but it wasn't this pretty cover :(

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

This one sounds so good! Thanks for the review!!

Luisa at Chicklish said...

Oh, I really want to read this! Thank you for the brilliant review.

Tina said...

I just finished this and enjoyed it immensely! Frannie's blog posts were cute and the comment section was hilarious.

Marie said...

I finally ordered this! I'm so excited, thanks! :)

Dot said...

Glad you enjoyed it, sounds like you have been waiting for it for a while!! I thought it was brilliant, made me think about things a lot!

This Miss Loves to Read said...

What a wonderful review! I have this book on my TBR list, so I'm glad it's a great novel.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome review! Ever since you introduced me to this book months ago, I've been wanting to read it.

I liked your observations.

Speaking as a 33 year old I must say, it's funny how I keep aging but I still feel 23 on the inside. I wonder if thats how it always goes :)

PS Don't worry! If you marry the right guy, the post-honeymoon stage is better than the honeymoon stage ;)

GABY said...

Sounds amazing!


Sounds really cool, I am so reading that book, can you tell me where you got that template and if you made it can you make one for me, I have been looking for a nice template!!! Do you think you could follow my blog????? I hope you will, the link is...

thnx soooo much!]xxx

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