33.-35.  Three Modern Novels I Borrowed From My Sister

My dear delightful sister lent me a bunch of books to read and they’ve been languishing in my to-be-blogged pile.  In order to return what is rightfully hers, here is a post about three novels that have the common thread of my sister read them first.  

33.  The Last Anniversary, Lianne Moriarty

“Do you really think we can get away with it?”

“If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t be suggesting it, would I?”

This is the fluffiest read of the three. It's by Liane Moriarty of Big Little Lies fame, and based upon reading this I am thinking that Big Little Lies is one of those rare examples where the adaptation is better than the book.  Which isn’t to say this wasn’t a fun read, but this is pretty much fluff, and unless Moriarty’s prose really, really improves, it’s hard to imagine that her book is in the same neighborhood of HBO’s phenomenal adaptation of Big Little Lies.  

Of course that is neither here nor there, but I bring it up to note that if you are expecting something as deep and well wrought as the mini-series, you will be disappointed.  But if you are looking for a fun beach read, you could do a lot worse than The Last Anniversary.  It’s about Sophie, who broke up with her on paper perfect boyfriend Thomas, thinking she could find true love.  A year later he has married someone else, and Sophie is distressingly single. Worse, his aunt has, for reasons unknown, left her home to Sophie, on Scribbly Gum Island, home of the famous unsolved Munro Baby mystery.  Sophie finds herself being pulled into the life of Scrubbly Gum Island, and the mystery which still lingers, while trying to figure out her role in Thomas’s family.  It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty organic.  Sophie and all the characters are fun and human and messy, and the ending is suprisingly satisfying without being fairy tale.  I’m not saying I would run out to get more Moriarty (and indeed, I think I read this in January, so I obviously haven’t).  But if I came across another of her books I would definitely read it.  It was engaging and escapist.

34. The Improbability of Love, Hannah Rothschild

“It was going to be the sale of the century.”

This book has made me super mad, because it has a plot twist in it that was the plot twist I was going to use on the hypothetical mystery I have never written.  But beyond that petty point, it’s a pretty darn good read.  The book centers around a painting.  Annie McDee, who has recently rebuilt her life in London after a devastating break-up, spots the painting in a second hand shop and buys in on a whim.  It turns out that the painting is more than it seems, and soon we are drawn into the lives of the many people who become interested in it - and we even hear a bit from the painting itself.  It’s a glimpse into the mad world of high priced art, it’s a bit of a thriller, it’s a novel on the possibility of new love.  I really enjoyed it.  Also, it is on mega-sale at Amazon right now, so there is that to consider.

35. Today Will Be Different, Maria Semple

“Today will be different.”

This was my favorite of the three.  If you’ve read Where’d You Go, Bernadette, you know that Semple is a delight (unfortunately I read Bernadette during my non-blogging phase, but know I found it delightful).  This is about Eleanor Flood, whose life is a mess.  She is alienated from her formerly beloved sister, her marriage is floundering, her career as an illustrator has stalled.  She is adrift, pure and simple.  But today, she vows, will be different.  She sets the bar low - she will not swear.  She will play a board game with her son.  She will put some effort into her appearance.  She will initiate sex with her husband. 

Yet even these modest plans are derailed by life, and soon we are off, with Eleanor on a madcap journey through her day as she tries to figure out her life as best she can.  To say more would be to give away the delights of the plot, but I found spending a day with Eleanor to be an absolute delight, and in the end was reminded that we are all flawed and messy - but that maybe today will be different.  

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017