I am not a particularly author-loyal reader. While there are one or two authors whose books I love and read as soon as they come out, I wouldn’t necessarily rush out to pick up a non-Harry Potter book by J.K. Rowling, and I will often read a single novel or series by an author without feeling like I need to read the rest.
That’s how I first approached What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I loved this book (and it is probably still my favorite of all of Moriarty’s books), and it stuck with me for a long time after I read it. But I scanned the descriptions of Moriarty’s other books and didn’t really feel drawn to any of them, so I moved on.
Then last year I picked up a few of her other Kindle books on sale. What I realized as soon as I started reading Big Little Lies was that the thing I love about Liane Moriarty is not her storytelling (although she has a gift for weaving a story, for sure), but her insight into the human condition. I strongly identify with at least one—and often several—of the characters in each of her books. Not their actions—since those are often outlandish, inappropriate and ridiculous—but their motivations.
From the type-A control freak to the awkward introvert, Moriarty nails the thoughts, emotions and motivations of a wide variety of personalities in each book, and that’s what keeps me reading.
In full disclosure, I picked up The Hypnotist’s Love Story last week in preparation for this post, and it was—ironically—the only book where I didn’t have the feeling that Moriarty had somehow climbed into my head. But it was one of my favorite plot lines (after What Alice Forgot), so I’d recommend that one anyway!
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
What Alice Forgot is the story of a woman who wakes up after a fall thinking she’s a happily married newlywed only to discover she’s actually in her mid-30s with 3 kids, a social calendar that she doesn’t recognize, and a soon-to-be ex-husband who can’t stand the sight of her. But it’s also the story of a woman who has to rediscover who she truly is and where things went wrong in her fairytale life. As someone who can easily get caught up in getting things done and making things happen while losing sight of the important things, this story hit a little too close to home for me…in a really good way, and it’s easily Moriarty’s best novel.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The main characters in this story include a slightly bitter divorced woman, an incredibly beautiful and wealthy woman, and a young single mom, and I didn’t expect to identify with any of them. But from Madeline’s need to control everything to Celeste’s fear of what people would think if they knew the real her to Jane’s insecurities and sadness …there were pieces of each of them that could have been me. All wrapped up in a who-done-it mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
More comedy than serious drama, this book—which was Moriarty’s debut novel—was fairly ridiculous. The Kettle triplets are turning 33, and the book opens with their birthday dinner…that suddenly goes terribly wrong. But underneath the ridiculousness, it’s a story of relationships and women finding their way, and that I could identify with!
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
Similar in many ways to the style of Three Wishes, this is the story of Sophie Honeywell, who dumped Thomas right before he was going to propose and has always wondered whether she missed her chance for love, family and happiness. When she unexpectedly inherits Thomas’s aunt’s house and moves to the family island, she finds herself part of the quirky family and privy to the family secret as she finally starts to move forward and carve out her own happiness.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
There were a few similarities between this book and Big Little Lies that made me glad I hadn’t read them back-to-back…three women living very different lives who are bound together by a secret in ways you won’t realize until you read it. I’ve often thought about how one moment, one decision can change everything unexpectedly—and there are moments like that in my own love story—and I loved the way Moriarty wove those moments together.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
Funny enough, I picked this one up just so that I could read it before this post, and I couldn’t really identify with the main character—a single hypnotherapist in her mid-30s—at all. But while parts of the story were slow, I really enjoyed it overall. In what is part love story, part mystery, Ellen’s latest love interest reveals that in addition to being a single dad whose wife passed away when their son was a baby, he also has a stalker. Ellen’s interest in psychology and the workings of the mind leaves her not afraid but a little too interested in the stalker.
Have you read any of Liane Moriarty’s books? Do you love ’em? Hate ’em?