A couple of years ago I read "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty and it rocked my world. I remember thinking that THIS author got it...what it is like to be newly married and full of dreams, to have kids (and all that brings), to juggle family crisis, to scratch and claw and be beaten down by life, and to have hope for the future. That book spoke to me. It IS an Amy Einhorn after all, so of course it spoke to me.
And I was thrilled to hear that Moriarty had a new book out last summer. I want to thank the sweet, thoughtful Jenners for sending me her copy!
Synopsis: Ellen O'Farrell is a successful middle-aged hypnotherapist who has never quite found Mr. Right...until she meets Patrick. Yes he is a widow, and yes he has a child, but they have much in common and he is kind. He has serious potential. One night over dinner, Patrick reveals that he is being stalked by an ex-girlfriend Saskia. He is concerned that it could prevent their relationship from going any further, but Ellen is actually intrigued. Call it professional curiosity.
As Ellen and Patrick's relationship develops into something more serious, Ellen hits some road bumps. Although Ellen has always considered herself ethical, she finds herself making questionable choices in both her professional and personal life. Patrick actually has some irksome qualities that must be dealt with, like his on-going love affair with his dead wife and his tendency to be a hoarder. Then there is Saskia, who just won't give up, and is always lurking in the background, intruding on the most personal moments and sneaking into their homes.
We get two points of view in this study of love, obsession, and the ghosts of relationships past. Ellen tells us her side of the story, but also we get a first person narrative from Saskia, who we should loathe but can't quite help feeling sympathy. While the plot wanders a bit, readers are still treated with Moriarty's warm and readable prose and interesting characters.
My thoughts: I'd be lying if I said I loved this book. It just wasn't up to the standard of "What Alice Forgot". The writing and insights were there, and is what I love about Moriarty's style. But as I just said, the plot wandered all over the place and I occasionally wondered where it was all going. It was all interesting, mind you, just a little unfocused.
I found myself amused at how I reacted to the characters. I liked Ellen from the beginning. She was quirky but totally relatable...any woman reader is going to see a bit of herself in Ellen.
But who would imagine that I might actually find a glimmer of kinship or understanding in a stalker? Saskia wasn't beheading chickens by the light of the full moon. She was an attractive professional woman who just couldn't let go of Patrick or his son, who Saskia had raised for three years. She was totally out of line, but I found her redeemable and in need of a friend more than a psych ward.
I wasn't a big fan of Patrick. He annoyed me, and I didn't trust him. Until the end of the story, that is, when he offers insight to his actions. Bottom line, the personalities kept me on my toes and never allowed me to get too comfortable or settled in my opinions.
I think that perhaps Moriarty has gotten a reputation for writing "chick lit", and to a certain extent, yes, her books have a lighter spirit. But there is always a darker, deeper side to things that touches on our unspoken fears.
Generally, I am glad I read this book because I do hold this author in high esteem, though this isn't the best representation of what she can do.
4 out of 5 stars