One of my favorite author discoveries in the last few years has been Liane Moriarty. Me and everyone else, it seems, as this Australian author has suddenly exploded in popularity with her last few books. I was so taken with What Alice Forgot that I went right out and read every one of the six novels Moriarty has published. And all six are HIGHLY entertaining. Every one. Her entire canon. How often is that the case? Almost never, I tell you. I haven't been this excited about a current pop writer since Tana French (who I also love, although the two are very different.)
Liane Moriarty books are a very specific kind of niche. I suppose if you were being snobby about it, they might be considered chick lit, as they're written for a certain kind of suburbanite woman, about a certain kind of suburbanite woman, and they're on the light side. But don't let those generalities deter you if you're not typically into this genre, as I'm not and I love these books. They're smarter than they might appear, the latter few more so than the earlier ones.
Moriarty's gift is her ability to make the characters seem like your friends, your sisters, your neighbors. I know all these women. I am these women (like it or not), and reading their stories is like hearing the best inside gossip story that has ever been passed around. Even though I whole-heartedly recommend Liane Moriarty books for any escapist weekend or vacation pick, I have my favorites. Here's the complete guide to Liane Moriarty's 6 novels, in order:
What Alice Forgot. Start here. This is actually not my favorite Moriarty book (Big Little Lies holds this title), but I think it's the best one to start with because it hooks you in to her story telling, and it was the most thought-provoking of the group. Two years later, and I'm still thinking about and talking about this book, which centers on a woman who falls and wakes up thinking she's ten years younger, a childless newlywed. She truly cannot understand what has happened in the intervening years, even when it is spelled out to her by those who watched it happen in real time. This is a fascinating look at personal evolution.
Big Little Lies. My personal favorite of the whole bunch, I wanted to live in this story. Even though these women were ridiculous and sad, I knew exactly where they were coming from, and I wanted to go through it with them. This is also the best written of her books (which makes sense, as it's the latest), and, as usual, the characters stand out as both very normal and very special. I loved this book.
The Hypnotist's Love Story. Based on the title, I thought maybe I wasn't going to like this book, but I ended up enjoying it very much. This is about a female stalker, and though you really, really don't want to relate to this pathetic and somewhat pathological woman, you do. And that is creepy and thrilling. Mainly you just want everyone to be happy and healthy in this story, which seems impossible from about page 3. (The Hypnotist's Love Story is only $7 on kindle.)
The Husband's Secret. Most people seem to like The Husband's Secret more than I did. It consistently ranks higher on Moriarty fans' lists than it does on mine. The purposeful tension in this book made me uncomfortable, and the main character was my least favorite of all the novels. However, like every other Moriarty book, it was still enjoyable and she kept me guessing on some of the twists until the very end. (The Husband's Secret is only $7 on kindle.)
Three Wishes. This little story about a set of triplets is Moriarty's first novel, and while I browsed a few critiques of it, I found it entertaining. I was invested in the girls, their relationships, and their spouses. You can see right from the outset that Moriarty has that talent of writing just like you're in the women's heads, and this was a short, easy read.
The Last Anniversary. This was my least favorite of the six books, mainly because I guessed the ending long (long) before it was revealed. Still, there was (as usual) something very clever about the premise, and I got emotionally involved in this family and their tiny little community. I suggest you read this one last, after you've exhausted all other Moriarty tales and are waiting for more. It's still satisfying in her very particular way.
If you haven't read Liane Moriarty yet, I highly recommend you do yourself an escapist favor and purchase one now. If, like me, you've binged on this author, tell me your favorites and how you would rank them!