What would you do if you forgot the last 10 years of your life? Alice has yet to answer this question. The new book of the bestselling Australian author Liane Moriarty "What Alice Forgot" is now on the book market.
An extraordinary novel about the things we choose to remember and those we struggle to forget.
A compelling novel, possessing all the qualities that make a good novel a great one.
A simultaneously funny and touching novel about a woman trying to unravel the mystery of her own life.
Liane Moriarty creates an intriguing multi-layered novel that will linger in readers' minds long after they have read it.
About the book
Alice is a few weeks away from her fortieth birthday. During a workout at the gym, she falls, hits her head and loses consciousness. When she regains her composure, Alice is convinced she is twenty-nine. Happily married to Nick and pregnant with their first child.
She gradually realizes that the accident has erased the last ten years of her life. And that the cheerful girl has turned into a domineering and irritable middle-aged woman. A woman in great shape who wears expensive clothes and jewelry and whose schedule is filled to the last minute. A woman who is going through a divorce and is fighting a contentious custody battle for her three children, whose existence she does not remember.
In ten years, Alice's life has changed beyond recognition. She has turned into a person she barely recognizes and doesn't like at all. Is it possible to start over?
Will losing her memory turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her?
About the author
Liane Moriarty was born in Sydney in 1966, the eldest of six children. He received a master's degree in creative writing from one of Australia's leading universities, after which he began working in the field of marketing and advertising. Her first four novels enjoyed success in her native Australia, but her big break came with My Husband's Secret in 2013. The novel topped the Australian, English and American bestseller lists. It has been translated into 38 languages and has sold over 2 million copies to date.
Today, forty-nine-year-old Leanne lives in Sydney with her second husband and their two young children, Anna and George. Her latest book, Big Little Lies, will be made into a TV series starring Hollywood stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.
“We must have had a big fight,” Alice said to Elizabeth. - It is not possible to divorce. We would never divorce.
That word - divorce - was very ugly; her lips curled like a fish at the second syllable. Divorce. No. Not them either. Off!
Nick's parents divorced when he was a child. He remembered everything. Whenever they heard of a couple getting divorced-even if it was a fake, ridiculous marriage of a celebrity couple-Nick would always remark sadly, like an Irish grandmother, "Ah, that's the sin!" He believed in marriage. He thought that people give up their relationships too easily. He had once told Alice that if they ever had problems in their marriage, he would do anything to make things right. Alice didn't take him seriously because she didn't need to; marriage problems they could always be allowed a few hours in separate rooms, a hug in the hallway, the silent slip of chocolate under the elbow, or even a gentle, meaningful nudge in the ribs that meant, "Let's make up."
Divorce was something of a phobia for Nick, his only phobia! If it was true that they were divorcing, he probably felt crushed, crushed. What he had feared most had happened. Her heart ached for him.
– Did we fight that bad? Alice asked her sister. He was going to get to the bottom of things and end this.
– I don't think it's just one fight, it's probably a collection of small issues. Honestly, you haven't shared much about it with me. He just called me the day after Nick moved out and said…
– He moved out? He really moved out of our house?
Her mind could not contain it; he tried to imagine how it could happen: Nick throwing things in the suitcase, slamming the door behind him, a yellow cab waiting outside, it had to be yellow, like the American ones, because it wouldn't be real, it would be a scene from a film with heartbreaking music. This was not her life.
– Alice, you've been separated for six months, but once you get your memory back, you'll realize that everything's okay because you've already accepted it. This is what you want. Last week I asked you, "Are you sure you want it?" and you said, "Absolutely sure. This marriage is long dead and buried."
Bullshit! That couldn't be true. Alice tried to hide the anger in her voice.
– You're making it up to make me feel better, aren't you? I would never use the expression "dead and buried". I don't talk like that. Please don't make it up. It's hard for me anyway.
– Oh, Alice, – Elizabeth exclaimed sadly, – it's all because of the head injury, you just… Oh, hello!
A nurse that Alice had never seen before vigorously pulled back the curtain of their cubicle and Elizabeth greeted her with undisguised relief.
– How are you feeling? – The nurse wrapped the blood pressure cuff around her arm again.
“I'm fine,” Alice replied resignedly. You already knew your lesson. Blood Pressure. Pupils. Questions.
– Your blood pressure has risen – noted the nurse and recorded the data on the card.
“My husband just yelled at me like I was his worst enemy. My beloved Nick. My Nick. I want to tell him about this because he will be very angry if he hears someone else talking to me like that. He's the first person I want to tell if someone upsets me; my foot is on the accelerator desperately to get home from work and tell him, the moment I tell him, the moment his face burns with anger at me, I feel better now, it's all right now."
Nick, you won't believe how this man talks to me! You'll want to smack his face when you hear about it. Except it's weird because it was you, Nick, you were that man.
– I experienced several shocks – Elizabeth explained.
– You really need to calm down. The nurse leaned closer and made a very slight motion with her fingers to open Alice's eyelids as she shined her miniature flashlight into each pupil. The sister's perfume reminded Alice of something-someone-but the feeling disappeared as soon as the woman moved away. Was this what her life would be like from now on, a constant, nagging feeling of deja vu, like hives? "Now I'm going to ask you a few annoying questions again, if you'll allow me." What's your name?
– Alice Mary Love.
– Where are you and what are you doing here?
– I'm in the Royal North Shore Hospital because I hit my head in the gym.
– What day is today?
– Friday, May 2nd… 2008.
– OK, excellent! The nurse turned to Elizabeth as if expecting her to be impressed. “We're just checking to see if her cognitive abilities have been affected by the trauma.
Elizabeth blinked in annoyance.
– Yes. Okay, great, but she still thinks it's 1998.
Traitor, Alice was angry.
– Not true! - objected. – I know it's 2008! I just said it.
– But he still doesn't remember anything after 1998. Or almost nothing. He cannot remember his children. She doesn't remember her marriage breaking up.
Her marriage has broken up. Her marriage was something that could fall apart like overcooked chicken.
Alice closed her eyes and imagined Nick's face, finely wrinkled from sleep, lying next to her on the pillow on a Sunday morning. Sometimes in the morning his hair would snap on top. "You look like an Indian," Alice laughed the first time she witnessed this phenomenon. "Of course," he replied. "It's Sunday. Indian's day." Even with her eyes closed, he knew when she was awake, when she was lying there looking at him, hoping for a cup of tea in bed. "No," he answered before even asking."Don't even think about it, woman!" But he always prepared for her.
Alice would give anything in the world to be lying in bed next to Nick now hoping for a cup of tea. Maybe he was tired of making her tea? Was that all? Did she take it for granted? What did you imagine? That she's some princess lying in bed waiting for tea to be served without even brushing her teeth? She wasn't such a beauty that she could get away with such behavior. She would have to jump in before he woke up, do her hair and makeup, make him pancakes with strawberry jam, wear a long lace nightgown. That's how a marriage is made, for God's sake! As if there wasn't enough advice in every women's magazine she read. That was a basic rule! She felt as if she had been unforgivably careless – sloppy! – with the most precious, the most wonderful gift she had ever received.
Alice could hear Elizabeth talking quietly and insistently to the nurse, asking her if she could see the doctor, wondering what tests had been done.
– How do you know if she doesn't have a clot in her brain? Elizabeth's voice rose hysterically and Alice smiled inwardly. Drama Queen!
(Actually, isn't there really a clot? A dark, sinister thing that's hitting her head like a bat? Yeah, they really need to check that out!)
Maybe Nick got bored of her. Was that all? Once, in high school, she overheard a girl say, “Oh, Alice? She's cool, but she's bland."
Inconspicuous. The girl had said it without any malice, just stating a fact, but fourteen-year-old Alice froze at the official confirmation of what she had always suspected. Of course she was boring, even she was bored! The other people had somewhat more interesting characters. That same year, a boy at the bowling alley leaned over to her, his breath sweet from the car, and blurted out, "You have a pig face." It also confirmed something else she had always suspected: her mother was wrong when she said her nose looked like a cute button; it was not a nose, but a nose.
(The boy had a scrawny face and small eyes like a rat's. She was twenty-five when it occurred to her that she might have insulted him with some animal comparison, but the rule in life was that boys decided whether the girls were pretty; it didn't matter how ugly they themselves were.)
Maybe Nick was bringing her tea one morning and suddenly a diaper lifted from his eyes and he thought, "Hey, wait a minute, how did I end up married to that bland, pig-faced slacker?".
Oh my god, are all these horrible things really so fresh and part of her life? She was a mature person; at twenty nine! She had just recently been on her way home from the hairdresser's in a great mood and a group of teenage girls had passed her by. The sound of their high-pitched giggles had caused her to send a message back in time to her fourteen-year-old self: “Don't worry, everything will be fine. You've got character, you've got a job, you know what to do with your hair and you've got a boyfriend who thinks you're beautiful."She had felt so complete, as if all the teenage melancholy and failed relationships before Nick were part of a perfectly acceptable plan leading up to the moment when she would be twenty-nine and everything would finally be just as it should be.
Thirty nine. Not twenty nine. She was thirty-nine. And that day with the teenage girls must have been ten years ago.
Elizabeth came back and sat next to Alice.
– Will try to bring the doctor again. Apparently it's pretty serious because you're under surveillance. The doctor was "extremely busy" but she would "see what he could do". I actually think my chances are zero.
– Please tell me it's not true. This for Nick.
– Oh Alice…
– Because I love him. I really love it. I love him so much!
– Loved it before.
– No, I love it now. I know it is.
Elizabeth clicked her tongue, a sound that was filled with sympathy, and raised her hands in a hopeless gesture.
– When you regain your memory…
– But we are so happy! - interrupted Alice frantically, trying to make her sister understand. "We couldn't even be happier." - Helpless tears rolled down her cheeks and the trickle tickled her ears. - What happened? Hadn't he fallen in love with another woman? Is that it?
Hardly. It was impossible. Nick's love for Alice was a fact. Fact. One must take the facts for granted. A friend once joked with Nick that he had agreed to go with Alice to a musical (even though he actually liked musicals), and Nick had shrugged his shoulders in response, “What can I do, mate? I love her more than oxygen".
Sure, Nick had had a lot of beer, but he said it in a pub when he was trying to act like a man. He loved her more than oxygen.
Now what, lest the boy no longer needs oxygen?
Elizabeth placed the back of her hand on Alice's forehead and stroked her head.
– As far as I know, there is no other woman and you are right, you two were happy and had a wonderful, special relationship. I remember it. But things are changing. People change. It just happens. Life, what to do. The fact that you're getting divorced doesn't change the fact that you had such wonderful times together. I assure you, once you regain your memory, you will accept it.
– Nope. Alice closed her eyes. - There is no. I don't want to accept it.
As Elizabeth continued to caress her forehead, Alice remembered the day in her childhood when she had been brought home after a birthday party, still excited from the party. She carried a balloon and a basket made of shiny cardboard and filled with lollipops. Elizabeth had met her at the door and told her, "Come with me."
Alice had followed her, ready for the new game Elizabeth had organized and ready to share the lollipops. As they passed the living room, her balloon bouncing behind her, she noticed that it was full of strange adults surrounding their mother, who was sitting on the couch with her head cocked at an unusual angle (weird, maybe she had a headache). Alice didn't call her because she didn't want to talk to all these unfamiliar adults, and followed Elizabeth down the hall to her room, where her sister said, “I'm going to tell you something that's going to upset you a lot, but I think you should be put on your pajamas and go to bed and be ready for him so he doesn't hurt you so much".
Alice didn't ask, “What? What you mean? Tell me at once!' for she was six years old and nothing bad had ever happened to her, and she always did as Elizabeth told her. So she put on her pajamas without objection, and her sister went to fill the hot water heater and wrapped it in a cover so Alice wouldn't burn. She also brought a spoonful of honey, half an aspirin tablet, warming salve, and a glass of water. All the things their mother used to do when they were sick, and Alice was dying to be sick. After Elizabeth had tucked her into bed and rubbed the salve into her chest, stroking her hair, brushing it off her forehead, just as their mother had done when one of them had her stomach down, and Alice closed her eyes, enjoying the attention, though that nothing hurt her. Then her sister murmured, “Now I have to tell you something bad. It will surprise you unpleasantly, so prepare yourself. You can suck your thumb if you want.' Alice had opened her eyes and frowned because she didn't suck her thumb anymore, well, only when she was having an extremely bad day, only the tip of it, not the whole thumb. Then Elizabeth said, "Father passed away."
Alice didn't remember what happened next or even how she felt when she heard those words. She only remembered how her sister had tried her best to protect her from the 'bad, surprising feeling'. She was already an adult when she suddenly realized that Elizabeth had also been a little girl that day. He called her on the phone to talk about it, to thank her, and the strange thing was that her sister had completely different memories of their father's death and didn't even remember putting Alice to bed.
Of course, there was also the time Elizabeth had thrown a pair of scissors that stuck in the back of Alice's neck. And yet…
Alice opened her eyes and said:
– You are a great sister.
Elizabeth removed her hand from her forehead and said flatly:
– No, I'm not.
None of them said anything for a few seconds, then Alice called:
– Are you happy Libby? Because you look…
She wanted to say, "Desperately miserable."
– I'm fine.
It was as if Elizabeth was choosing what to share and then giving up. “Just be yourself!” Alice wanted to scream.
Finally Elizabeth said:
– I guess both of our lives are not what we imagined when we were thirty.
A voice interrupted them:
– Finally! I found you! I already thought I would never find you!
A certain woman stood at the end of the bed, her face momentarily hidden by the large bouquet of yellow tulips she held solemnly in her hand.
He bent the bouquet and revealed his face. Alice blinked.