“Apples Never Fall” exists somewhere in the borderlands between psychological thriller and family drama. Suffused with domestic unease, and punctuated with emotionally astute and deeply empathetic observations about motherhood, marriage, and siblings, it’s Liane Moriarty exploring familiar themes at breakneck pace.
Joy and Stan Delaney have been married for almost half a century, and after dedicating their best years to their world famous Sydney-based tennis academy, they’ve finally retired.
They can’t quite figure out what comes next.
Their four adult children are an indolent presence. Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke each had the potential to be tennis superstars, blessed with indubitable talent, but never quite made it all the way; a failing that looms over the Delaneys like a shadow.
Joy and Stan are rudderless without the academy. Their lives are unravelling without direction. So when a young woman arrives at their door, suffering perceptible injuries and claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse, they welcome Savannah into their home as an overnight guest, which stretches into weeks, and months. She might be the glue that keeps them together, even as her presence exposes the cracks in their marriage.
The Delaney kids are wary —and a smidgen jealous of Savannah. They start digging into the incongruities of her background and her behaviour. Just when they decide it’s time for Savannah to go, Joy vanishes. The police initially consider her a runaway; her form of revenge on Stan, who habitually escaped particularly fractious moments in their relationship by simply walking away. But as the days pass, and evidence mounts against Stan, even the Delaney children doubt their father’s innocence.
Though its prose is sometimes prolix, Moriarty has manufactured a compelling and intricately-plotted mystery bestrewn with red herrings that suggest a multitude of explanations for Joy’s disappearance and keep the pages turning.
Reliably entertaining, as ever.
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: 14/09/2021
Imprint: Macmillan Australia