Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Mystery, Chick lit
First Publication: 2014
Major Characters: Celeste White, Madeline Martha Mackenzie, Jane Chapman
Theme: The Pain of Lying and the Healing Power of the Truth, Women and femininity, Family and Marriage, Friendship
Setting: Sydney, New South Wales (Australia)
Narrator: Third Person Omniscient point of view
Book Summary: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Three mothers, Jane, Madeline and Celeste appear to have it all, until they find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control . . .
Single mum Jane has just moved to town. She’s got her little boy in tow – plus a secret she’s been carrying for five years.
On the first day of the school run she meets Madeline – a force to be reckoned with, who remembers everything and forgives no one – and Celeste, the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but is inexplicably ill at ease.
They both take Jane under their wing – while careful to keep their own secrets under wraps.
But a minor incident involving the children of all three women rapidly escalates: playground whispers become spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies . . .
Book Review : Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty’s novel Big Little Lies has become a sensational bestseller and one of the best books by women in recent years, only supported by its critically acclaimed and immensely watchable HBO adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern among others (which features some of the best casting choices I’ve ever witnessed in a book-to-film/TV adaptation).
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is absolutely addictive. I have turned page after page in one sitting alone, it didn’t take long for me to finish the novel. The plot works brilliantly by using a very interesting formula: take the lives of several characters who appear to be so perfect and oh-so-normal from the outside; and throw them into a difficult situation in order to reveal their true characters by showing how they deal with the situations; and then reveal the dark secrets shadowing their seemingly perfect lives.
“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”
It’s a formula which could not have worked better, though one aspect certainly helped: the fact that the characters were so vibrant. We got to know every little shade of their souls, and even with the uncomfortable subjects which are placed at the heart of the story, it felt comforting to place oneself in their neighborhood and watch their conflict-disquieted lives unravel.
Yes, it was certainly uncomfortable at times, but that was the entire point of the novel. It’s the reason this book is so memorable and different in the first place. Self-centered people like the characters portrayed in Liane Moriarty’s world live all around the planet. What the show did so great was to paint these women in such an interesting light that you could not help but root for them anyway.
“All conflict can be traced back to someone’s feelings getting hurt, don’t you think?”
What an outrageously crazy book Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is – and I’m saying that in a good way. Hot tempered Mother’s who become too involved in their child’s disputes (and I’m talking about children aged 4-5yrs), to the point of seeking out revenge; threatening other parents, twisting the truth and even signing partitions to have a child expelled. It’s complete madness! But while it all may seem like madness, it’s really not far from the truth.
The other reason why I enjoyed Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was the mystery surrounding the death. The book starts off with a death on trivia night, but the reader will not know who died until the end. It backtracks 6 months prior to when the parents and children met on school orientation day.
We get to know these parents, see their different personality, how they interact with one another, and get an insight into their little circle of friendships. The parents are known to one other through kindergarten, and living in a small seaside community, so they’ve already had formed their own little groups. They are civil to one other but a lot of backstabbing goes on behind their back. However, when a bully incident happens with the children on orientation day, tempers flare and grudges are formed. Which divides the adult further apart and makes life a living hell for one new, single mother of Pirriwee Pubic School for the next 6 months.
“Reading a novel was like returning to a once-beloved holiday destination.”
In Big Little Lies we follow the lives of the mothers of Pirriwee Public School. Initially they seem confident, beautiful and stylish mothers with a stable and well balanced home/work life. But that’s on the surface. It’s all a great big lie. As we read on, we do start to see some serious cracks showing. The book tackles a range of family and personal problems; growing older and body image, rebellious teenagers, ex-spouses, infidelity and spousal abuse.
“Everyone wanted to be rich and beautiful, but the truly rich and beautiful had to pretend they were just the same as everyone else.”
Liane Moriarty is a very skilled and clear storyteller, and while it may seem a lot to take in, at no stage did I feel overwhelmed or lose focus. Each character is given their own chapter – and voice, where the reader gets to see and feel their suffering and confusion. Meanwhile giving us snippet of witness testimonies at the beginning and end of each chapter, just to remind us that we are getting nearer to discovering who died. And if it was murderer? Hoping it’s not the one of the people I have grown to really care for.