Tag Archives: Liane Moriarty

‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ by Liane Moriarty

Can a health retreat really change your life forever?

Nine people gather at a remote resort in Australia. Some are there to lose weight, some are there to heal from grief, and some are there for reasons they are not even aware of themselves. Even though they are expecting some luxury and pampering, they also know that giving up some things might be necessary to reach their goals. However, none of them could ever have imagined how challenging it would actually be!! The novel felt to me like an old Agatha Christie mystery with all of the possible culprits assembled in the same hotel with some sinister event lurking just around the corner. Will it be Miss Scarlet in the gym with a rope? or will someone be found floating in the pool?

It’s hard for me to talk about this book without giving spoilers. If you are a Moriarty fan, (as I am) you will not want to miss it, even though it wasn’t my favourite. It does have her trademark mildly satirical sense of humour, this time taking on the wellness industry. My favourites of hers, so far, are The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies. I do always love Moriarty’s characters and enjoy reading her books, but I had hoped for a better plot line in this one. Though there is psychological suspense as the main twist is slowly revealed, it all seemed a bit too cheerful to be a thriller and too character driven to be a page-turner. The ending was mystifying and I want to talk about it when you’ve read it!

Was Moriarty teasing us and poking fun at herself halfway through the novel when one of the characters is asked how she likes the book she is reading? The reply is this, “The book was meant to be another murder mystery but the author had introduced far too many characters too early, and so far everyone was alive and kicking. The pace had slowed. Come on now. Hurry up and kill someone.” Pretty tongue-in-cheek because at that moment I was feeling exactly the same about Nine Perfect Strangers! 🙂

 

‘Truly Madly Guilty’ by Liane Moriarty

truly-madly-guiltystarstarstarAustralian author Liane Moriarty really knows how to weave a page-turning domestic thriller! The small cast of characters in this one are well described and sufficiently troubled to cast doubt on several people at once–as one reviewer aptly remarked, “she gives her characters enough baggage for a world tour.” If this is not your first Moriarty, you will recognize some of the things she writes about best: fraught friendships, troubled marriages, and checkered pasts. The ending was a bit too neatly tied up, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride once again.

“Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?” In Truly Madly Guilty there is an incident at a backyard barbecue that has had devastating consequences, only you don’t know what that terrible thing is until quite far into the book. After the ‘reveal’ however, it’s not over yet. Other twists and turns continue so that like peeling an onion, more layers slowly come to light. I’ve almost read all of her books now,  The Husband’s Secret is still my favourite.

‘The Last Anniversary’ by Liane Moriarty

The Last AnniversarystarstarstarSophie Honeywell wonders whether she should have accepted Thomas’ proposal instead of breaking his heart. Even though she longs for husband and family, she will not settle until the right one comes along. Unexpectedly, Sophie inherits a house on Scribbly Gum Island from Thomas’ aunt. The island is steeped in mystery and the family is suspicious about why Aunt Connie would leave her grandson’s ex-girlfriend such a gift. The Baby Munro mystery on Scribbly Gum Island, surrounds a young couple, Alice and Jack, who one morning disappeared from their own home, leaving the kettle on, a  freshly baked cake cooling on the rack, and a baby fast asleep in her crib. Aside from an overturned chair and few spots of blood, there is no sign of what happened that fateful day. Sophie is swept into the mystery and wonder of the Scribbly Gum island community where everyone seems to have a secret. A step above chick lit, the story has a sort of  ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ vibe and felt a bit dated. It is one of her earlier novels.

Scribbly Gum IslandScribbly Gum island is fictitious, but is based on Dangar Island which is located in the middle of the Hawkesbury River near Sydney, Australia. Moriarty has a fresh writing style that makes for such a fun and absorbing read, characterized by a ‘light’ touch even when tackling darker topics, and always full of twists and turns. I’ve almost managed to read all of her novels now, but The Husband’s Secret is still my favourite. Just put Moriarty in the Search bar to browse the other titles I’ve read and posted on.

‘The Hypnotist’s Love Story’ by Liane Moriarty

The Hypnotist's Love StorystarstarstarThis is another of Moriarty’s very readable novels. The story opens in a restaurant where Ellen, a hypnotist by profession, is having dinner with Patrick, a new promising candidate in a long line of failed relationships. He is acting a bit strange and suddenly leaves the table after saying he must tell her something. She really liked Patrick and is steeling herself for another rejection. But instead, when he returns, he tells her something quite unexpected. He is the victim of a stalker, an ex-girlfriend who just won’t leave him alone. Instead of being horrified, Ellen is strangely intrigued and her curiosity gets the better of her, especially when it turns out that Ellen has already met her.

The story is narrated alternately by the stalker and the hypnotist. Unless you are particularly interested in either of these subjects, there is not much engaging about this novel, not at all like her others which I couldn’t put down, especially The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies. The book felt a bit like a lost opportunity because there was plenty of good material to create a page turner. Having said that, I found it a pleasant enough read because I don’t mind character driven stories and I did enjoy her exploration of both hypnosis and what drives someone into stalking. The fact that the stalker was a woman and not a man, made for an interesting twist, but it’s nothing like Fatal Attraction!

‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesstarstarstarViolence, deceit, cover-ups, accusations, betrayal, and a lot of little toxic lies….all on the kindergarten playground where parents drop their kids off for school! Small town suspicions, accusations, and grudges get majorly and deliciously out of hand in a small seaside community in Australia.

The story begins at a parent orientation day, where one child bullies another but no one has actually witnessed the incident. One child is identified as the culprit but something seems wrong with the assumption made. From this, a series of events are set in motion that will culminate in several injuries and a death at the school trivia night some months later.

In this unusual whodunit we don’t know who the murderer is yet of course, but we also don’t know who the victim is!  Moriarty writes with tongue in cheek humour about suburbia and  parents behaving badly. She cleverly crafts a story that keeps us guessing right to the end. Aside from being compelling and entertaining, the novel also deals very sensitively with issues around domestic abuse.

Other books of Moriarty’s that I have enjoyed are The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot.

PS I find book cover art so interesting…this one is an exploding lollipop!

‘What Alice Forgot’ by Liane Moriarty

What Alice ForgotstarstarstarAlice falls at the gym and hits her head. When she comes to, she realizes that she has lost memory from the last 10 years. She doesn’t remember her own children. She finds out she is estranged from her husband, her sister isn’t speaking to her, and why was she even at the gym?…she hates the gym! She discovers all kinds of strange things about herself and sure has some catching up to do – a lot of things can happen in 10 years! Essentially she must depend on the people around her to tell her who she is now. And she’s not so happy with what she finds out!

Moriarty’s opening allows her character to time travel back to a happier time and examine what may have led to the demise of her marriage. The amnesia trick is not a new one, and at first it seemed a bit contrived to me. However, Moriarty’s writing saves the set-up and the predictable ending. She does know how to build a compelling story and I did get hooked, despite my early misgivings. The novel doesn’t have as many exciting twists and turns as The Husband’s Secret and is not quite as much of a page turner, but I would say it’s a “summer beach read plus”, enhanced with some wisdom and substance. It has some really good things to say about marriage and how to make relationships work. It’s good for the reader to consider how to remember what Alice forgot.

‘The Husband’s Secret’ by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's SecretstarstarstarstarMother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia stumbles upon an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband’s hand, the letter says: To be opened only in the event of my death. Her husband is still alive and he is begging her not to open it. What does it say? Should she open it? What if she does?

Fabulous novel! This Australian author had me in the palm of her hand. Compulsively snatching time away from other projects and activities to read, I was addicted from start to finish. The end was totally unexpected and simply stunning. What a great storyteller, and her exploration of the idea of the “burden of a secret” is well developed. Can’t wait to read the other books she has written! Highly recommended for book clubs since there would be lots to discuss!

One of the things I love to do is research the author of the book I’m reading. Who are these people who write great books? Some authors have very entertaining websites and Moriarty certainly does. She’s very funny and her sense of humour shines through as she talks about her own life and writing. Liane Moriarty Website