Why we love it: In Nicola Moriarty’s latest novel, The Fifth Letter, a group of female friends’ annual beach holiday goes crazy after secrets from the past, dark desires from the present, and old dynamics rise to the surface. It’s a hilarious, often poignant novel that reveals the reality that friends don’t always like each other; sometimes they even hate each other . . .
Jodie has known Trina, Eden and Deb, all in their thirties, since the first day of high school, and through marriages and children they have stayed firm and fast. Jodie is the one who rallies her three best friends for the regular getaway, but being the over-thinker and the only one without children, Jodie is worried that they don’t talk to each like they used to, so on this trip to the coast she has the bright idea for each of them to write an anonymous letter to the group, in which they all have to reveal some deep secrets.
But the idea backfires spectacularly when the secrets are more shocking than any of them expected, and one of the women thinks better of her original letter, trying – but not quite succeeding – to destroy it. When Jodie finds this ‘fifth letter’, she is so shocked and disturbed by its contents that she’s even worried that one of the women is in danger. She makes it her mission to find out who wrote it and, in doing so, unleashes much more than she bargained for . . .
The narrative is related partially by Jodie in the form of a confession to a priest – who was formerly a psychologist. The holiday, and the letter, bring all Jodie’s problems to a head. Worried that she hasn’t conceived yet, like the rest of her friends, and that her husband Kai no longer finds her attractive, she assumes that everything is super rosy with her three friends. What happens on the holiday blows that all apart and brings all the friends’ issues to the fore – for good and bad.
The Fifth Letter is a delightful romp of a novel that will have you laughing on one page, crying at the next. It’s a funny and insightful look at life, friendship, and relationships. It shows how the grass isn’t always greener on the other side when it comes to other people’s relationships. With searing honesty, and sometimes slapstick humour, it portrays the reality of long and close friendships, pointing to the truism that we don’t always know people, even our best friends, as much as we think we do – that even our oldest, closest friends harbor secrets and dark desires.
Nicola Moriarty is a Sydney-based novelist, copywriter, and the mother of two daughters. Previous works include the novels Free-Falling and Paper Chains, and the novella Captivation. She won the Fred Rush Convocation prize from Macquarie University, along with ‘Best Australian Debut’ from Chicklit Club. She blogs (occasionally) at her website here: www.nicolamoriarty.com.au. And in case you were wondering, yes she is a sister of those other talented Moriarty writers.