One day, a couple of years ago, I went to the library by myself. This was a noteworthy occasion because I usually go to the library with two little boys and leave with a huge stack of books about trucks, animals, and dead presidents. On that particular day, I decided to wander into the grown-up section, and pick out a novel for myself. I chose What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It was the best book I had read in years! When I found out she had written several other books, I vowed to read them all.
Liane Moriarty is a 50-year-old Australian writer and the oldest of six siblings, three of whom are published authors. Her novels have enjoyed enormous success in the US, UK, and around the world. Ironically, her work hasn’t been as popular in Australia, where she makes her home as the wife of a former farmer and mother to two young children. She has written seven novels, four of which have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. In 2014, Big Little Lies debuted at number one on the list and was recently made into an HBO series of the same name.
Moriarty’s books are a study of life and relationships: marriages, mothers-in-law, friendships, parenting, and more. She writes stories set in ordinary suburban towns, yet full of drama and suspense. You might recognize your own hometown in one of her books like I did. She has a brilliant way of taking everyday life and turning it toward the light to reveal a dark side where our fears and secrets hide. Her novels mimic real life by putting ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. She says this:
“If I go out with a group of mothers, I’m always conscious that people are looking and thinking, ‘Oh, just a group of soccer mums.’ We always underestimate each other. But there are always the most incredible lives going on behind the scenes. You only have to walk behind one door and you’ll find a story to tell. That’s what I’m interested in.” *
Moriarty’s multi-dimensional characters are so carefully crafted that the reader is prompted to develop empathy for all of them. The women in her books are believably real, rather than cliché. (I’m pretty sure I’ve even met some of her “Blond Bobs” in the flesh.) Once you’re immersed in their stories, you’ll be routing for them amidst their struggles. Moriarty doesn’t shy away from weighty topics such as domestic violence, infertility, bullying, and hoarding.
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I’ve read all four of Moriarty’s bestsellers: What Alice Forgot, The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies, and Truly Madly Guilty. Each one has a storyline with enough suspense to keep you reading well past midnight. This summer, I read Truly Madly Guilty, in which Moriarty may have taken the suspense just a step too far. It’s the only book I’ve ever read that left me with no choice but to skip ahead and read its chapters out of order! The first 47 chapters (232 pages in the hardcover) toggle back and forth between the present day and “The Day of the Barbeque.” As the reader, you know something life-altering happened on the day of the barbeque, but you don’t know what. I made it through about 140 pages before I began having trouble keeping it all straight in my head. Frustrated by the excessively long build-up, I skipped ahead, read chapters 48 and 49, and then it all made sense. I went back to where I left off and continued reading to the end. I would recommend Truly Madly Guilty if you are a fan of Liane Moriarty, but I wouldn’t suggest it as an introduction to her work. What Alice Forgot is still my favorite, with Big Little Lies coming in a close second.
I haven’t seen HBO’s version of Big Little Lies yet, but I’m dying to watch it! There has been talk of a movie adaptation of What Alice Forgot since 2014. CBS Films bought the rights to The Husband’s Secret, but hasn’t publicized any details on a potential film. Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, producers and co-stars of HBO’s Big Little Lies, have secured the movie rights to Truly Madly Guilty. They seem to be the most likely producers of the first Moriarty-inspired film.
Three of Moriarty’s early works are currently on my list of books to read: Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, and The Hypnotist’s Love Story. If you’ve read all of Liane’s books, you may want to get your hands on her sisters’ novels next. Nicola Moriarty recently authored The Fifth Letter. If you haven’t read all of Liane’s books, pick one up today. Your schedule may not allow the pleasure of a solo library visit, but that’s why we have Amazon! Links are below. Enjoy!
* Hooton, Amanda. “How Sydney author Liane Moriarty sold six million books and inspired an HBO series.” The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 July 2016.