Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Three Wishes
Liane Moriarty

To tell you the truth, I bought this book on the strength of the Moriarty name alone. There have just been so many good things floating about online about the Moriarty sisters that I couldn’t resist putting this in my cart. And since Holly and Chachic both had this book in their TBRs, we decided to do another readalong!

The Premise: At the thirty-third birthday of Australian triplets Lyn, Cat, and Gemma, they have a huge fight at a restaurant. A fight so big that it has the rest of the restaurant reporting on it to their friends the next day. It all started, say the Kettle sisters, when Lyn was having spaghetti with her husband Dan. That was the day, they say that Dan admitted that he had a one night stand. And thus begins the narrative from spaghetti to the big fight, covering the individual and combined lives of the three sisters.

My Thoughts: Well it doesn’t look like we are having the best luck in our readalong choices. So far the books we choose end up being much less cheerful that we expected them to be! Based on the cover (I know, I know, I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover), with it’s cupcake and color scheme of pink and teal, I was expecting something lighthearted. The blurbs that said things like “joyful, bighearted valentine to sisters” (Patricia Gaffney), and “Quirky and lovable” (Publishers Weekly), and “family comedy” (back blurb)  made me expect more humor than there actually was. Maybe I don’t have the right sense of humor.

The thing is, I wasn’t expecting Dan’s infidelity, and it is the storyline that anchors the whole book. The story really begins with Dan confessing to his wife Cat (page 13 in my edition),  that he had been unfaithful. The narrative does not pull it’s punches, giving us every horrible detail of the confession and Cat’s reaction. Funny? Not so much. Nor is the story of close sisters dealing with the wake of the affair’s aftermath. Cat is going through too much to be seen in a flattering light. She is prickly throughout Three Wishes, and as a reader I felt like my emotions were closely linked with whatever she was going through. Even though it felt like all the sisters have about the same amount of face time in the story, her sisters stories were like satellites to Cat’s black hole.

Lyn, who is identical to Cat, is the list-making, ambitious, by-the-book triplet. On the surface, she has a life many people would want —  a successful business,  nice house, a smart and loving husband, and two daughters (one her own, one she raised as her own), but Lyn’s need for keeping everything under control (including a chart to keep track of her friendships), is taking its toll. She can’t control her daughters’ moods or what her sister is going through. Before long she’s having a panic attack in a parking lot with her toddler in the back seat. Gemma, the triplet from a different egg, is the sensitive but flaky bohemian sister who wants everyone to be happy. She seems the sweetest of the bunch, but the almost defiant way she refuses to be tied down to a man, home, or career has a reason — one she has never told her sisters and has never fully worked through.

With a family going through all that the Kettles go through, you’d think my emotions would be ones of soft sympathy, but most of the book had me angry and depressed. I can’t decide whether I was so caught up in Cat’s story I couldn’t separate my emotions from hers, or the story was depressing me and I was getting mad at it for doing so. It may be a bit of both. The thing is, there was something about each of the sisters that just turned me off. I didn’t love Cat’s anger. It made her character feel hard and closed off even though I think she has reason to be. I didn’t love that she and Lyn were always to take their emotions out on Gemma. Gemma on the other hand, would usually just let her sister’s behavior slide and was often indecisive. There were a lot of little things like that that gnawed at me. These sisters had a lot of issues. The narrative underlines this by both what they’re going through now, and by flashbacks to not-so-happy memories. And I can’t help comparing my relationship with my sister to these sisters, and I feel like this book is missing some vital element in my believing in their sisterly bond. Something is missing from their relationships I can’t put my finger on.

And then there’s the plot. After Cat finds out about the infidelity, a couple of events happen that just twist the knife further. After an incredibly low point in the story, perhaps midway through the book, I threw my hands up and predicted where the plot was going to go. I based my guess on the worst thing that could happen to Cat – the thing that would make her suffer further. At that point I was just feeling emotionally manipulated. My predictions turned out to be correct, but not to the degree I feared. What saved this book was after the first two-thirds of general misery, that the last third was a slow climb out of it. It was like the dawn after a storm. I felt much calmer once I got to the end, but it wasn’t enough to make me feel more than just “it was OK” about the book. The writing is excellent, but for me and my aversion to angsty drama, this is just the wrong book to read.

Overall: There are a lot of people who saw humor in this one, but I just didn’t get it. If a book chronicles the dissolution of a marriage because of infidelity (and more).. I ain’t laughing. I think a big part of that was that I just found the characters difficult to like or connect to. This just wasn’t to my personal taste.

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository

Other reviews:
See Michelle Read – “utter winner”