What Alice Forgot
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157 of 164 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2011
What if you could not remember the last 10 years of your life? Pregnancies and births, marriages and deaths, friends and enemies? This is what happens to Alice, who after a fall, wakes up believing that she is 29 years old, happily married, and due to have her first baby soon. Reality is, that she is closer to 40, with 3 children and a failing marriage. So begins the story of Alice as she has finds out what has happened in the past 10 years of her life from those who are around her, and discovers that the Alice of 29 years had morphed into a very strong, capable mother, with opinions and actions that don't always endear her to those around her. Can past wrongs be undone? Will she come out of this a better person?

This book was highly entertaining, with a story that also makes you think about what your own last 10 years have been like (and all the events that took place in those years). The character of Alice is very interesting and well developed, as is all the other people in the story, especially her sister, Elisabeth and grandmother Frannie.

I kept reading this book, not wanting to put it down as I was so engrossed to see how it would all turn out - it holds your interest the whole time, and despite it being an out of the ordinary case of amnesia, it still comes across as a believable story line, handled very well by this author.

Enjoyable and fun read.
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418 of 451 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2011
What Alice Forgot is very similar to Sophie Kinsella's tale Remember Me?, but Remember Me? is a much lighter affair (it's Sophie Kinsella after all) and What Alice Forgot is a far deeper (and longer) tale. That's no bad thing, though, as I loved both books and they both suit my tastes. Because 29-year-old Alice believes that she's happily married and pregnant with her first child, and also that she and her sister Elisabeth are close, it comes as a series of shocks to her when she realises she has three actual children and that not only does she not remember having them, she doesn't remember them period. To then learn herself and Nick, her husband, are on the brink of divorce and also that Alice and Elisabeth are as close as the North and South pole, was quite sad to read - to believe you're 29 and to suddenly age 10 years must be a pretty scary thing and Liane Moriarty managed to bring across Alice's anguish perfectly. To have three children and not even know who they are was obviously a little controversial - how can she not know her kids? - but that's the power of amnesia, it makes you forget the most simple (and important) things.

What really made the book for me though was Alice's realisation that her 39-year-old self wasn't a nice person at all. She was nothing like the 29-year-old free spirit, in fact she was the total opposite. So it was easy to see how Alice and Nick's relationship disintegrated. Alice turned into a total control freak, it seemed, and it just tore them apart. The ever-mysterious Gina certainly didn't help Nick and Alice's marriage and I was stunned at just how ferocious Nick was the first time he and Alice talked after her accident. It was clear that something had gone seriously wrong in Alice's life, something that caused her to become uptight, to argue with her husband and to practically lose contact with her beloved sister. All is revealed but not quickly. No where near quicky, in fact. A flashback or a loose mention of a name awakens something in Alice's memory and so we learn a tid-bit of Alice's life as it is now but never enough to truly hold on to. It was a very clever way of letting us all know what had happened and it certainly kept me reading.

The book is told in third-person, which I wasn't expecting, but it works well so it wasn't a problem. It's all from Alice's point of view, too. But as well as the usual narrative, there are also diary/journal type entries from Elisabeth, which confused me at first, but it soon makes sense, as well as blog entries from Frannie. All three women are experiencing troubles, some more serious than others and it was interesting to get their take on things. I particularly enjoyed Elisabeth's diary entries, they were insightful. Overall I really loved What Alice Forgot, it is certainly one of the better amnesia stories out there and I hugely enjoyed all of the 496 pages. I hugely recommend you pick this one up, as you won't regret it.
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235 of 262 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2010
Picked this book up while on vacation in England and actually skipped sightseeing one day to stay at the hotel and finish reading it. Yeah, it was that good! I'm an avid reader and a bit hard to please. I can usually figure out a plot pretty quick. But this book threw me for some loops and kept me guessing. I loved the way it was told, especially the sister's letters to her doctor as they gradually tell a story of their own about what the sister has been going through. A previous reviewer said it was reminiscent of Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me - yes, it was. However, I thought this book was much better. The characters were more complex and the story line was better. All my 'reading' friends have borrowed it now and have all loved it also. I also loved the ending. It was perfect.
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113 of 129 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2011
I felt like this book should have been about 100 pages shorter. Alice's story is very compelling, but then we are introduced to two other narratives (the sister and the grandmother) and in my opinion these really slowed the pace of the book. They are told using the devices of letters and journal entries (ugh) and had the feel of "this is the author telling the story" instead of the way a letter would really be written. The grandmother's story in particular I thought could have been cut completely.
That said, the author did a good job with authentic details and dialogue, and I wanted to keep reading to find out how the ending would be resolved. Three and a half stars.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2011
What a lovely book - enjoyable to read, yet it sneaks up on you to make you really think about your own life. It's hard to put down; I was so interested in finding out what would happen when Alice's memory returned. Moriarty does a great job at feeding the reader tidbits of information as the story progresses, keeping the reader engaged. But the real strength of the book it that it leads one to think about one's own life: what would the me of 10 years ago (or 20 or 30 years?) think of the me now? How do marriages that begin so absolutely lovely end up with people hating one another? What if just one of the couple can look at the other with eyes from the start of the relationship? How can we find a way to accept and forgive each other? And, how can the old me and current me integrate to find the best of each? So, I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2011
Loved this book! It is a great concept, well executed. The only reason I am not giving it 5 stars is because Alice's story (in 3rd person) is occasionally interrupted by narratives from two minor characters about their own side stories. I found them distracting. I would have much prefered to stick with Alice's perspective.
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
I like to read and there is so much out there I find it hard to choose. I also have very little patience with books for this reason; if it doesn't grab me or charm me or somehow seduce me from the start, I'd rather move on to something that does.

What Alice Forget did charm me at first. I became very involved in the story, but about halfway through I had a feeling of trepidation. I thought: "There is no way for this to end that would feel satisfying." But I was still pretty absorbed by the story, and was hoping that the author had a surprise waiting for me.

Sadly, this was not to be. Without badly spoiling the ending, let me just say it took not one but both of the predictable paths. The ending was so neat, and trite, and terribly pat. The book could have been titled "Chicken Soup for the Amnesiac's Soul." I almost felt like I'd been cheated. Moriarity is a good writer, and I expected better. It was just a letdown.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I read this book in one day! (Pretty much all I did was read that day) It is the perfect book for a summer vacation. Not too heavy, not too light. The writing is good and the plot is interesting.

What if you woke up from a fall and a knock on the head and you'd forgotten 10 years of your life? You weren't just 10 years older (no time travel is involved here), but you had lost ten years of memories. You had three kids and were getting divorced from your husband with whom you were much in love during the last day you remember?

The story is told from the point of view of the main character, her sister and her adopted grandmother. The central tension in the book involves two questions "Will she regain her memory?" and "What will happen when she does?"

Excellent read! Pack it for a long plane ride or a beach vacation.
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71 of 89 people found the following review helpful
With the arrival of a baby imminent on the horizon, most women begin thinking about packing a bag for the hospital, making sure the nursery is in order, washing those few last baby clothes in preparation. Me? I began making a list of books to read as soon as we got home from the hospital. And one of the top books on my list was WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty. I've seen this title and author batted about recently, and with its June 2nd U.S. release date, it seemed the perfect one to start with. My excitement to read it even managed to penetrate the fog of sleep deprivation that exists around my mind these days. I've read Liane's sister Jaclyn Moriarty's work and enjoyed a few of them, and I love the idea of writerly sisters. So I was eager to see what Liane Moriarty's writing was like, especially when I found out this one was about a woman who lost her memory. I'm beginning to think I may have sort of a thing for amnesia stories. So much potential therein. For both humor and pain. Especially the pain. But more on that later.

Alice wakes up on the floor of a gym unable to figure out just exactly how she got there. It becomes apparent that she fell off her bike during spin class, bumped her head rather hard, and awoke to find herself being rushed off to the hospital by a couple of handsome paramedics, while people she does not know call out to her and wish her well. Poor Alice becomes more and more confused at the doctor's insistence that it is a different year from the one she knows it is, at the inexplicable workout clothing she's wearing, at the disturbing lack of an appearance on her husband's part. What she doesn't want to accept--but what seems to have actually happened--is she lost the last ten years of her life when she bumped her head. And unspeakable changes have taken place in Alice's life in those last ten years. She and her devoted sister Elizabeth have somehow grown apart. Very far apart indeed. Her best friend is consumed with work and sounds actually shocked when Alice calls her to say hi. Her mother has changed inside and out and has taken up with a man she would never have pictured her mother with, not in a thousand years. And, worst of all, she and her husband Nick have split up and are in the midst of a messy custody battle over their three kids. Three kids they didn't even have when Alice last remembers. She was just barely pregnant with their first back then, and she (understandably) finds it unfathomable that that tiny unborn baby is now a 10-year-old girl who is angry at the world because her parents are divorcing. Desperate to find her way back home, Alice sets about trying to pick up the reins of a life she finds utterly alien.

You know how you can become so involved in a book that you actually feel anxiety on behalf of the characters? Your shoulders tense up, your brow furrows, and you turn the pages with trepidation for fear what follows will be more than they can bear. That feeling is nothing new to me. And it's usually the mark of a story I'm enjoying immensely. But do you ever read a book that fills you with anxiety on your own behalf? And your concern and the tension in your shoulders and brow are for the characters, certainly, but even more for yourself. And you're up at night imagining the ways in which your life might fall apart were something similar to happen to you. Yeah. WHAT ALICE FORGOT filled me with anxiety. I was up at night (granted I was up anyway with a baby). But even when I stopped reading I couldn't turn off the anxiety of ten years lost. Of a husband you loved yesterday who absolutely hates your guts today. Of having been on the brink of motherhood for the very first time and then being thrust forward into a franticly speedy life full of taking care of little people you've never met before. And doing it all alone. My post-pregnancy hormones may have been completely out of whack but wow. This book did not help. Not one little bit. That said, I couldn't put it down. I immediately felt an affinity for Alice and wanted so very much for her to be able to put the pieces of her fragmented memory together along with the shattered pieces of her fragmented family. Cue the pain I was talking about earlier. And the humor as well. Twenty-nine-year-old Alice is a delightful woman, with a great sense of humor and a love for laughter and life. Her observances on the ridiculous predicament she finds herself in are chuckle-worthy and spot-on. Thirty-nine-year-old Alice is a different creature entirely. She is extremely difficult to like. And Ms. Moriarty does a wonderful job of making each supporting character sympathetic, especially Alice's once-carefree and charming husband Nick and her now-careworn and bitter older sister Elizabeth. I loved them all and wanted to wrap my arms around them and just hug them into loving each other again. Of course, it's nowhere near that easy. Unfortunately, the story takes its incredibly sweet time getting around to anything happening, to Alice solving the mystery of her past and actively trying to form her future into one she can live with. She was such a strong character, I thought her perfectly capable of doing just that. And Nick was a fascinating and complicated character in his own right, but we rarely saw him in the present. There were quite a few reminiscences of him ten years ago, but the scenes in which Alice and Nick of today actually communicate are few and far between. As they were my favorites and were so well done, I really wished there were more. In fact, I needed a few more to make the ending truly satisfactory. As it was, it felt abrupt after the lengthy path it took to get there. So overall, a very absorbing read that fell somewhat short for me in its pacing and final execution. For similar and enjoyable reads, I recommend Bachelor Boys by Kate Saunders andSeeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2014
This is not a good read. This is not even an okay read. This is a book with a good first chapter that compels you like a fly to a spider's web. After you figure your way out of the web you can skim multiple pages. If you like your books light, pointless and predictable- then and only then, this could be a book for you.
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