Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Title: The Last Anniversary
Author: Liane Moriarty
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Audible
Content Alert: swearing (a pretty clean read)

Three years after Sophie Honeywell broke Thomas Gordon's heart, he calls her out of the blue and wants to meet. She knows he isn't eager to get back together, since he and his wife recently had a baby, but the truth is even more shocking than that situation would be-- Thomas's elderly aunt Connie died, and left her her home on Scribbly Gum Island (on the Hawkesbury River near Sydney, Australia). Aunt Connie and her sister Rose became famous in the 1930s, when they reported making a visit to their only neighbor on the island, to discover that the couple had disappeared without a trace, leaving their infant daughter behind. Connie and Rose named the baby Enigma and raised her as their own. Moving to the home of the Munro Baby Mystery complicates Sophie's boring, ordered life, and brings her right into the hearts of Connie's family.

Like many of Moriarty's books, The Last Anniversary centers on domestic dramas. Sophie worries that she should have settled for Thomas, because she's 39 and her biological clock is ticking. Thomas's sister Grace seems to have it all, including a crippling case of postpartum depression. Parents squabble with their children, and secrets come out. And, eventually, the Munro Baby Mystery is solved. I figured out the mystery about halfway through and enjoyed watching it tumble out. Moriarty does a lovely job managing many characters and serious themes with a lightness that works, but in this case, some of the near misses of the story (particularly Grace's story) made me squirm as a reader, and I'm not sure how Moriarty's resolution to Sophie's childlessness plays to today's audience, since the book was published ten years ago. A picky aside-- the chronology of the story doesn't seem to work here. If Enigma is 74, it seems unlikely that her grandchildren would be nearly 40.

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