The Last Anniversary had it all, and I loved it all.
This is the fourth Moriarity book I’ve read, and my favorite by far thus far (and it wasn’t just because the protagonist, Sophie Honeywell, reminded me of an even more scatterbrained version of myself and a modern-day Mary Richards).
I liked that Sophie’s manhunt to have a baby before forty was more in the background than the foreground, so this was definitely not a formulaic chick lit romance. Sophie’s love life being in the air was actually okay with me, as I think she is still trying to figure herself out. However, I did think one of her final prospects was quite weird.
I have to say, though, that when I arrived on page 13, where the story reverts back to 1932, I had my doubts; I don’t mind switching points-of-view (that seems to be the thing now), I just mind switching time periods, as one time (almost always the one set in the contemporary) is almost always more interesting than the other. I like characters I can relate to, as well as time periods I am familiar with (or enjoy being in, which is the present time). Even though this small portion of the book was shown rather than told, I preferred the secondhand account of this time from one of the characters (a story within a story, if you will).
The “fake news” angle was intriguing; if a reporter’s first story is based on a lie (unbeknownst to him/her), does that make their career a lie? And is a mystery, once solved, still intriguing? Is a solved crossword puzzle still fun? This is why conspiracy theories about JFK and Marilyn Monroe still exist. Imagine what a boring world it would be if we knew everything about everything. Intellectual curiosity and the process of discovery are the herbs and spices of life.
The only thing that didn’t ring true was one of names: Enigma. That moniker just never fit her character (she was more of a Hazel or Flossie), though I understand why she was named that–it was all to add to “the mystery” (which was really quite something in how it was pulled off).
I also struggled here and there differentiating between Rose and Enigma–their voices seemed so similar–like they were around the same age (when there were about fifteen or so years separating them). I guess by the time you hit seventy, you sound the same as if you were eighty-five.
The coolest thing about The Last Anniversary is that something that was referenced early on (I won’t say what because then it won’t be as much fun) was referenced again in an unexpected way. This, for me, was like finding an old photograph I’d forgotten all about but suddenly remembered upon seeing it again.
The description of the alleged crime scene and the anniversary’s festivities were so richly detailed, I felt like I was right there.
Moriarty’s characters are multi-layered and real. The residents of this island were like one giant, dysfunctional family. I didn’t fall in love with them all (nor are we supposed to), but I found myself wishing I was amongst them on Scribbly Gum Island. I even looked the island up to see if it was real.
I wish it was.
A few notes: I thought Grace’s resolution was wrapped up too neatly, but maybe motherhood does happen that way in real life for some women (even without extra help). However, I thought using Grace’s storybook character as a reflection for how she was feeling added a little something to the story.
The book is fairly lighthearted throughout, but one of the funniest scenes is when Veronika is trying to tell everyone her big news and nobody cares.
As for Margie, female authors really need to stop using the cliche of the self-loathing fat woman. I doubt most fat women are happy with their bodies, but it seems like anytime a female character is fat, their weight is the biggest (pardon the pun) definer of them. Then, when they lose weight, they magically start “coming into their own.” And it’s always about how much better they look (usually in a bikini), not how much better they feel.
In the case of The Last Anniversary, there were just enough characters and points-of-view without there being too many. This is the first of Moriarty’s books (that I’ve read) in which I felt bereft after finishing it, for I was left not wanting the story to end.