#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · book bingo · contemporary fiction · life lit · women's fiction

#Book Bingo 2018: ‘A book with a number in the title’ – The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

bingo card 2018

#Book Bingo 2018 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite blogger, Theresa Smith WritesHow does it work?  We have devised our own personalised book bingo card game. Twice a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The book bingo card contains a total of 25 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year. To accommodate all the squares, we will be posting additional entries in the months of March and June, this will ensure that we stay on track to complete the book bingo game by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us. We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post or by visiting Theresa Smith Writes.

My fourth #Book Bingo 2018 entry is ‘A book with a number in the title’. I had a few contenders on my sagging bookshelf to choose from for this square but I settled on an author I have not read before, Nicola Moriarty.  I really loved how Moriarty used the device of five integral letters to drive her involving narrative.

Synopsis:the fifth letter small

How do you know if your friends actually like you?

Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year for some days away together. Now in their thirties, commitments have pulled them in different directions, and the closeness they once enjoyed growing up seems increasingly elusive. This year, determined to revive their intimacy, they each share a secret in an anonymous letter to be read out during the holiday. But instead of bringing them closer, the revelations seem to drive them apart. Then a fifth letter is discovered, venting long-held grudges, and it seems that one of the women is in serious danger. But who was the author? And which of them should be worried?

THE FIFTH LETTER examines the bonds of women’s friendship groups, and the loyalty and honesty they demand, along with letting go of relationships that once seemed essential but are now outgrown.

My review:

The Fifth Letter, is the third novel written by Australian novelist Nicola Moriarty. Moriarty gets to the bottom of friendship in her latest novel, exposing the raw truths, deep seated secrets, rivalries and loyalty that exists within a long standing friendship circle. Expect plenty of drama, a few laughs, some moments of sadness and a touch of romance from Nicola Moriarty.

The Fifth Letter revolves around a friendship circle that began way back in the first year of high school, in the year 1993. Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina all shared surnames with the same initial in high school, along with the same star sign. Their friendship was born and along the way, they suffered through teenage angst, heartache, bullying and times apart. Since they left school, the women, mostly through the help of ringleader Joni, try to catch up for an annual beach getaway. Despite the differences in their lives, this foursome still enjoy reconnecting. In an effort to regain some of their closeness, Joni suggests that each member of the friendship circle reveal a secret via an anonymous letter. The results are quite awful, especially when a fifth letter makes its appearance. Joni is determined to get the bottom of who is responsible for writing this letter, which is littered with feelings of hatred and threats of violence. As Joni gets closer to the truth, this friendship circle seems forever changed by the fifth letter.

This is my first experience with the work of Nicola Moriarty. I can see she is the author of two previous novels and after finding myself rather glued to the pages of this new novel by Moriarty, I’m keen to explore her previous two novels.

Moriarty’s novel rips apart and exposes the wounds of a long standing friendship circle that was forged in high school. This is a novel that immediately got me thinking about my own friendships. It released a litany of questions inside my head. Do we really know our friends? Do they have deep secrets? Do our friends truly like us? Are my friends envious of my life? This book seems to have ignited so many questions! Initially, it made me feel a little jealous at the fact that these four friends are still in touch, since high school days. I know this isn’t the case for me personally. The girls I was friends with in high school all live on the other side of the world to me and although I catch up with them via Facebook updates, I’m not sure we would be in the space to embark on a getaway! But, Moriarty gives the reader plenty of friendship fodder and dynamics to consider in her new novel.

The initial concept of a series of secrets, revealed in the form of an anonymous letter intrigued me very much. It kept the pages turning and my speed increased when Moriarty introduced the fifth letter into the fold. The mystery ramps up at this point and doesn’t seem to let go until the final few pages of this novel.

As I am very close in age to the four women in this novel, so I found it very easy to connect with them on a personal level. I am sure many readers will find some semblance between what these women are going through in terms of marriages, family issues, parenting, careers and mental health issues. It is all very relevant and relatable, thanks to Moriarty.

Moriarty’s character list is varied and colourful. Each of these women is completely contrasted, yet somehow they find they still share a connection built from high school. Moriarty builds on her characters very well indeed and I was struck by the way each responded in a way I would expect, based on their differing personality types. Joni is the lead of the story and many of the passages of the book are about her personal journey. The book swings back and forth in time. It moves from the current day (2016) back to the past and reveals significant moments in the four women’s lives. This is a narrative device that I feel worked well structurally for this novel, adding in some level of astonishment at the turn of many events in the novel. For added interest, there is an extra source of narration, Joni’s conversation or confession with a priest who also happened to be a psychologist in the past. This added layer to the story is gently woven into the tale and offers a poignant reflection on the events featured in The Fifth Letter.

The Fifth Letter concludes in dramatic fashion but Moriarty carefully steers her ship away from too much sentiment, instead, a poignant wrap up of events occurs. Moriarty serves up one last late twist to the book but be rest assured, the final turn of events closes off in a positive manner. The Fifth Letter is a book I easily recommend, especially if you are a fan of domestic fiction or the burgeoning field of life lit. I’m keen to explore more work from Nicola Moriarty based on my response to The Fifth Letter.

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty was published on February 20th 2017. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

The Fifth Letter is book #19 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge


5 thoughts on “#Book Bingo 2018: ‘A book with a number in the title’ – The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

  1. #Book Bingo 2018: ‘A book with a number in the title’ – The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

    Until I went through my list of read books I almost forgot I had read a Nicola Moriarty novel, it was quite a while ago, yet, reading the title of the book ‘Free-falling’ I’m reminded how much I enjoyed it and can still remember parts of the book. The Fifth Letter was equally enjoyable.

    This book centres around four friends, Eden, Joni, Trina and Deb, though the story is narrated by Joni. The group of friends have been together since school and now as adults they do their best to meet up every year for a girls mini getaway. Secrets are revealed through nameless letters written by each friend. Each night one person chooses a letter to read out to the group.

    Unusual, intriguing and a catchy storyline that hooks you right in. Plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end.

    My favourite part for some reason which I can’t explain is when Joni was confessing to the priest. I thought that was cleverly done and added another layer to the story. The mystery and the drama regarding the letters kept me enthralled.

    Personally, I truly loved this book and am a teeny weenie bit excited to read another of Nicola Moriarty’s books.

    Amanda, this is quite amazing that we both chose not only the same bingo square but the same book. Wow! What are the odds of that happening? Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I was so shocked when I opened this post to discover we had used the same book for the same square on the same day! I honestly had to do a double take, lol! What is the chances of this happening! Mind boggling! I like our different takes and personal elements we teased out of this novel. I’m also keen to explore more of Nicola’s work at some point.


      1. Yep, pretty mind boggling! An incredible coincidence! When I was ready to post my review on your bingo blog post and I saw your chosen bingo book my mouth actually dropped, lol, and I yelled out to Steven, ‘omg, Amanda and I chose the same book for book bingo.’ This will be fun to see if it happens again, but what are the chances though? Lol. It’s funny because I had chosen another book category but the review isn’t quite finished so I thought I’d post The Fifth Letter instead.


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