I think the second book I read last year for my very first CBR was Big Little Lies and with that, I fell in love with Liane Moriarty…for the most part (I still have two books to read of hers). I loved both Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot so much. I liked Her Husband’s Secret but didn’t love it because I didn’t really connect with the characters and the “secret” was apparent from the beginning (in my opinion). I think what Moriarty does best is build up a plot that leads to a single (often terrifying) event that brings all the characters together and all issues to a head. And she does this extremely well in The Last Anniversary.
In The Last Anniversary we are introduced to Sophie, a 39 year old career woman who longs for love and a family. She questions (but not really) if she made the right decision when she turned down her ex’s proposal as she’s not really dated over the past three years and now here he is, happily married with a baby. We meet Grace, a new mother who is suffering from (but not recognizing) postpartum depression and her husband Callum who is worried about his wife, but unsure if anything is truly wrong. Moriarty introduces us to Veronika, a pushy/prickly friend of Sophie’s (and Grace’s cousin) who is angry when she learns that Sophie has inherited her Aunt Connie’s home on Scribbly Gum island. And quintessential to the plot, we are introduced to Connie and Rose, who as young girls find an abandoned baby on their island and take her home and raise her. Now elderly, Rose and the “baby” (a 70 year old woman now) Enigma must figure out what to do without their dear sister and companion Connie. For years the women have profited off of tours of the house where the Munro baby had been found. Where had the parents gone? The kettle was on, a cake sat on the stove ready to be iced but only the baby lay in the crib when the two young girls had found her. All signs pointed to the fact that the parents loved the baby, where had they gone? The mystery behind the Munro baby is an explainable one, but it’s a secret only shared in the family once each member reaches the age of 40. But Veronika cannot wait and may bring trouble down on the family as they celebrate the anniversary of finding the Munro baby with the public.
Like all Moriarty books that I’ve read, the characters are both likable and also make questionable decisions–you know, as human beings do. You root for them, you cringe for them and you get a little bit angry at them…like with Sophie, I wanted to grab her and shake her a little. On a personal level, I had a hard time reading Grace’s story line because like her, I suffered from postpartum depression and attempted to hide it from my family due to my guilt of being a “bad mom”. Honestly, I wanted to skip over all of her parts because it just hurt to read. But I guess that’s a testament to Moriarty’s writing because she captures the feelings in a very real way. I wanted to hug Grace and tell her that it would get better…but sometimes it takes a long, long time. The mystery of the Munro baby wasn’t much of a mystery and that was ok. It seemed like there may have been too large of a cast for Moriarty to pay enough attention to each of the story lines and therefore some of them (like Veronika’s sexual revelation) seemed trite and quickly resolved. This didn’t stop the book from being an enjoyable quick read, but I wouldn’t recommend it as highly as I have with the other two of the Moriarty books that I’ve read.