Big Little Lies is a book (and now an HBO series too) by current best-selling author Liane Moriarty.
It’s the first book I’ve read by this author, and I was curious to see if it lived up to the hype.
The story centers around three women: Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. They live in Australia, and each has a kindergartner. We learn in the first chapter that there has been a death (murder?!), and the story is told by heading back in time to six months before that happened.
I don’t want to spoil the plot by saying too much about it. The book does have several twists and unexpected things happen, mainly toward the end. I always enjoy that in a book.
I think that Moriarty’s popularity comes from the way she tells a story in an easy-to-read way. Her characters face situations that are common to many women, or at least are ones we could easily relate to. For instance:
- that annoyingly young new teacher: “Her eyelids didn’t sag. Nothing sagged. Everything in her bright young life was clear and simple and perky.”
- the challenges of parenting a teen: “Madeline didn’t know how to be with her daughter anymore, because she felt like she’d been fired from her position as mother.”
- the annoying new wife of your ex: “She’d donated Skye’s pram, stroller, cot, change table and baby clothes to a battered women’s shelter. ‘Isn’t that amazing, Mum?’ Abigail had sighed. ‘Other people would just sell that stuff.'”
- the disappointments of marriage: “Marriage to Perry meant she was always ready to justify her actions, constantly monitoring what she’d just said or done, while simultaneously feeling defensive about the defensiveness.”
Big Little Lies
As you probably guessed from the title, secrets are kept, and lies are told, some bigger than others. This passage near the end sums up the title’s significance: “It occurred to her that there were so many levels of evil in the world. Small evils like her own malicious words. Like not inviting a child to a party. Bigger evils like walking out on your wife and newborn baby or sleeping with your child’s nanny. And then there was the sort of evil of which Madeline had no experience: cruelty in hotel rooms and violence in suburban homes and little girls being sold like merchandise, shattering innocent hearts.”
The book read really quickly — Moriarty can tell a story, and I found myself picking this book up throughout the day when I had a spare few minutes, just because I wondered what would happen.
The downsides were some profanity (I guess “real people” do talk this way, but I’ll never get used to it). And although I liked the ending, it also (spoiler!) seemed a little convenient that it resulted in the book’s most unlikable character being quickly and permanently gone. This is “fast food reading” — the prose won’t blow you away, nor will you be mentally challenged. It’s kind of like reading People magazine. And sometimes, that’s okay.
Have you read any books by Liane Moriarty?