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From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now that they've sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to 'relax'. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.
But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her children are re-examining their parents' marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?
by Sarah McDuling
When Liane Moriarty starts weaving her storytelling magic, none of the normal rules apply. You will find yourself wondering how to define what you're reading. Is it a compelling family drama? A gripping psychological thriller? A crime novel? A mystery? Domestic noir? All of the above?? (The correct answer is all of the above, plus a whole lot of sparkling humour and astute social commentary.)
Things that shouldn't work, tend to work perfectly in a Liane Moriarty book. Plot points that would seem unbelievable if served up by literally any other author (other Moriarty sisters notwithstanding) are instead delivered with such graceful aplomb that they seem not only believable, but downright masterful.
And the characters! Liane Moriarty writes characters that are so real and relatable, riddled with so many aching vulnerabilities and charming idiosyncrasies that you cannot help but love them then she starts planting those insidious little seeds of doubt. Before too long, it dawns on you that some of these characters you love have probably done some terrible things. But which ones? It might be all of them, or none of them, or perhaps the one you love the most? You will not know till you get to the end because the truth is, Liane Moriarty has a streak of wildcard genius that makes it impossible to predict where she will take a story. It's art!
Okay. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, perhaps you'd like to know a bit about what Apples Never Fall is about?
This is Liane Moriarty's ninth novel and, like everything she writes, it's now my favourite of her novels. I suspect it will remain my favourite of her novels until she writes her next one. As for what it's about, you could say it's the story of a family. The Delaneys are a genuinely happy and close-knit family, blessed with talent and privilege but also shadowed by failure, misunderstandings, unrealised potential and a couple of nuclear grade secrets.
At its heart, Apples Never Fall is the story of Stan and Joy Delaney's marriage, but it's also the story of their four adult children, all of them a little lost and broken in their own ways. You might call it a mystery story about what happened to Joy Delaney. Then again, you might call it a gripping drama about a woman named Savannah who shows up on Stan and Joy's doorstep and is either a) a lost soul in need of protection or b) a con artist with hidden motives or perhaps c) something else entirely unexpected. WHO KNOWS? This is a Moriarty novel, remember? None of the normal rules apply here!
So there you have it. This is a crime/thriller/domestic noir/drama about a family/a marriage/ a mysterious stranger. It's incredibly suspenseful and at times disturbing, but simultaneously quite funny and charming. Oh, and it's also about tennis!?
Yes, Apples Never Fall manages to be all of these things and so much more. This book made me chuckle and weep and clench my jaw in an agony of uncertainty. I have never in my life been so consistently and torturously dangled on never-ending tenterhooks, right up until the glorious conclusion. Here is a glimpse into my thought processes whilst reading Apples Never Fall:
Was Joy kidnapped? Did she run away? Was she murdered? (Did Joy ever even exist or is this a Tyler Durden situation?). Has a crime taken place here, or was it a horrible accident? Or is it all some kind of grand master plan unfolding? What the hell happened in the past timeline and what the hell is coming for me in the future timeline? Gah! And also who on earth is Savannah????
The true genius of Apples Never Fall is that while you're reading it, you will change your mind about all of the above questions at least a million times. And each time you change your mind you will be CERTAIN you're right until the moment doubt creeps back in. Liane Moriarty will play you like a fiddle, because it's what she does best. And if you're anything like me, you'll love every second of it!
Utterly engrossing, clever, audacious and addictive - this is a perfect ten out of ten read for me, just as I always expect from this wonderful author! If this doesn't end up being adapted as a star studded mini series, I will riot!
About the Author
Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of eight internationally bestselling novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist's Love Story and the number one New York Times bestsellers The Husband's Secret, Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty and most recently Nine Perfect Strangers. Her books have sold over twenty million copies worldwide, including three million in Australia and New Zealand.
Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter.