REVIEW: Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty


Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
Published by Penguin on 9th February 2017 (Media tie-in).
Book depository purchase link.
My rating: 5/5

Having read Moriarty's The Husband's Secret and Three Wishes, I knew going into Big Little Lies that she is capable of great things. When I saw the HBO series on Sky, I had to give it a watch. It was by far the best thing I have seen in ages. Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and Shailene Woodley are hugely talented actresses that gave a more than convincing performance and even the tone of the show was addictive. The beach views and gorgeous soundtrack dripped with appeal. I couldn't recommend it more. In fact, the TV show and the novel are the perfect combination. Going into the book straight after watching the TV show highlighted some changes, but overall the adaptation is incredibly loyal, particularly to the characters. 

Big Little Lies is about three women: Madeline, Celeste and Jane. Madeline is viciously passionate and majorly pissed off that her ex-husband has re-married a yoga-loving, spiritual-obsessed woman named Bonnie, and that their kid will be the same kindergarten as Madeline's. Celeste is beautiful and rich and seems to have the perfect life, but she's beginning to question if the consequences are too much. Jane is the new, young single mum in town, quickly taken under Madeline and Celeste's wing. But Jane's arrival will change everything.

Moriarty balanced a number of characters astonishingly well, flickering between close third person perspectives of the three women while keeping track of the "recurring" characters, like fellow school mum Renata. Through the countdown to trivia night, the tension continued to build and my addiction to the story spiralled. On top of this, Moriarty inserts snippets of a police interview of the other school parents and faculty who provide cryptic clues to keep you thinking. In this way, the interweaving storylines are masterfully executed, with  a whole heap of well-developed characters with individual quirks and mindsets. Madeline's self-depricating humour, anxieties over her relationship with her daughter Abigail, and her wit, made her my favourite character. There were some classic lines about the things we all do and the fears we all have. I'm not a mother, but I recognised these characters from my life. 

While this book follows a crime and has strong elements of mystery, it's not your typical thriller at all. It's about women, friendship, mothering, marriage, love, and so much more. It's about understanding the past and moving forward. In short, there are so many layers that I'll be thinking about Big Little Lies for a long, long time. 

WARNING: SPOILER SECTION BELOW. 

I never normally include spoiler sections but in this case I have to. I have never read a book that handles the topic of abuse so well. Celeste's conflicting mindset about Perry as a good father and bad husband was so real. I couldn't stop thinking about the way she convinced herself to leave, but then changed her mind over and over, and her feelings of shame, as if she was being judged. It's terrifying that it felt so realistic. It's easy to say abuse is being hit, having a black eye, and leaving your husband. It's a lot more mature and thought-provoking to draw attention to the confusion of it all; the cocktail of love and hate and self-blame. 

It's safe to say that I am now a Moriarty fangirl. I need to get my hands on a copy of her latest novel, Truly Madly Guilty!

What other Moriarty novels do you hope to see adapted?

Love, Jess

Thank you to Penguin for my copy.

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