Discovering author Liane Moriarty is like unearthing a treasure. I had never heard of her until I read a snippet book review of Big Little Lies. It’s not the type of book I usually read (it’s set in suburban-mom-world) but am I ever glad I picked it up!
Quick summary of the plot: Madeline Mackenzie is a just-turned-40 stay-at-home-mom. Jane Chapman is a single mom new to the very “precious” coastal down of Perriwee, Australia. The beautiful Celeste is a wealthy, married mom of two… with a secret. The book is party murder mystery, part social satire, and the mystery has a twist: we find out at the beginning of the book that someone has been murdered, but we don’t know who. The story is told in two timeframes: one, witness statements after the murder; two, the story of how these three women bond, connect, and begin to learn that their lives have been interconnected since long before they knew each other. I don’t want to give any more of the plot away because it’s full of such delicious twists, turns, and carefully revealed secrets… but let me say, you will be hooked!
At first I was a bit turned off by the suburban-mom-world setting; that was until Moriarty’s biting satire of this world started to bubble up through the plot. There are other competitive “Kindy moms” (mothers with kindergarten-age children) in the plot, and they are sent up beautifully by Moriarty: from the near-bullies to the anxious followers. That, added to reading the story from three different perspectives (Madeline, Jane, and Celeste) makes for delightful insight into the world of parents who are overachieving, overprotective, and overly invested in their children.
The plot is a slow-boiler at first, but soon takes you over. It involves bullying accusations among the children, overreaction of the parents, marriages, relationships… this just doesn’t do justice to how tightly woven and well thought out the plot is… not to mention page-turning! Most of all, for me, it’s the characters that are truly remarkable: the three main characters in particular are so incredibly believable that I really felt, after reading this book, like I could sit down and have a chat with any of them. In fact, I wanted to!
OK, so I know I haven’t given you much on the plot but that’s because I don’t want to present any spoilers. Let’s just say you’ll be shocked by the murder and delighted at the resolution.
I am now fully hooked on Liane Moriarty, and trying to read her previous novels slowly, otherwise I’ll find myself sending her harassing emails that say “WRITE FASTER!”