Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Published: 24th June 2014 (print)/11 September 2015 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Perennial /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 356/1 Disc (13 hours 50 minutes)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Whenever they’re together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow. But apart, each is very much her own woman, dealing with her own share of ups and downs. Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, juggling the many balls of work, marriage, and motherhood with expert precision, but is she as together as her datebook would have her seem? Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage — can she bring another life into her very precarious world? And can free-spirited Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, ever hope to find lasting love? In this wise, witty, hilarious new novel, we follow the Kettle sisters through their thirty-third-year, as they struggle to survive their divorced parents’ dating each other, their technologically savvy grandmother, a cheating husband, champagne hangovers, and the fabulous, frustrating 

I was trying to decide whether I disliked this book because it was Moriarty’s first and she hadn’t honed her craft yet, or whether it just didn’t gel with me. I’m going with the latter because as I’ve said in previous reviews, my enjoyment of her books is often a coin toss so there is no way to tell which way I’ll go come the end of it.

I didn’t sit through it hating it, I didn’t get bored in it or think it was unrealistic or too idealistic. I’m not entirely sure what it was. I liked some parts, I understood the story Moriarty was trying to tell, and yet I got to the end of it and felt unsatisfied.

I think one key reason was that when we finally get to Moriarty’s Reveal™, I recall thinking “is that it?” It was so anticlimactic that I think if it hadn’t have been built up to be such a big deal it would have been ok, but the way the story builds this Event to be I felt the payout should have been better.

Maybe I am not getting into the emotional journey and tribulations of these characters. I read it, I understood it, but I wasn’t quite so moved by it to the extent I was meant to be. I think I was meant to be more shocked, or more surprised by this surprise because of the journey Moriarty’s been taking me on so far. And yet, no. It was obvious in a way, once I recovered from my anticlimactic disappointment. I did feel empathy for the characters, what they go through individually is terrible and I can see how it affects them, but in terms of this coinciding with other events in the novel I think it doesn’t quite land.

Separately, each of the triplet’s story was well told. Moriarty explores their emotional story and their inner thoughts so we can understand where they’re coming from and who they are as people. One thing Moriarty does well is give her characters a distinguishing voice and there is a great honesty to them. Each of these girls had their own voice, one which reflected who they are and Moriarty makes them real. This was enhanced by the audio because Lee did a great job expressing each character in a believable way.

The random Nanna Kettle story felt out of place. I don’t know why it was included, I thought maybe it would end up linking to Kat,  but when it didn’t I still don’t know why it was included. It wasn’t like we were really that invested in Nanna Kettle, she had such a minor part to play she almost didn’t need to be there. One thing I did enjoy was the way Moriarty included the small anecdotes from outsiders on the Kettle family and their lives. It gave a nice side view of them without it needing to be included in the main narration. Each observation suits the moment in the story perfectly, and there’s even a few that break your heart a little.

There are few big subjects in this book but within the structure of Moriarty’s writing they are impactful, but not overwhelming. Each of these women have such different lives, but when they come together they collapse into the sibling mentality which was done well. Gemma somehow manages to have the baby sister vibe, despite them all being the same age. I think it is her lack of emotional maturity that brings this across, and Lyn is very much the big sister.

There is humour and a few surprises that Moriarty works with, and the depth she gives to all of her characters adds to their believability. Side characters have complicated stories and entwined together with the main cast. It rings true like a Moriarty story but it was one that just didn’t wow me.

You can purchase Three Wishes via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository Audible

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

 Fishpond | QBD

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Published: 1st April 2013 (print)/1st April, 2013 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Perennial /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 416/11 Discs (13 hours 49 minutes)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

Note: Possible spoilers ahead, maybe

Liane Moriarty and I have a strange relationship. My affection for her books can vary depending on the story and this is one of those books were my affection was waning. Which is a shame because I can see what Moriarty was trying to achieve, I just felt that it could have been a lot stronger in the execution.

There are multiple characters telling this story, their stories happening side by side until their threads start coming together. In terms of style, the writing is clever, small discoveries and snippets of information means this mystery is a slow reveal and characters know more than the reader so all we can do is wait until their secrets are revealed even further. The contents of the letter are the driving mystery in the start and when the contents finally come to light, the consequences unfold through the remaining chapters.

We get to know these three women that this letter will affect and as we delve deeper into their own personal lives and histories there is a lot to take in. The connecting moment between the three takes a while, and in that time you have to retain a lot of information and remember who’s who and where they fit in connection to others. Cecelia still felt like the main player in this story, though the others get their share on the page, whether it was because it all came back to Cecilia’s family it felt that way, or maybe I just liked Cecilia’s character and her story stuck with more than the others.

There is an element of tragedy and certainly an irony which would suit any crime show these days. I found it was predictable and drawn out without the real interest to sustain it, but I admired Moriarty’s attempt to create such a story and to invoke these dilemmas from Cecilia and the other characters. The question of what would you do if faced with these decisions was the goal for the reader, to make us think and challenge our own conceptions. I can’t say I thought about what I would do but I disagreed with the ending so maybe that’s my answer?

I won’t go into detail but there was a line in here that hit me that I need to take about. I was listening to this as an audiobook and even after the secrets have been revealed and it’s gone in a few unexpected and expected ways, there came the line “I loved her, then she laughed at me”. This line stood out to me so much, because it’s The Line. The Margaret Atwood line about men laughing and women being murdered. Moriarty’s book didn’t seem to have the right severity to have a line like this in it. It was filled with grief and drama, but it never seemed severe.  That is the tone this book could have gone with, this tragedy and secrecy could have been made to have a greater impact, instead it falls flat and with an ending which I couldn’t get behind and one I felt was a strange solution to the characters we’d been following for the entirety of this book.

You can purchase The Husband’s Secret via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository Audible

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Wordery

Angus & Robertson | Dymocks

 Fishpond | QBD

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Published: 24th June 2014 (print)/3rd December, 2014 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Harper Perennial /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 388/1 Disc (14 hours)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon was the one she let get away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie’s house on Scribbly Gum Island — home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery.

Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it’s about time she started making her own decisions.

As Sophie’s life becomes increasingly complicated, she discovers that sometimes you have to stop waiting around — and come up with your own fairy-tale ending.

As I was listening to this I forgot that it was a Liane Moriarty book. Which is good…or bad. I don’t know. Weird? Not important? Either way it doesn’t have the Big Mystery feel of the other books, I thought maybe for a moment there was going to be one but that didn’t eventuate.

There is a mystery, don’t get me wrong, but it never felt like it was going to be solved, or needed to be revealed the way other Moriarty books have. All other books I’ve read of hers have had the Big Mystery; normally this is what the Event that is constantly being referenced to is. The books countdown and use flashbacks to what it is that’s happened until we’re finally told. This wasn’t the case with The Last Anniversary.

I didn’t like this any more or less because of that. I enjoyed it, it was well told, and I liked the little mystery it had. When the reveal comes it’s possible it was more obvious to some people, I didn’t figure it out and I’m not disappointed about that. I liked having it revealed to me, and I liked seeing it explained later as the pieces all fit together.

Honestly, even if it was never explained I wouldn’t have minded. It didn’t feel like it needed to be solved to make the story work, or to make it interesting, I enjoyed the story regardless. I liked Sophie’s part, the stories of each character, they were interesting and had intrigue and drama on their own. If I never found out what happened it didn’t affect the story whatsoever. Unlike other books where the veiled references about Something have built anticipation. This one was a nice story with a mystery, yes, but not one that needed or really revolved around the story as much as other Moriarty books have.

I loved all the characters in this. They were flawed and complicated, they had secrets and they had complicated lives. Everything in this story comes from, or circles back to the death of aunt Connie. Her death leaves people lost, confused, it stirs up the past and her actions have consequences long after she’s gone. It felt like a family story, there are jokes and warm feelings that sisters and family bring, and Moriarty brings to life this small island community where this family have basically reigned for decades.

Caroline Lee did a wonderful job narrating, she has done Moriarty’s previous audiobooks. There was even a bit of extra fun in there when she used the same accent for a background character that she’d used in a previous book and I had a second where I thought a character from an entirely different book had shown up. Was not the case.

It’s not all little mysteries; Moriarty also covers important topics like poverty, family commitment, and post-natal depression. These are the storylines that make the book interesting, not the mystery, though that is fun in itself. The new girl in a small community and fitting into a family that has such deep history is also a great story and one Moriarty pulls off successfully.

You can purchase The Last Anniversary via the following

Publisher | Booktopia

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | A&R Bookworld

Fishpond | QBD

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Published: 29th July 2014 (print)/1st August 2014 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Berkley /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 460/1 discs
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbours secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

As I’ve been making way back through Moriarty’s back catalogue I had been leaving this one until later. After being disappointed with a few of her earlier ones I had been told her later books were better. I have to admit this was a great book. I listened to it on audiobook and it really suited the format. Caroline Lee does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life and with Moriarty’s style of jumping back and forth in time and scenes it is a style suited to this kind of story.

Lee is a great narrator; she makes each of the key women unique in their voices and every character’s personality shine through with her voices and inflections. She definitely captured the School Mum hierarchy and pushy parents, which added to the experience.

As per Moriarty style, we begin with a mystery. Something has happened and we’re not going to be told what until 3/4 of the way through. I have grown to like this style of hers, especially when she does it well and succinctly. This, like Truly Madly Guilty, benefited from this because there are a host of characters to introduce and explore. In that case this drawn out mystery is beneficial and never feels like it drags on.

There are numerous clues and possibilities as to what it is that has happened and who it is that had been affected. But it’s not just this Event that is mysterious; Moriarty weaves numerous seemingly innocent events together to create a plot filled with secrets, gossip, rumours, and schoolyard politics that snowball into a dramatic and destructive force. Numerous clues are given and enough details are provided about the three main women that you can easily convince yourself that The Event is about each of them, keeping you on your toes as to who will be affected.

I loved the mixture of the interviews and the different perspectives and I loved the variety of school mums and their relationships. There are so many complicated things happening that you really are not sure which way the story could go.

When the reveal comes it is divine, and then it morphs into something else entirely. Moriarty has finally mastered a good reveal that actually means something and changes everything. My suspicions were confirmed, but I was also pleasantly surprised. Something I haven’t really had with a Moriarty book before.

You can purchase Big Little Lies via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Wordery

Book Depository | KoboFishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | QBD

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Published: 26th July 2016 (print)/20th July 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Flatiron Books /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 415/15 discs
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

First of all, let’s all rejoice, I have read a Moriarty book I didn’t dislike! It was interesting, it had characters I liked and who were interesting, and there was a good plot that had purpose and flow.

After a few unenjoyable books by Moriarty I was worried going into this but it surprised me. The classic “I’m not going to tell you what I’ve been hinting at for most of the book until almost the end” Moriarty approach is there which surprisingly worked very well in this story. In the past, it’s been a frustratingly drawn out longer than need be experience, but this time it works ideally. With the numerous perspectives to cover it spreads the novel out and covers multiple angles and adds depth to the story and more complexities.

With so many characters Moriarty circles around the unspoken event, also known as “the worst day” and just as you get closer she spirals out again. It seamless and I loved that we inch our way closer and closer and then are flung straight back out again into someone else’s point of view and backwards or forwards through time.

The characters are full and brought their lives to the page, Moriarty showing us exactly who they are with a few words or actions that encapsulates them perfectly and Lee adds another level with her excellent voices and narrating ability. Each character felt real to some degree and had their own depth and unique quality. Moriarty made even the briefest characters have something that made them stand out. I enjoyed Oliver’s kind but abrupt nature, and while I disliked Erika’s character, I liked that she was different and could annoy me, which is a weird experience. On the other hand, I can’t tell if I feel sorry for Harry or not. In a way I think we are meant to feel sorry for him, but at the same time not. I liked that Moriarty made me have such conflicting feelings about so many of her characters.

When the surprise does come it’s after much speculation on the reader’s part and Moriarty doesn’t disappoint. The slow reveal is wonderful and linked to so many characters that it adds more questions and sparks a whole other set of problems and dramas.

The ending I think was perfect, it was the best ending for the characters and I am glad Moriarty didn’t try to make it any other way which she easily could have. There are surprises and wonderful moments, it’s not without its problems but it was an enjoyable book that was complicated and messy and revealed how one single event can affect everyone differently and can change everything.

You can purchase Truly Madly Guilty via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Wordery

Book Depository | Kobo| Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | QBD

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