Friday, February 1, 2019

#5 [2019/CBR11] "Three Wishes" by Liane Moriarty

The first book I read by Liane Moriarty was Big Little Lies. I loved it and went on to read What Alice Forgot, The Husband's Secret, and Truly Madly Guilty. In the books I've read so far, Moriarty has a very clear pattern with her plots. She begins with a vague description of some kind of "event" that has occurred, but only gives the reader enough details to pique their interest. Then she goes back however many months or years are necessary, and we learn about the characters, their motivations, and the circumstances leading up to that event. In Big Little Lies, we learn that something went wrong at an Elementary School fundraising talent show and someone died. In Truly Madly Guilty an "incident" occurs at a barbecue. And in Three Wishes (2004), three women celebrating their birthday at a restaurant have a public fight that eventually involves a trip to the hospital.

I think Moriarty sticks with this scheme because it works. I have consistently found her books to be entertaining page-turners with good characters and true, meaningful emotion. They are also funny and original with insights into the "regular" lives of families and mothers in suburban Australia. I did find that Moriarty's conceit stretched a little thin in Truly Madly Guilty, which is probably why I took a short break from her books. But I really enjoyed Three Wishes, and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

We learn that the three women fighting at the restaurant are actually triplets. Two of them are identical, Cat and Lyn, while one of them is fraternal, Gemma. Lyn is organized and motivated. She runs her own business, and is married with one young daughter, a hormonal, teenage step-daughter, and a difficult ex-wife. Her husband is some sort of successful tech guy and very supportive. Cat is dealing with adultery and the break up of her marriage, while Gemma appears to be an unmotivated wanderer. Since her fiance was killed in a traffic accident ten years ago, she's been a serial monogamist with no relationship lasting more than six months. She is also a professional house sitter, moving from one place to another without any roots.

Family is a big theme in this book. The divorce of the triplets' parents and its effects are revisited throughout the book. The sisters' relationship is incredibly close and supportive but also comes with the claustrophobic baggage of expectations and loss of privacy. Circumstances and well-explained coincidences, including pregnancies, complicate their relationship even further.

Throughout this book, a small part of the story is told through the eyes of strangers when they see the three sisters together. It's an interesting perspective as far as what one thinks of oneself and what others may see. I thought it added an often amusing, and sometimes thought-provoking, dimension to this book. On the whole, this is up there as one of my favorite Moriarty books (although Big Little Lies is still on top of the list).

I liked all three sisters, but I found Cat to be the most interesting and heartbreaking of characters. It felt like every woman's nightmare. She loses a baby. Her husband cheats on her. She tries to make it work, but it turns out he doesn't want her anymore. I felt her pain viscerally. The only problem I had with the book was how easily Gemma got over her abusive relationship. It felt like something that she'd have to talk about with someone. Even if she chose not to tell her sisters, I hope that Gemma explained everything to Charlie. I think it would show that she really does understand that it wasn't her fault, and Charlie deserves to understand why she treated him the way she did.

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