Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Audiobook Reviews: The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty and Leaving Home by Jodi Picoult

Title: The Last Anniversary
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 3rd March 2014 (1st published 2005)
Time: 14hrs 55mins
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Book Source: Library borrow - Borrow Box

Synopsis: "I'll tell you something, something important. Love is a decision. Not a feeling. That's what you young people don't realise. That's why you're always off divorcing each other. No offence, dear."

So decrees the formidable Connie Thrum of Scribbly Gum Island. She is the chief decision-maker of a rather unconventional family and her word is law. It's been over 70 years since Connie and her sister Rose visited their neighbours and found the kettle boiling and a baby waking for her feed, but no sign of her parents. The 'Munro Baby Mystery' still hasn't been solved and tourists can visit the abandoned home, exactly as it was found in 1932.

But now Connie has passed away and the island residents ponder her legacy. Sophie Honeywell is looking down the barrel of her 40th birthday and still hoping for that fairytale ending. Her beautiful new friend Grace, the Munro Baby's grand daughter, can't tell anyone what she hopes for. It would be too shocking.

Meanwhile, a frumpy housewife makes a pact with a stranger, an old lady starts making her own decisions and a family secret finally explodes on an extraordinary night of mulled wine, fire-eating, and face-painting -  The Last Anniversary.

My Thoughts:
The Husband's Secret was a favourite read in 2013, I also really enjoyed What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies, but The Last Anniversary ... not so much. Liane Moriarty is a fave Australian author so believe me I really wanted to like this one more. I think being one of her earlier novels it fell short in comparison to her newer work and my high expectations.  

I figured out the Munro Baby 'mystery' fairly early which didn't really bother me as I thought I'd be pulled in to the lives and relationships of this eccentric extended 'family'. Sadly, few held my interest. I normally find eccentric, odd, quirky quite endearing but many of the characters felt two dimensional and some were just plain horrid. 

What I did like was Moriarty's addressing of post natal depression and the crushing actions some inflict on those they purportedly love. 

As always, Caroline Lee does a wonderful job with narration but it pains me to say that just wasn't enough to get this one over the line. 

Don't let me put you off, from a quick look at reviews on Goodreads you either love or loathe The Last Anniversary and it won't put me off reading more of Moriarty's backlist while I wait for a new book to hit shelves. 

Title: Leaving Home
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Non-Fiction/Short Story
Publication Date: 18th October 2011 
Time: 1hr 25mins
Narrator: Jodi Picoult
Book Source: Library borrow - Borrow Box

Synopsis: Leaving Home brings together three, previously published short pieces, each dealing with a variation on the theme of leaving home.

The first, "Weights and Measures," deals with the tragic loss of a child; the second is a non-fiction letter Picoult wrote to her eldest son as he left for college; and, "Ritz" tells the story of a mother who takes the vacation all mothers need sometime.

Jodi Picoult has the remarkable ability to portray an event's key moments and feelings in a potent narration that tugs at the heartstrings.

Leaving Home's three emotionally charged stories deal with a gamut of pain, regret, unconditional love, memory, motherhood, and friendship that the author renders almost palpably. 

My Thoughts:
Leaving Home packs a big emotional punch for such a small package. Three short pieces on the theme of leaving home in one way or another. At just 1hr and 25mins, it's a super quick listen beautifully narrated by the author.   

Weights and Measures: opens with "The loudest sound in the world is the absence of a child." This could not be more true. Parents grieving the loss of their child, there is no worse pain. I was in tears for much of this story, the loss of my daughter forever changed me. I thought the symbolism of growing from or being reduced by loss, interesting but with or without it, the pain resonated. 

Jodi Picoult's letter to her son as he left home for college was beautiful and very touching ... I shed a few more tears. She recalls his arrival in the world, her love, fears, hopes and dreams for him, advice and life lessons. You raise a child to send them off into the world but I don't think I was quite so brave when my youngest son moved out of home.  

Ritz: the story of a mother who runs away from home takes a vacation on her own, told from the perspective of her 15 year old daughter. I understood the overwhelmed, unappreciated feeling, wanting to escape responsibilities but the way this mother just upped and left was not a 'vacation' it was a little cruel. Everyone needs 'me' time and yes the family coped with her unplanned absence but for me the end didn't justify the means. And the father mentioned things that had me thinking there was more going on but the length of the story prevented exploration of it. 


  1. Bummer to the first one and the second one sounds good!!!!!!

  2. Maybe even I could figure out the mystery then too

  3. Hmm don't think I have seen a 21/2 from you since reading your blog. First Anniversary sits in my wish list over at Audible, but will wait for now, although as you say, books strike everyone differently.
    Jodi P one, very brave of you to read it and they sound interesting stories.

  4. I'm sorry to see that Liane Moriarty's book didn't resonate with you. I have The Husband's Secret but haven't read it, yet. I loved Big Little Lies. I really want to read this one from Jodi Piccoult, too.

  5. Bummer about The Last Anniversary, I really liked her earlier books :(

  6. I'm yet to read any Moriarty but I keep saying I will.... Argh!


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