Book Review – What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

by Maryse on June 26, 2016 · 3 comments

in My Book Reviews

What Alice Forgot
*whooooooooo* Finished! I read this one for the last two (3? days) and now I see why! Almost 500 pages of an incredibly written personal story focusing on the heroine’s emotional journey of loss. Loss of a marriage that once was happily the center of her world, but also, loss of a certain part of her memory after an accident.

And while we might guffaw at the “amnesia” trope, this one really worked, for me. The reality we experienced… a whole other “perspective” to a life once forgotten by “taking each other for granted” and life happening as it will…  was wonderfully explored.

I would definitely recommend this one for those looking to experience an in-depth heartwarming (and at times heartbreaking) look into a woman’s life during marital strife (and on the definite path to divorce).

Tasha: I saw After I Do mentioned up there and it made me think to mention What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. If you loved After I Do you will love WAF! I still think of this book all the time, it’s one of my top faves for sure!

Amy: I loved her book Big Little Lies (OMG so fun with a slightly dark comedic edge to it!), so I should have known What Alice Forgot would be just as good…and it IS!  We know from the blurb she has three kids and is getting divorced, but to be finding everything out along with her when all she remembers is being happy in her marriage is just…well, it hurts! I want to know what the heck is going on, and yet I’m a little apprehensive about knowing what has happened. I’m actually getting a little teary-eyed along with her!

Maryse: I’m with in her in the ambulance…. in the beginning when she’s realizing something is not right with her memory…

Amy: Oh Maryse, just wait until things start getting explained to her. :( I’m teary and yet I have to do a bunch of stuff this morning and I. Don’t. Wanna! *sigh* Can’t I just sit here and READ all morning?

Jennifer: This is an amazing book!!! I ugly cried! Hits you right in the feels. Rips your heart!!

Val: I love this book. It’s my favorite by hers.

Susan: I’m loving this SO much!!

Amy: Oh my…oh wow…every time I pick WAF up, I have a lump in my throat and feel on the verge of tears. I LOVE that I’m experiencing this *with* her and not just reading *about* her. And I don’t think I’m even to the toughest part…she hasn’t yet seen her husband. Although, she spoke briefly to him on the phone and…yeah. :? Then again, maybe it’s just me being hormonally emotional? After all, I was crying over Juno yesterday. And that stupid suspense movie that’s not supposed to make you cry…

Maryse: OMG… THIS:

“Nick, you will never believe how this man spoke to me. You will want to punch him in the nose when you hear. Except it’s so strange, because it was you, Nick, you were the man.”

That breaks my heart.

Amy: OMG, right?!? That was the part (the phone call) which started the teary eyes and lump in my throat. And where I am at, she still has yet to see him. I can only imagine how much THAT is going to hurt… *cracks open the pinot grigio and starts pouring two glasses*

Maryse: Thank you Amy.. *takes both glasses of wine* *giggle:P Okay back to my sadness.

Catherine: One of my favorite books!!!!

Amy: “She was experiencing all those familiar symptoms of a relationship breakup. The nausea. The sensation of something huge and hard lodged in the center of her chest. That trembly, teary feeling. She wasn’t supposed to ever have to feel this way again.” GAH!!! *sob*

Tessa: *hands Amy a box of Kleenex*

Susan: I just finished…loved loved loved it!!!

Avalon: What Alice Forgot was also a home run for me.

Claudia: This author is so good, I just finished reading “What Alice Forgot”, amazing!

Christin:  I LOVE it when a book causes me to examine my own life. Fantastic read!!

Agreed Christin!!! Thought provoking and makes you REALLY think, and I loved that!

AND this one has an interesting twist, allowing us to experience her journey in a few different ways and I loved that very insightful, very “innocent” look into what she suddenly feels should not be happening.

‘Cause as steadfast as she may have been regarding divorcing from her husband, and as much as everyone assumes she hated him (and visa versa), her perspective has suddenly… changed.

After a bump on the head leaves Alice without memories of the last ten years (nothing at all),

“How old are you, Alice?”

“I’m twenty-nine, Jane.” Alice was irritated by Jane’s dramatic tone. What was she getting at? “Same age as you.”

Jane sat back up and looked at George Clooney triumphantly.

She said, “I just got an invitation to her fortieth birthday.”

That was the day Alice Mary Love went to the gym and carelessly misplaced a decade of her life.

…all she has recollection of is her life as a new couple. In love, and ready to take on the world together. Renovating an old home, building a family, making their way as adults… together. Everything that has destroyed their solid foundation as they lived life over the years has been erased from her memory. She only remembers the hopes, the dreams, the determination, and most of all, their incredible love.

“Please tell me it’s not true. About Nick.”

“Oh, Alice.”

“Because I love him. I properly love him. I love him so much.”

“You did love him.”

“No, I do. Right now. I know I still do.”

Elisabeth made a “tsk” sound that was full of sympathy, and lifted her hands in a hopeless sort of gesture. “When you get your memory back—”

“But we’re so happy!” interrupted Alice frantically, trying to make Elisabeth see. “It’s not even possible to be happier.” Tears slid helplessly down the sides of her face and trickled ticklishly into her ears. “What happened?”

But now, trying to pick up where her life left off, remembering her life minus the last ten years proves incredibly difficult. She woke up from a bump to the head thinking she was still in her 20′s, newly married (and DEEPLY in love), and pregnant with her first baby. In reality, she was almost 40, recently separated (from said love of her life per her recollection)…

My husband just yelled at me like I was his worst enemy. My lovely Nick. My Nick. I want to tell him about it, because he’d be so angry if he ever heard somebody speak to me like that. He’s the first person I want to tell when somebody upsets me; my foot pressing on the accelerator, desperate to get home from work just to tell him, the moment I tell him, the moment his face lights up with fury on my behalf, it’s better, it’s fixed.

Nick, you will never believe how this man spoke to me. You will want to punch him in the nose when you hear. Except it’s so strange, because it was you, Nick, you were the man.

and had THREE!!! children that she didn’t remember at all.

Alice turned the photo back over and looked again at the three children.

I have never seen you before in my life.

*ooooooomph* right? Because she could not understand what could have possibly gone so wrong that she would ever be divorcing from her husband.

“…we’re not getting a divorce, and that’s final.”

“Hooray!” said her mother. “I’m so glad you’ve lost your memory. This accident is going to turn out to be a blessing in disguise.”

“Well, there’s only one tiny problem with all that, isn’t there?” said Elisabeth.


“Nick has still got his memory.”

Despite a few moments where I found the perspective jumps, and the lengthy “life” moments drawn-out, in the grand scheme of things, I still enjoyed the entire trajectory that the story took, especially once the ending fully revealed itself. I get it. ALL of it. And it tricked me… THREE TIMES!!!!!!! Which I can especially appreciate, because a time or two, I was fairly distraught.

And you know what? At first, I was confused (and even annoyed) each time we switched POV. Not only were we following Alice’s current life (the main character) but that of her sister. She was a HUGE part of her story and had her own tragedy to tell…

I was embarrassed that it had happened twice in almost exactly the same way. I felt as if I was wasting people’s time, constantly turning up for ultrasounds of dead babies. What? You thought you had a real live baby in there? Don’t be ridiculous. Not you. You’re not a proper woman with these half-hearted, faintly ridiculous attempts to have a baby. There are women out there with proper swollen pregnant stomachs and live kicking babies.

(let alone their sweet wise “grandmother” that had a good grasp on things). I found the rhythm. The extra perspectives gave this story (and this main character) depth and reality. And certainly helped fill in the blanks.

A trajectory not only into her marriage and the current outcome, but into who she was and who she has become over the last decade. No longer the twenty-something carefree dreamer, but now (per her entourage) the anal-retentive perfectionist and controller of all things.

Oh Lord. It sounded horrendous. She’d become one of those volunteering, involved type of people. She was probably really proud and smug; she’d always known she had a tendency toward smugness. She could just imagine herself swanning about in her beautiful clothes.

How did she become who she became, and why? And is “who she is now” such a bad thing after all?

“But Nick,” she began.

“What?” he said grimly, irritably. He really didn’t like her. It wasn’t just that he didn’t love her anymore. He didn’t even like her.

“We were so happy.”


Quite the lengthy personal… totally emotional love story that DID actually give me that “After I Do” feel. I can say that I personally LOVED the ending and the WHY and HOW to that ending. It fits, it’s perfect and it’s real.

“Maybe this memory loss is sort of a good thing because it will help you see things more objectively without your mind being cluttered with everything that’s happened over the last ten years. And once you get your memory back, you’ll still have a different perspective and you and Nick will be able to work things out without all the fighting.”

This one totally kept me guessing!

Amy: How can I sum up the end of What Alice Forgot…


I feel like my head is spinning. Maybe the wine isn’t helping.

Yep, wine was a bad idea with how this book finished up. I just went through a whirlwind of emotions in the last few chapters, from giddy to anxious to “WHAT?!?” to glorious relief.

One more glass of wine then I’m callin’ it a night.

LOL Amy!!!! This was a fun buddy-read indeed, and I’m 100% in agreeance with you! :D

4 stars  - I dunno. It’s a 5-star quality book in writing AND story. Wonderfully written, quirky and funny, emotional and real, but the perspective jumps and the drawn out “living” had me skimming at times. Er… maybe I should make it 4.5 stars? I dunno… I’m gonna think on it.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy June 27, 2016 at 11:08 PM

GAH Maryse…seriously, how do you do it? Dissect books so articulately? Oh yeah, that’s why you have this awesome blog and all these fun book reviews. *snort* ;)

This is only the second book of hers I’ve read, but the other one (Big Little Lies) was written in multiple POVs, which gave it it’s character and quirkiness. Honestly, I think you would have fun with that one because it wasn’t focused solely on one MC (and holy moly, I was literally snorting out loud with that one even though it was centered around a death) but rather the bigger issue which they were all a part of in some way, instead of like this one where it was the story of one couple’s marital issues but with a couple other POVs thrown in. I’m not sure if I really liked the other POVs thrown in like that with this story. Yeah, pretty sure I’m leaning towards not. BUT it didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying all the feels of it!

Thanks for another great buddy read! *huge squeezy hugs*

DG June 28, 2016 at 10:51 AM

Finished this one last night..agreed definitely a 4 star! All those heart wrenching words…gah! To have your best friend, your soulmate, your champion…speak to you as if he hates you…gahhh! Totally was in tears when Olivia asked if Alice remembered her!!!! Throughly enjoyed the ride with this one!

Maryse June 28, 2016 at 11:42 AM

And I read her “The Husband’s Secret” and it TOO hd multiple POV’s but they were SO warranted, since they all culminate into the WHOLE story once the end is revealed… even the strangers. So multiple POVs work and make things so gooooood… just not as much for THIS one.

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