Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty
Publisher: Michael Joseph Books
Publication date: 09 February 2017
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Length: 496 pages/15 hours 55 minutes
Rating: 4 .5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
Big Little Lies got a whole lot of buzz when the TV miniseries came out last year. I haven’t seen the show yet, but I was curious about the book based on the premise of the show. One Goodreads reviewer described this book best: “this is the funniest book about domestic violence and murder that I’ve ever read.” I feel like that just about describes this book.
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
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.
I’m not going to say too much, but man is this book dark. Despite the incredibly serious and dark themes, it also manages to be insanely funny? It’s incredible how Moriarty managed this. The tension and humour are perfectly balanced and I couldn’t get enough of this story. Fortunately, I listened to the audiobook and had no trouble blasting through Big Little Lies. I consumed this delicious book in a matter of days. If you ever attended a ridiculous school that had ridiculous parents, you should read this book. It has so many shades of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a book I adore, and I absolutely loved it.
I really loved our three main characters because they were so distinctly different and felt so wonderfully realistic. Madeline, Celeste, and Jane are so incredibly vibrant — I would sometimes forget that the story was actually fictional. These three women are far from perfect, but I really enjoyed the way their stories wove together and their secrets unfolded. Although I absolutely loved all three ladies, Celeste is my favourite. There was something about the double life she lives that was so intriguing, and I really loved the way her story played out.
I don’t want to say too much because you should absolutely go into this book knowing as little as possible, but despite the serious content warnings Big Little Lies is an incredibly well-paced and darkly funny novel. I cannot wait to see the TV show and read more of Moriarty’s stories.
CW: multiple scenes of on page domestic abuse, on page sexual assault
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