Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty
By Liane Moriarty
Published: July 26, 2016

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?
In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

My review:

Erika and Clementine have a strange friendship. Both women have very different family backgrounds that influenced who they became as adults, particularly Erika who adores Clementine's mother and grew up trying to emulate her. On the surface Erika is uptight and controlled and Clementine finds it difficult to be around her. Although Erika's husband Oliver is more likable, the couples have stilted conversation when they are together so when Erika's neighbor Vid invites them to a barbecue when Clementine is supposed to be coming over, Erika agrees. Clementine and Sam like Vid and his wife Tiffany and find it much easier to talk to them They had a lot of fun together when they met at a party of Erika's. Unfortunately this time something happens at the barbecue that changes the lives of everyone present.

Before the barbecue, Clementine was focused on an important upcoming cello audition and she and Sam had a loving marriage. Everything seemed to be falling into place. After the barbecue, she and Sam are barely speaking to each other and their marriage is on the rocks. Erika and Oliver have their own issues to deal with including Erika's mother and a big secret. Worst of all, Erika has blacked out what happened at the barbecue and she is struggling to remember something important.

At first I thought it was harder to identify with Erika but as her secrets were revealed I felt more sympathy for her. Clementine had what seemed to be an ideal life but now she is struggling. Both women need each other but have so much to work through before they can even think about renewing a friendship. Something Liane Moriarty does well is explore female friendships and their complications and intricacies. 

Truly Madly Guilty reminded me of Big Little Lies in the way it used a similar storytelling device--the reader learns early on about a big incident that took place but what actually happened is slowly revealed. In this case it is a terrible incident that occurred at the barbecue and the story flashes back and forth between the day of the barbecue and present day where the characters are living with the fallout. While this can increase suspense, I found the pacing to be slow until the last half of the book but readers who stick with it will be rewarded in the end.  I think readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies or The Husband's Secret will like Truly Madly Guilty. While I prefer Big Little Lies, I liked this novel and think it would make a great choice for summer reading or book discussion groups.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Nice review, the first one I've seen I think. I loved Big Little Lies so I've been waiting for this one. My only concern is I hope every book doesn't just use the BLL formula. But then again I loved BLL so maybe it's okay. :) At any rate looking forward to this very much.

  2. I still need to read Big Little Lies and I just got this one from the library as well. I will hope to read both this summer...I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall. It does seem like a page turner. Thanks for the great review, Christina!


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