Liane Moriarty is one of my favourite authors. There is something about her books that draw you in – the characters that she creates are clearly defined; she uses humour throughout; she has a lot of hints that are surprising and when she reveals the truth of them in her narrative, they have the force of depth charges, exploding at the right time with a narrative nudge; she doesn’t baulk from addressing sensitive subjects like domestic abuse and post-partum depression, murder and sexual assault.
In The Last Anniversary, she has chosen as her setting an island in the middle of a river near Sydney, fictional of course, and as the characters all live there, this is the centre of the action. She gives all of the characters a voice at different times during the book but we are mainly in the head of Sophie, who is a former friend and girlfriend to Veronika and Thomas respectively, two of the grandchildren of the Munro baby.
The Munro Baby Mystery needs a brief explanation: it is one which generates income for the family as they arrange tourist visits for the curious and centres around the discovery of the aptly named Enigma, who was found in the abandoned Munro house by Connie and Rose, as young women. They decided to look after Enigma and she becomes part of the family. The mystery of her abandonment is at the heart of the book.
When Sophie becomes part of island life, despite her rejection of Thomas in the past, we learn a lot more about the family who consist of, in total, Connie, Rose, Enigma, Margie, Laura, Grace, Thomas and Veronika. Sophie’s biological clock is ticking and she is in a relationship drought. Could it be that she finds love on the island? Sophie’s love life or lack of it is part of the story of the book and it is difficult not to will her into finding “Mr. Right”.
This is a book with warmth and humour throughout. I liked the way that Moriarty tackles Grace’s inability to bond with her baby, showing a brutally honest picture of how, for some women after giving birth, bringing that little one home is a struggle. Moriarty’s strength is showing strong women in her books who have conquered their past or have muddled on regardless, even if it has shaped them in some way.
A good read.