I read The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty some time ago. I listened to the audiobook actually. It burns with me still today so much that I am compelled to write this post.
**Just a head’s up! This post contains mild spoilers!**
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
This is one of Moriarty’s lesser known works, shadowed by such break outs as Big Little Lies and What Alice Forgot. But it is arguably my favorite of Moriarty’s women’s fiction novels.
Sophie Honeywell inherits an old house on Scribbly Gum Island, home to the Munro baby mystery. Legend holds that a baby was discovered in the Munro house on the island when seemingly her parents had vanished.
The sisters who discovered the baby and still live on the island now run a sort of tourist attraction where people can come see where the Munro baby was discovered. The sisters and descendants carry out the tradition of the mystery by baking the same cake that was found when the baby was discovered and holding tours.
And of course, everyone has a secret.
It’s Always the Quiet Ones
This story is about Sophie and her quest to take back control of her life and make her own fortune. However, it wasn’t Sophie that drew my attention. It was Marge.
Marge is the daughter of one of the original sisters who discovered the baby, and I feel Marge in a way that is almost supernatural. I normally don’t do spoilers on this blog, but Marge’s story is peripheral to the rest of the story, so I’m happy to share.
Because I need to.
What’s the Deal with Marge
Marge is a middle-aged overweight woman shackled to an unfaithful man, living in the drudgery of a life she didn’t choose.
Raise your hand if there’s a part of you in Marge. I’ll wait.
I connected with Marge instantly for so many reasons, but mainly it was the idea of a life not turning out the way one plans. This is a theme in many stories that I connect with because my life, too, has not gone according to plan. I’m instantly drawn to characters faced with the unexpected and who triumph anyway.
Marge is just that person.
Marge carries emotional, mental, and actual baggage. She’s overweight, she’s mentally and emotionally abused by her husband, and she feels worthless for having stayed stuck on the same track her whole life.
She decides to lose weight and joins a dieting program when she meets a total stranger and makes a deal with him.
Guys, she agrees to join a body building contest with this random guy she meets.
And she wins.
Shedding the Weight
The Last Anniversary is not a weight loss transformation story. Marge sets out to lose weight, but she decides not to just lose weight. She decides to have fun instead. So she takes on body building.
The body building is symbolic of Marge discovering who she is as a person. There’s a scene near the end where her husband finally notices her again, and they have sex. But in the scene, Moriarty does this tremendous job of detailing how Marge discovers these muscles she never knew she had but they’ve been uncovered now because she’s lost weight and strength trained.
This scene is mind blowing in its analogy. The way Marge rediscovers herself is ethereal, earthy, and so human. It’s like she’s been there all along and never knew it.
So What Happens
Marge’s ending is the best ending I’ve ever seen for a character. She drives off. She doesn’t know where she’s going, and she doesn’t know what she’s looking for. She’s just decided it’s time to find out who she is. That is the bravest finish for a character I’ve ever read.
Why You Should Read This Book
You should read The Last Anniversary for so many reasons. The twist behind the Munro baby mystery is fresh and unexpected. The sisters and the Munro baby herself are exquisite. Sophie is delightful. But it’s Marge that will always remain my favorite.