Saturday, January 7, 2012
What Alice Forgot
Amy Einhorn Books, 2011
When Alice falls off her exercise bike during a spinning class, her return to consciousness is missing one thing: the last ten years of her life. She tells the paramedics she is 29 and pregnant and is astonished when her husband is rude to her on the phone. Imagine her shock when her sister, who is acting oddly, (why does everyone keep looking at her strangely?) tells Alice that she and Nick are separated and fighting for custody of their three children. THREE children, she thinks? How on earth did she even raise one baby, let alone three? And what happened to the relationship she shared with Elizabeth, who used to be her closest friend and ally? But the thing she just can’t get over is the problem with her marriage. Nick is the best thing that ever happened to her; she is madly in love with him and can’t even bear the thought of not being married. She doesn’t know what happened (does it involve this Gina that everyone keeps asking her about?) but she knows if she just can talk to him, everything will be fine.
As Alice relearns her 39-year-old self, she discovers that she has mastered several new skills in the past ten years: purchase and apply expensive make-up; remodel and lavishly decorate the old house she and Nick bought ten years ago; lead a large volunteer corps; exercise religiously; and that she has a new boyfriend. She also has become very thin, apparently by not eating anything of substance. She has to be introduced to her children, who quickly take advantage of her lack of knowledge and experience by telling her that they normally stay up all hours watching television and eating junk food. Nick, meanwhile, is not quite as receptive to her old charms as she thought, but he’s warming a little to the idea of a new Alice. Meanwhile, at some point in the past she somehow started to organized a giant event that everyone keeps pestering her about – the world’s biggest lemon meringue pie – and she has no idea what to do and isn't sure she really cares all that much anyway.
While at first glance you may think this novel is light and frivolous, it is anything but. Alice has turned into quite a hardened and bitter woman at age 39 – and a person that the 29-year-old Alice really doesn’t care for much. Neither does anyone else, apparently. In fact, the reader will quite like the “new” Alice and hope that she never regains her memory if it means her and Nick won’t get back together. And yet, she has lost so much of her past that she really misses, like the birth of her three children and all that was involved in their growing up. And what happened with this Gina, who must have once been her best friend. How could she not even remember her?
I was entranced with this book. I couldn’t stop reading it. I had to know what happened to Alice and Nick in the past to destroy their marriage, whether they would get back together, what happened with Gina, her relationship with the three children, and Elizabeth (I can’t forget Elizabeth!). Written with humor and sensitivity, this novel succeeds on every level and is thoroughly satisfying.
Other novels by this author:
Three Wishes (2004)
The Last Anniversary (2005)
Other titles you may enjoy:
Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella (2008)
Awakening in the hospital after a car crash believing that she is a single, twenty-five-year-old sales associate, Lexi discovers that she has lost three years in her life and she is married to a handsome millionaire, but her perfect new life soon begins to go awry.
Waking Up in Dixie by Haywood Smith (2010)
Trapped in a loveless marriage thirty years after escaping her unpromising small hometown, Elizabeth is shocked when her greedy husband is profoundly transformed by a stroke that compels him to correct his ways by blackmailing their community's bad guys.
Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler (2009)
Preparing to retire early from an unfulfilling teaching job, Liam Pennywell struggles to recall missing memories of the night before he awoke in the hospital with a head injury, an effort that leads to unexpected discoveries.