Big Little Lies
Released: July 2014
“All conflict can be traced back to someone’s feelings getting hurt, don’t you think? Divorce. World Wars. Legal action. Well, maybe not every legal action’.”
Witty. Fun. Murder. Glamorous.
All of these are words to describe Liane Moriarty’s book Big Little Lies. A posh town in Australia full of lavish lifestyles and compelling characters comes head on with a murder mystery from the very first chapters of the book.
We open the book the night of trivia night at Pirriwee Public School. The story starts out in the viewpoint of Mrs. Ponder. Mrs. Ponder is a little lady who lives alone next to the school. She hears quite a ruckus outside and finds it slightly odd for such a racket to be coming from a trivia night at a school. Soon, she sees a fight breaking out, hears a scream, and the cops show up.We get quotes from various characters in the book and the final quote is from a detective declaring that this is a murder investigation.
Literally within the first couple of pages you are thrown into a “who done it” scenario. The next chapter goes back in time to six months before the trivia night and works its way up to the event. We begin to meet the three main characters starting with Madeline Martha Mackenzie. She is described as a girly girl with an upbeat personality. The book opens with Madeline taking her youngest daughter Chloe to her kindergarten orientation. She notices the car full of teenagers in front of her are texting while driving and this prompts Madeline to get out of the car and say something to the girls. Upon doing so and walking back to her car she turns her ankle and inevitably cannot get up. Jane Chapman, a young mother of a son named Ziggy, is in the car behind her and sees the whole mess. She gets out to help Madeline and the two strike up a friendship. Since they’re going the same place, Jane offers Madeline and Chloe a ride to orientation. Jane is a young, simple, kind of plain, single mother. The two end up going to a small coffee shop together and then we are introduced to Celeste Wright. She is described to be gut-wrenching beautiful, tall, slim, and quiet. She has twin boys and is married to what everyone describes as a man that looks like a movie star. The ladies end up having a glass of wine to celebrate Madeline’s birthday before going back to pick up the children from orientation.
At orientation we briefly meet Renata, mother of gifted child Amabella. As the children get out we learn that there has been an issue and one of the kids choked Amabella. Renata is immediately defensive, as any mother would be, and demands to know who hurt her daughter. Reluctantly, Amabella points at Ziggy, the new kid and Jane’s son. He claims that it wasn’t him, but Renata demands punishment for it. This starts an all out war between Renata and her clique, and Jane, Madeline, and Celeste.
From this point on, the book builds on the drama between the parents and the lives of the three main women. We learn more about each of them and their pasts, as well as their lives now. We learn about Madeline and her first marriage to Nathan. Nathan left her when their daughter Abigail was just a baby. They both remarried: Madeline to sensitive, sweet Ed and Nathan to carefree, hippie Bonnie. Nathan and Bonnie have a daughter the same age as Madeline and Ed’s daughter Chloe. Madeline resents Nathan for leaving her and Abigail. We learn about Jane and Ziggy’s father, and how their relationship was. We learn about why she moved to start a new life. We learn about Celeste and Perry, and how Perry is abusive to her. But she loves him too much to leave, no matter how scared she is. We learn about Perry’s family and past, and more about how strong Celeste is.
The book touches on important topics such as domestic violence, bullying, rape, divorce, and so much more. The stories that this book tells are fun, sometimes intense, and interesting to say the least. The whole murder mystery will keep you on your toes and have you wondering who’s dead and who did it up until the very last pages. You won’t get bored waiting to find out who did it, however. Moriarty keeps the book interesting and fun between all of the mess. Her writing style is fantastic and she really knows how to hook you in and keep you coming back for more. I love a book that can shock and surprise me as well as make me laugh, and this one does all of it. Madeline is the character I identify with the most. We’re both a little blunt, we hold grudges when we shouldn’t, and we care about our friends and family more than life itself.
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while, and one that I’ve enjoyed the most. Most people categorize this book as “chick-lit”, but I think its something most people could enjoy. There’s also an HBO limited series on right now as well, so if you’re like me and love to compare, it’s the perfect time to pick up a copy of the book and read if before you check out the show!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5