What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty opens with an interesting premise: Alice Love falls off her spin bike, hits her head, and forgets the previous 10 years of her life. A lot has happened in that time. At 29, she was newly pregnant and madly in love with her husband. At 39, she was a stressed out mother, and on her way to divorce.

It’s fun for a little while. I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, and what would she say/act/do if she could inhabit my body right now? But this book is so focused on the idea that women are best when both a mother and a wife that I almost stopped reading it. I’ve known for a long time that I don’t want children, and I don’t see marriage as something to strive for just for the sake of being partnered up. I usually don’t mind reading books about motherhood and marriage (as my love of Little Fires Everywhere shows), but What Alice Forgot hones in on women needing these things to be happy to such a level that I soured on the book by the (unfulfilling) conclusion.

What Alice Forgot was published in 2009. The book that came before this, The Hypnotist’s Love Story, published in 2011, leaned into the same idea — and I noted that in my review earlier this year. Fortunately, Moriarty seems to have moved away from this stance, at least with what I read in Big Little Lies (2014) and Nine Perfect Strangers (2018). Maybe she had something to get out of her system, or evolved her views, or realized that these ideas of what women want are not universal. That’s good for her, and for readers too.

I’ve had a run of underwhelming fiction lately, haven’t I! Hopefully I strike gold soon.

Nail polish: Bee Unapologetic by OPI.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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