Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Oh Lord, this book. This book. I have literally just finished the last page and I’m trying to work out how to describe how much I loved it without giving away anything that happens. I might be in the mood for italics and emphasis right now but oh that is how much I enjoyed this book.

I’ve read two of Liane Moriarty’s books before, The Husbands Secret and What Alice Forgot, but this one is by far my favourite (and as soon as I’m home I’m ordering her whole bibliography I swear). The writing is to her usual excellent standard, sometimes funny, sometimes hitting you hard in the face. The story is told from the angle of three different characters; Jane, who has just moved to town with her five year old boy; Madeline, who is described as ‘a force to be reckoned with’ and Celeste, who is beautiful but skittish. All three have secrets, all three have children just starting kindergarten (A word I hate, by the way. As someone who occasionally teaches our equivalent I have the idea of Early Years Foundation Stage so inherently ingrained in me that every other English speaking country’s name just grates!) all three become good friends.

On the surface, the book is all about whispered rumours and playground gossip and, basically, Mum’s sticking their oar in where it doesn’t belong. There’s accusations of bullying, petitions to get a five year old suspended, rumours of infidelity and bad parenting. All wrapped up in the guise of snippets of a journalists report of a murder, or ‘incident’, at the school’s trivia night.

The whodunnit element is only the second most compelling part of the story, after the whowasdunnito. From page 9’s ‘this is a murder investigation’ to  page 428, where the death actually happens, we do not know who died. I could have hazarded a guess, and by two thirds of the way in I had a fair idea who I wanted it to be… But it still hit me in a sort of ‘oh my fucking god’ kind of way.

And the surface gossip of the journalist interviews only highlight the underlying point of the story; you don’t know. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or past the Facebook statuses or underneath people’s carefully crafted outfits. We find out more about each character in teasing glimpses until the people on the balcony that fateful trivia night are so far removed from from the versions of themselves that the arguing people inside think they know it’s almost comical.

I loved it, it was a perfectly crafted combination of chick lit and thriller to the point where it felt like neither one at all. I have literally thrown it at my best friend demanding she read it and I metaphorically do the same to anyone reading this right now.


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