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Monday, February 1, 2016

'Three Wishes' by Liane Moriarty


From the BLURB:

Three sisters, one birthday, one little problem ...

It happens sometimes that you accidentally star in a little public performance, your very own comedy, tragedy or melodrama.

The three Kettle sisters have been accidentally starring in public performances all their lives, affecting their audiences in more ways than they'll ever know. This time, however, they give a particularly spectacular show when a raucous, champagne-soaked birthday dinner ends in a violent argument and an emergency dash to the hospital.

So who started it this time? Was it Cat: full of angry, hurt passion dating back to the 'Night of the Spaghetti'? Was it Lynn: serenely successful, at least on the outside? Or was it Gemma: quirky, dreamy and unable to keep a secret, except for the most important one of all?

Whoever the culprit, their lives will have all changed dramatically before the next inevitable clash of shared genes and shared childhoods.

‘Three Wishes’ was bestselling Australian author Liane Moriarty’s very first novel, published in 2004.

So, I just learned the other day that the title of Moriarty’s new book (coming July 2016) is ‘Truly Madly Guilty’ and I am just ridiculously excited for it. I am a very big fan of Liane Moriarty’s books, which I first started reading in 2011 – I’d read four of her six published books, keeping two of her backlist in my ‘rationing reading’ pile. But upon learning the news of her forthcoming seventh book, I found myself craving her words so pulled out one of those books I was rationing.

‘Three Wishes’ was Moriarty’s first ever published book, but it absolutely stands against all her others, including her most recent New York Times-Bestselling titles. Moriarty definitely sticks to themes that clearly fascinate her – revolving around families and secrets – what’s sort of amazing though, is that in each book I read she finds new cracks and crannies, and wonderful ways to break these themes wide open.

‘Three Wishes’ is about triplets Lyn, Cat and Gemma – and a year in their lives when each one goes off the rails in big and little ways. Cat’s learning that her happy marriage to the perfect guy is anything but, Lyn’s need to be a Highly Effective Person is making her panic, and a previous relationship has made Gemma scared to put down roots and commit to a life-plan. Readers are introduced to the three sisters on the night everything implodes – at their birthday celebration at a restaurant, which leads to a very public meltdown – then backtracks to the beginning of the year when everything first started fraying.

So – fair warning – I have cried while reading every Liane Moriarty book, but I cried the most while reading ‘Three Wishes’. Just something about this one really got to me – particularly the character of Cat, who is just put through the wringer again and again and again in this one, and reading her many, many lows left me feeling like a giant, exposed bruise – tender to the touch. I’ve never actually wished for a sequel for any of Moriarty’s books before, but I find myself wishing for a wee sequel (or even guest-appearance in another book?!) of Cat – just to make sure she’s okay, to check in and see how she’s going.

Cat didn’t need to see her mother’s face to know the lemony expression of distaste that would be pulling at her mouth as she said the word “counselling.” Counselling was something other people did.
Cat took the cushion off her face and sat up. “People get pregnant from having sex, Mum. Not from a perfect marriage. You ought to know that.”

That being said, I also loved this book because – as with the other earlier books of Moriarty’s I’ve read – I could read the kernels of an idea in ‘Three Wishes’ that was later expanded in ‘Big Little Lies’. Gemma’s story is really only half-told in this book, partly because she’s kept this a secret from her family for so many years – but I could see Gemma’s story, in many ways, picked up and carried through to completion in ‘Big Little Lies’ which was quite cathartic for such a harrowing aspect.

I especially loved ‘Three Wishes’ because it is about sisters – and the really interesting role we each play in our families, where we tend to stick to our personality traits that were assigned to us as children. The good child, the problem child, the goofy child. Moriarty has also explored this in ‘What Alice Forgot’, exploring the fractured relationship of sisters Alice and Elisabeth – and Moriarty being one of five sisters, it’s no wonder she explores such family dynamics with nuance and cutting accuracy, and I simply adore her take on these familial lines. I also loved that ‘Three Wishes’ explores women’s infertility and craving for baby, something else the book has in common with ‘What Alice Forgot’ – it’s just a very modern problem that is fascinating to read how it causes such hairline fractures in various relationships.

I simply adored ‘Three Wishes’. When I said I was reading this one, a few people told me it’s their personal Liane Moriarty favourite and the one they go back to re-read the most. I’m not so sure my heart could handle revisiting this book (at least for a while), mostly for Cat’s collapsing year that just resonated and stung me the most. But I can see why it’s ranked so high on people’s lists, and as is always the case after reading a Moriarty book, I feel a little wrung out and invigorated now that it’s all over.

5/5 

1 comment:

  1. I thought the book would be rather far-fetched in terms of plot, but it's actually not! I really enjoyed it because I also have two sisters and the author really managed to convey the relationship 3 female siblings can share. I definitely recommend it!

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