Book: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Chick-lit
Synopsis: Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
This book is not what I was expecting it to be from the synopsis. I thought that it was going to be your typical murder mystery; the murder happening at the beginning and then the rest of the novel trying to figure out who did it. But I was surprised to find out that the novel follows a structure different to the norm.
You find out at the beginning of the book that someone dies, you just don’t find out who. So that is the main mystery, rather than trying to figure out who did it, you have to try and figure out who was the victim.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Even though it started off a bit slow and it took me a while to get into the actual plot, I enjoyed it overall! The slow beginning sets up the layout of the book and introducing the whole cast of characters all at once. The book is set out in two parts; the first is past and the events leading up to the event known throughout the book as ‘Trivia Night’. This is where you get to know the lives of the three main characters, Celeste, Jane and Madeline, three mums who all have kids starting school. Each chapter focuses on a different mum and her struggles in her home/personal life. All three characters learn an important lesson impacting their own lives, seeing them grow as characters throughout the novel and has important messages for the readers.
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one.
Madeline was the character who, on the surface, had the least development throughout the book but has an important storyline about learning to forgive, move on and let go of the past. She sometimes lets the past creep back in and affect her present relationships but is a whirlwind of a character, bringing comedic relief to serious storylines happening to the other characters. She always tries to help out her friends and will do anything to protect her loved ones. By the end of the novel, Madeline realises that holding on to grudges and the past isn’t doing her any good and is getting to be a little toxic, slowly creeping in and affecting her present relationship and life, not allowing her to move forward and enjoy her life for what it is.
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare.
On the surface Celeste comes across as a glamourous housewife who doesn’t have a care in the world, but that is just the façade she puts on to hide the truth from the world, including her best friend. She has, in my opinion, the most important storyline in the book. Her story arc is about dealing with an abusive partner whilst trying to maintain this perfect life. This character felt so real to me. The emotion and the fear that Moriarty conveys through this character is so real and well-rounded that I felt as though I was reading about a real person. Throughout the novel she expresses to both the reader and the counsellor she goes to that she feels as though it’s her fault, which a lot of domestic abuse victims say to make excuses as they are too scared to take any action, fearful of how their abuser will react, which is exactly how Celest feels. I feel as though this is such an important storyline that hopefully it will help just one person come to realise that they are not alone and that there are people willing to help them get out.
Single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbours secret doubts about her son.
Out of the three main characters, Jane is the character who got the most development throughout the novel. She starts out as this mousy, quiet woman who just tries to blend into the background and move through life unnoticed. Most of the plot focuses on Jane and her young son Ziggy moving to the town, but on the first day of school, things don’t go to plan for the pair. As the reader learns about Jane’s past and why she is the way she is, you see her start to come out of her shell and by the end of the novel she is more confident, starting not to care what others are saying about her and her family. She also has an important message that comes through to the readers and that is not to let anyone destroy your self-worth, don’t listen to gossip or rumours, just be yourself and the people who care will love you just the same.
The second part of this book is snippets of what happened at the Trivia Night and about the events happening throughout the book by all the secondary characters who are being interviewed. The different cliques amongst the parents, a trope usually found in Young Adult books, shows that adults can be just as bad, if not worse, than teenagers when it comes to protecting their children and making sure they get the best life possible.
I have to admit that I found this style of writing a bit confusing and kept getting muddled up with what character was on what side of the story. I feel as though it could have done without the interview snippets and just focused on the main plotline with the spotlight on Celeste, Jane and Madeline.
The mystery aspect of this novel was quite intriguing. It picked up in the second half of the book and due to the chapters being quite short it kept you hooked and wanting to read on to find out the truth. I can sometimes guess what the reveal is going to be, and I had two characters in mind who I thought was going to be the one who was murdered but I was wrong. I was, however, totally shocked by the ending of Chapter 75….. I was not expecting that!!
Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised that the book didn't focus solely on the murder, but instead on the lives of the three women. And even though they are fictional characters, Moriarty did such an amazing job bringing them to life that I 100% believe that they could be based on real people. The emotion and the topics dealt with are tough, but things that everyone reading the book need to be aware of.
The ending of the novel is so important, and a message that everyone needs to hear;
This can happen to anyone.
Rating: 4 out of 5