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What Alice Forgot
on 28 May 2010
When Alice Love wakes up on the floor of her gym, the last thing she expects is to be told she's a 39-year-old mother of three in the middle of a divorce, particularly since Alice thinks she's 29-years-old, happily married and pregnant with her first child. It appears that Alice has had a large bump on the head and has lost the last ten years of her life. As Alice comes to terms with the fact she's not who she thinks she is, she realises she doesn't like the woman she has become. Can Alice recapture the spirit of her 29-year-old self and more importantly, can Alice recover her memories of the last 10 years of her life?
What Alice Forgot is very similar to Sophie Kinsella's tale Remember Me?, but Remember Me? is a much lighter affair (it's Sophie Kinsella after all) and What Alice Forgot is a far deeper (and longer) tale. That's no bad thing, though, as I loved both books and they both suit my tastes. Because 29-year-old Alice believes that she's happily married and pregnant with her first child, and also that she and her sister Elisabeth are close, it comes as a series of shocks to her when she realises she has three actual children and that not only does she not remember having them, she doesn't remember them period. To then learn herself and Nick, her husband, are on the brink of divorce and also that Alice and Elisabeth are as close as the North and South pole, was quite sad to read - to believe you're 29 and to suddenly age 10 years must be a pretty scary thing and Liane Moriarty managed to bring across Alice's anguish perfectly. To have three children and not even know who they are was obviously a little controversial - how can she not know her kids? - but that's the power of amnesia, it makes you forget the most simple (and important) things.
What really made the book for me though was Alice's realisation that her 39-year-old self wasn't a nice person at all. She was nothing like the 29-year-old free spirit, in fact she was the total opposite. So it was easy to see how Alice and Nick's relationship disintegrated. Alice turned into a total control freak, it seemed, and it just tore them apart. The ever-mysterious Gina certainly didn't help Nick and Alice's marriage and I was stunned at just how ferocious Nick was the first time he and Alice talked after her accident. It was clear that something had gone seriously wrong in Alice's life, something that caused her to become uptight, to argue with her husband and to practically lose contact with her beloved sister. All is revealed but not quickly. No where near quicky, in fact. A flashback or a loose mention of a name awakens something in Alice's memory and so we learn a tid-bit of Alice's life as it is now but never enough to truly hold on to. It was a very clever way of letting us all know what had happened and it certainly kept me reading.
The book is told in third-person, which I wasn't expecting, but it works well so it wasn't a problem. It's all from Alice's point of view, too. But as well as the usual narrative, there are also diary/journal type entries from Elisabeth, which confused me at first, but it soon makes sense, as well as blog entries from Frannie. All three women are experiencing troubles, some more serious than others and it was interesting to get their take on things. I particularly enjoyed Elisabeth's diary entries, they were insightful. Overall I really loved What Alice Forgot, it is certainly one of the better amnesia stories out there and I hugely enjoyed all of the 496 pages. I hugely recommend you pick this one up, as you won't regret it.