Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, published May 2015 by Penguin.
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his new wife have moved into her beloved beach-side community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest. And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her.
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbours secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realises how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
The Book Review
I feel like I’m super late to the Liane Moriarty fan-club, as this author’s books are everywhere. A couple of years ago, I read What Alice Forgot (3.5*) and I meant to get to more of her books soon after, but just never felt in the right mood for them. When it comes to this author, everyone seems to talk about The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies, so when the latter was turned into an award-winning TV Show starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley, the decision of which one to read next was made for me.
As always, I wanted to read the book before watching the TV Show (which I haven’t gotten around to watching just yet, but I intend to). I do think all of the hype surrounding the show had an impact on my enjoyment of this book, as it raised my expectations significantly. While the premise was highly intriguing, the characters well-developed (Madeline is a personal favourite), and the plot had the obligatory twists and turns, overall I was left feeling a little underwhelmed when I turned that last page (in the early hours of the morning, I might add).
My reading into the wee hours wasn’t so much because the book had me gripped, but because it was a big read (a contemporary coming in at almost 500 pages?!), and I couldn’t face continuing with it in the morning. I just wanted to get to the whodunnit already. I think Big Little Lies definitely would have benefited from more heavy editing, as it could have been a good bit shorter (an opinion I also had about What Alice Forgot almost three years ago). Just when you started getting into the plot and building up to a pivotal moment, the scenes and chapters are drawn out in an almost agonising way.
That being said, the use of Police interview snippets at the end of most chapters was engaging, and a different story-telling technique that I haven’t seen used elsewhere, and Moriarty certainly knows how to tackle life’s BIG subjects with grace and even humour.
I’m not sure if it was the mood I was in when reading this book, if it was the hype from the TV Show, or if I personally just don’t gel with Moriarty’s writing overall, because this book has had some rave reviews on Goodreads (even from my Book Rating Twin, Trish, and we usually agree on everything), but for me while it was an enjoyable enough read, it wasn’t 5*.
Have you read Big Little Lies, or any other books by Moriarty? Have you seen the TV Show adaptation? Is it just me who struggles with this author? Let me know in the comments!