By Liane Moriarty
“When they were in second class, Sister Joyce Mary chalked a picture of the three-leafed shamrock on the blackboard to illustrate how “the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were three persons but one God.” Gemma’s hand shot into the air. “Like triplets! Like us!” The nun winced. “I’m afraid the Kettle girls are not like the Holy Trinity!” “Yes, but I think we are, Sister,” said Gemma kindly.”
Three Wishes is another winner by the Australian author. It starts out with a big public blow-up in a restaurant among triplets during their 34th birthday celebration. It is recounted by 3 objective observers (a waitress, and 2 other diners,) of the women’s behavior from entering the restaurant to the final scenes where one is taken away in an ambulance and followed by her sisters. How did this happen? What started it? Moriarty guides us through the year leading up to the climactic event. In her typical non-linear story-telling fashion, we get flashbacks back to even before they were born, their toddlerhood, childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood, their relationships, marriages, their children, and other close family members. Along the way, we are treated to observations of strangers who witnessed random moments in their lives and how those moments affected them.
The triplets themselves consist of 2 identical twins, and a third fraternal sister. They are intelligent, beautiful, complex, and 3 very different women. Lyn is a super-organized successful entrepreneur and mother with a good marriage who is very mature, always right, and always has her life in order and together. Except she starts having panic attacks. Gemma, the fraternal triplet is a sweet, ditsy, generous, free-spirit who does not have a “career.” She house-sits for a living and drifts from boyfriend to boyfriend. Except she has a dark debilitating secret: A past trauma that she has to heal from in order for her to have a healthy relationship and a productive life. Interestingly, we learn well into the book, that she is brilliant in math and a financial whiz. Finally, there is Cat, the other identical twin. Despite her charm, humor, passion, and talents, Cat is not really a good person. Yet, she loves her sisters, and her sisters love her. She also is a successful businesswoman in a happy marriage. Until her husband makes a confession that throws her perfect world into chaos. Passion becomes rage and all her worst traits are triggered. Through flashbacks, we see that she can be mean, self-centered, and insensitive. Liane is such a great writer that she still manages to make Cat likable and someone we still root for. Does she have a good heart underneath it all? Can she move on from her broken marriage? Or can this marriage be saved?
The story takes us past the disastrous 34th birthday party and our questions about all three women are satisfied, or well on their way to be. There is no miracle resolution to all of their foibles and problems, but we are given closure and hope. In a delightful manner, Liane Moriarty re-incorporates two of the three diners that tell about the party in the prologue into the final pages of the book.
August 3, 2018