On a trip back from Australia last year, my mother-in-law picked up What Alice Forgot and handed it off to me upon her arrival back in Los Angeles, with a strong recommendation to read it. Since it seemed to be in a genre for which I had little interest, I set it aside and forgot about it. HBO’s Big Little Lies put Moriarty’s name back on my radar and the book caught my eye while I was rearranging my library. I’m glad it did. Her novel takes the normal roller coaster of a marriage, turns it on its head and then spins it backward. Time can make us wiser, fuller, kinder, more open; it can also make us bitter, nasty, self-righteous and haughty.
When Moriarty’s protagonist Alice falls off her bike during spin class, bangs her head and loses all memory of the last ten years of her extremely momentous life, she also loses the maelstrom of feelings accompanying those many years. If you found yourself back at the beginning of a ten-year marriage while your spouse was living with the experience of those ten years, and you discovered you were on your way to getting a divorce, what would you do?
To avoid any spoiler alerts, I will not provide any more storyline. I will say that I became so wrapped up in Alice’s life as her memory slowly returned page after page, I almost tossed the book aside near the end when I thought Alice was going to make the absolutely wrong decision – at least as far as I was concerned. Buy it. Read it. Take note if you’re not married yet. Moriarty will provide solid insight into our oldest of social institutions.