Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher's description

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 yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

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 harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes 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. 

My review

I was predisposed to not like Big Little Lies after having finished Truly Madly Guilty recently and thinking it was just not great. I certainly did not see what the fuss was over Liane Moriarty. I had read The Husband’s Secret several years ago for book club and liked it well enough. But Truly Madly Guilty was so off the mark, I only picked up Big Little Lies because of the recommendations of other friends and bloggers. Fortunately I was willing to give Moriarty one more chance. With Big Little Lies, I can definitely see the fuss.

Madeline, Jane and Celeste all have children starting kindergarten together and they all have “man” issues. We start the book knowing someone has been murdered. Snippets of police interviews of other parents tell the reader that the murder happened at a big fundraiser at the elementary school. These interview snippets are often hilarious and help lighten the tone of a book filled with some weighty topics. Moriarty covers single parenthood, abandonment, divorce,    domestic violence, bullying, murder, secrets, and more. 

The book’s timeline walks us closer and closer to this fateful night. Before we get there, though, we fall in love with the characters. Yes, there is a giant mystery to be solved here, but Moriarty laces so much story telling and so many other little mysteries in along the way that the book is much more than just the big mystery. 

Madeline is a busy body full of verve but with secret doubts about her own aging and parenting skills. Celeste is a beauty who seemingly has it all - wealth, gorgeous husband, darling twin boys - but who has an inner melancholy. Jane is a new single mom in town and such a young kindergarten mother that she is first mistaken for a nanny. When Jane’s son is accused of bullying, the speculations run rampant. Even Jane questions her own child’s innocence. Everyone has secrets and those secrets all come crashing out on the fateful night of the school fundraiser. The author expertly keeps the reader in suspense, carefully doling out information to keep you reading (and reading and reading - often far past your bedtime) to see who gets murdered and who does the murdering. Will your favorite character survive?  

I am really not a television watcher but I’m looking forward to revisiting the characters in HBO’s miniseries based on the book. And I plan to pick up What Alice Forgot.  Moriarty’s books were nearly taken off my TBR pile. Thankfully, I gave her one more chance and I’m so glad I did. I highly recommend Big Little Lies. 

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