When I flipped through the Perth Writers Festival brochure I was shocked and excited to see one of my favourite author’s names. Liane Moriarty, in PERTH?!?! my mind exclaimed. I was in a year-long reading slump and decided I’d had enough. A few of Liane’s pre-Husband’s Secret novels were sitting unread on my bookshelf so I picked up the one I knew the least about (I had started reading Three Wishes a while back but I wanted to dive into something completely afresh). That book happened to be The Last Anniversary.
It all happened because of a mystery. The Munro Baby Mystery, to be specific. A baby was found in its home, the parents nowhere to be found. Alice and Jack Munro disappeared into thin air, leaving the kettle boiling for tea and a freshly baked marble cake ready for frosting. The neighbours, two teenage girls, Connie and Rose, came by to visit them and found the baby.
This mystery is the basis of every plotline and character in the novel. Connie and Rose took the baby home and looked after her as their own. They called the baby Enigma, and Enigma went and had kids, and then her two kids went and had three kids. All the kids are adults now, the youngest is in their late thirties. Suffice to say, there are a lot of characters in this book. It took me a little while to figure out who was whose daughter, who were siblings, who were cousins, etc. But obviously it was worth it to take the time to get to know the characters, because it’s Liane Moriarty and duh, the book is gonna be awesome. And it was. Awesome characters, awesome writing, awesome storyIine, awesome everything. I rated it 4.5 stars, so..
When I found out what really happened to Alice and Jack Munro, the novel that Moriarty wove with the stories and histories of the characters – none of that really lost its magic or beauty because the people were the same. The characters were written so beautifully and endearingly (even Ron! Oh my gosh) you can’t help but be charmed to your bones and love the lot of them. The characters were really the substance, and because they were placed in such a wonderfully thought out story and were delivered with such adorable, funny and clever writing, everything lifted each other and it made for a wonderful read.
My favourite character is easily Sophie, the only non-relation to the family, but the one I related to the most. Liane Moriarty doesn’t write plain old chick lit. What even is chick lit? A rom-com in the form of literature? A book most women will love? I don’t know. I put The Last Anniversary in this category because I see chick lit more as the latter. Someone might delve into the novel and see it as Sophie’s journey to finding her husband. But that’s only one thread of narrative in a much more gigantic picture. The Last Anniversary is not a light floaty read. It’s not a romantic comedy fluff piece. Moriarty writes each of the characters’ POVs, but in third person. Grace has post-natal depression. Thomas is in an unhappy marriage and is in love with someone else. Margie has self-esteem and body issues. Rose is in chronic pain. Connie is dead. Oh, I forgot to mention that didn’t I? Haha. Well, you find out about that little nugget within the first few pages anyway.
If you think you’d like a story like the one I’ve been describing, I think you’ll love this book. It’s hilarious and enchanting, but at the heart of it, real people and real issues are dealt with in a wonderful way.