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Friday, July 20, 2012

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, 2012, * * *

From Australian writer Moriarty (The Last Anniversary) this novel amounts to a domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.  Alice wake from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child.  Actually she is 39, the mother of three children and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick.  She has fallen off her spin cycle and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the past 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become.  While Alice at 29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alive at 39 i8s a highly efficiently if too tightly wound supermom.  She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position.  The 29-year-old Alice cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be madly in love nor that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged.  She is doubly shocked to learn that her shy mother has married Nick's bumptious father and has taken up salsa dancing.  She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children nor does she know what to do with the perfectly nice boyfriend she has acquired at 39.  As her memory gradually returns, Alice initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick., although she senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. The novel asks the age-old question, What if? What if you had the chance to do over your past?  Would you make the same decisions? I didn't love the way the author tided up the end of the story but it does make your think about choices and chances. 

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