What Alice Forgot: A review

I’ve been rather out of the loop on new-ish releases in the US. But I heard first about this book from What Alice Forgot: A book review and I was intrigued. I’m fortunate enough to know Dee – so she ‘read it forward’ and sent me the book.  I’m sending it on next week to another person I think will enjoy it, and I hope she chimes in to give her perspective.

What will be most interesting to me is the 3 generations of women who will read and be able to talk about the story, with the different life experiences we all bring.


But, I digress.  This story is essentially a rediscovery of a woman who loses 10 years of her life after a fall in a spin class.  Alice awakes and believes herself to be 29, happily married, pregnant with her first child, an essentially happy and nice person.   What she soon comes to hear is that she is in the middle of a divorce, dating a new man, has 3 children that she doesn’t remember, and she is not a very nice person, who doesn’t appear to like herself all that much.

Reminiscent of Remember Me   by Sophie Kinsella, this is a far more involved and multi-faceted tale.  The story is told using a variety of narratives: we have diary-style entries from her sister Elizabeth,  done as her “homework” for her therapist.  We have Frannie, who is an “adopted grandmother” to Elizabeth and Alice who is writing letters to her love, and then there is Alice’s reactions and viewpoints all integrated with other people’s explanations of her missing memories.

Surprisingly, the story reads far more smoothly than the complexity of the integrated voices would lead you to believe.  It was easy to find empathy for the Alice we meet after the injury; a little lost and slightly bewildered, she is sweet and gentle and perhaps a little too soft and forgiving of bad behaviour from those she loves.  The Alice that went to the gym that morning is far harder edged and direct, petty even, and as she comes to realize what she had become on the long way to 39, she doesn’t like that version of herself.

The story focused on  Alice’s efforts to reclaim her life, rebuild herself, and remember all that she lost in 10 years of memories. The story was written with a slow unfolding of Alice, while we see the worst, and  best, of those around her.  It was an interesting way of examining a life, and learning what is important and relevant, and what will be forgotten in an instant.  What holds  true throughout the story is that Alice’s discoveries are also our discoveries – when she is tense I felt tension.  When she has a realization, we have a similar one.

Books I enjoy always provide me with three things: create characters you care about, provide an interesting story that encourages me to read on and it leaves me with an idea to ponder when closing the last page.  What Alice Forgot provided all those elements for me.  I hope it will for you.


2 thoughts on “What Alice Forgot: A review

  1. i read a couple of books on memory. one where a professor lived in 70 minute segments and then had to relearn his life again…..can you imagine. another where a woman woke each day to relearn hers. the first was much ore compelling as it dealt solely with the issue. the second more with a possible nefarious act. still, the idea of reconstructig your life on a more or less constant basis….not amnesia just having to do it over and over, no matter what. stunning propostion, no?

    • I am always fascinated with the human condition and recovering the view of self… there is something so cleansing and hopeful about people who can “pick up” and “redesign” a life – without being dishonest about it. I don’t think I’d want to have unlimited options though – far to easy to take the “short” route and not invest. Far better to have some investment so changes are integrated.

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