Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty's last novel, The Husband's Secret, was tremendously popular last year, and when I finally got around to reading it I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, domestic drama and all. Her newest novel, Big Little Lies, explores similar territory as it looks at the haves and have nots in a small Australian community, and throws in a little mayhem, melodrama, and murder to boot.

Another year of kindergarten is about to start at the Pirriwee Public School. Madeline, who loves to be the center of attention and will fight for any cause—or person—she thinks needs her support, is struggling, because her ex-husband Nathan and his new yoga-instructor wife Bonnie have moved to the same community, and their young daughter is in the same class as Madeline's daughter, Chloe. (And don't even get her started on the fact that Madeline and Nathan's teenage daughter Abigail would rather live with her father—who abandoned her and Madeline when she was an infant—than her mother.)

Madeline's gorgeous best friend, Celeste, has a picture-perfect life. She has the gorgeous, enormously wealthy husband, Perry, and two beautiful twin sons. Perry gives Celeste anything she wants, and their lives are the envy of most of the parents in their community. But what looks like the perfect life from the outside can be far from perfect on the inside, and Celeste has to figure out how to regain control.

New in town is single mother Jane, who is younger than most of the other parents—so young, in fact, that she is often mistaken for one of the children's nannies or au pairs. She is fiercely devoted to her young son, Ziggy, and despite the way many of the parents treat her, she becomes fast friends with Madeline and Celeste.

When a bullying scandal erupts in the kindergarten class, battle lines are drawn between groups of parents. As the most innocent of incidents are misinterpreted and re-interpreted, the scandal threatens to explode, and it brings many other issues between spouses, between friends, between sets of parents, to a head. And it all explodes one evening, at the school's "Elvis and Audrey" Trivia Night, when everything goes much too far, and someone winds up dead.

I really enjoy the way Moriarty writes. She completely hooks you in this tempestuous little community and gets you invested in the characters, and just when you think you know where she's going to take the story, she flips the script on you. The book flashes back to the months before Trivia Night, and is interspersed with commentary from a Greek chorus of sorts comprised of the other parents, as well as the teachers and administrators from the school.

There was a period of time when this book reminded me of Julia Fierro's Cutting Teeth, in that I found many of the supporting characters so odious that I wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading. But the main characters are so much more complex than I first thought, so I was glad I kept on, because in the end, despite my feeling for some of the characters, I really enjoyed the book as a whole. This is a fun, melodramatic, soapy read, definitely one which will amuse and intrigue you—unless this is the type of life you live.


  1. I was able to read a short sample of Big Little Lies and I really liked what I saw - I am definitely putting this on my to-read list!

    I just wanted to let you know that I've nominated you for the Liebster Award! Find the information here: http://never-anyone-else.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-liebster-award.html

  2. I loved this too - black comedy, light and easy and a social conscience as well!