Posts Tagged ‘Liane Moriarty’

This post brings me up to date with the books I have read over the last couple of post-free months and Challenge Tuesdays will revert to their normal place in the calendar!

Book 33 – The Last Anniversary, by Liane Moriarty. Scribbly Gum Island sits off the Australian coast near Sydney, and is famous for the Munro Baby Mystery, where a couple seemingly vanished into thin air and left their baby behind. Only a handful of people live there – sisters Rose and Connie, who discovered the Munro baby; Enigma, the Munro Baby herself, now a grandmother in her 70’s, and her daughters. When Connie passes away, she leaves her house to Sophie – the ex-girlfriend of Enigma’s grandson. But as Sophie discovers, life on the island is not quite what she was anticipating, and the family are harbouring a secret about the Enigma’s missing parents…

Those of you with good memories might remember that I read another Liane Moriarty book back in 2014; I can’t remember it in great detail but I do think the slightly choppy style – short sentences, half-reported conversations etc – is very similar.  However, I was fairly ambivalent about that one whereas I really enjoyed this book.  The characters are distinct and their experiences have a sense of truth to them even in a fairly unlikely story.  For example, 39 year old Sophie wants children, and fears that she may have lost her chance; new mum Grace is terrified that she doesn’t have the ‘right’ feelings for her child and fears her thoughts to such an extent she becomes suicidal.  Margie is a 50-something who has been belittled and ignored by her husband for years despite her obvious skills and business acumen.  Thomas lost the love of his life and settled for a woman who could give him the family stability he craved.

There is a sense right from the start that the Munro mystery is not what Connie and Rose said it was, but there’s also a feeling that at some point it stopped mattering because it is their bread and butter – and it has made the family incredibly wealthy.

The interesting choice Moriarty made was to create the island not as a small, claustrophobic place, as it could be but as something like a theme park.  When Sophie moves onto the island her life opens up and suddenly there seems to be a wide horizon open to her.  Quite literally, in some scenes!

The story covers a lot of emotional ground – sex, love, loneliness, depression, joy, attraction, lies, shame – but at no point did I find it heavy handed.  The idea that someone would give their house to an almost stranger seems unbelievable but on the other hand, the way the characters are written it becomes a lot more believable that I would have imagined.  As you probably remember, I also appreciate it when the ending is satisfying but not unrealistically perfect, and this book got the balance pretty much perfect for me.

Overall I found this book extremely engaging.  I wanted to know the secret, but I also wanted to know the characters, see how they progressed.  I wanted Grace to be well, Sophie to have the child she craved, 88 year old Rose to tell the truth she so desperately wanted to tell.  I cared about the characters.

There’s a twist in the tale that caught me by surprise too – so right to the last page the book is giving something to the reader.  I can’t really ask for more than that!

Happy reading,



Read Full Post »

This week I finished two rather different books…

Book 17 – King Solomon’s Mines, by H Rider Haggard.  I’ve had this book on my shelf for years but am 99% sure I never read it; I have read She two or three times instead!  This book is full of adventure, riches, violence, and is a ‘rollicking good yarn’ or some such!

It follows the trek of a group of men into an unexplored area of Africa in search of a missing man – and fabled diamond mines.  Along the way there is elephant hunting, freezing mountains, near-starvation, death, revolution and entombment. There are also some funny moments and some odd notions!

As a product of its time it is far from PC; however there are heroes in the story who are black, white, male and female, which was a more modern approach than I’d expected from a writer of that era.  There are some very pertinent comments on the actions of humans along the way, with no race, or gender, being seen as wholly good or bad: there is a balance that must have reflected Haggard’s own perceptions following his experiences in Africa.

I enjoyed this, for what it is: a Victorian era book, when hunting elephants was a career choice and there was much of the world that was unseen and unknown.  Africa is portrayed as an exotic realm, full of danger, mystery and lost history – and you can see why it would have seemed so to the audience of the time.

Although there were flashes of religion in the characters there was more discussion of their arsenals than their God, and after Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Little Women I appreciated that :-).  It’s a book I could easily read again, because it is in effect a Victorian Indiana Jones affair – completely escapist.  Plus it did have that sense that the good triumphed over evil, even though the cost was vast.

Book 18 – The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty  This was a set book for reading group and is not my usual style; I will try not to use spoilers because this book is still in the paperback chart in the UK!

The book is contemporary, and is about how life can change when a secret is revealed.  Actually, more than one husband has a secret and for each one revealed, another one bursts into life.

It was hard to keep track of some of the characters’ relationships at the start but as the story unfolded it all became clearer.  I enjoyed the unreliability of some viewpoint characters – this trait meant we grew to appreciate some secondary characters as the story progressed.  One family in particular, once we saw their reality, seemed very sympathetic to me.

The big reveal was signposted from early on – I was hoping it was a twist –  and the subsequent event related to it was also signposted before it happened.  The interesting thing both times was the reactions of the different people involved, especially with the second related event.

There are some flashbacks which I personally don’t think added anything to the story, and an epilogue which did clarify one point but again didn’t really add anything to the story itself in my opinion.  However they did show another way that secrets – known and unknown – can impact on the way people’s lives unfold.

Overall it was easy to read and quite engaging but I wish there had been a little more mystery surrounding the secret itself.

Until next time, happy reading!



Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: