Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies
By Liane Moriarty
Published: July 29, 2014

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?). 

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

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.  

My review:

I think Big Little Lies is even better than Liane Moriarty's previous bestselling book, The Husband's Secret. The pacing flows quickly helped along by the countdown to the fatal Trivia Night and interspersed with interview quotes with other parents and teachers at the school. 

The three main characters Madeline, Celeste, and Jane all have compelling individual story lines however Madeline at first seemed less interesting than Celeste and Jane who both had big secrets to deal with. Madeline initially reminded me of Cecilia Fitzpatrick from The Husband's Secret and I also thought there were some similarities between Jane and Tess (also from THS) because both were basically single mothers new to town and the school. While there are some similarities between the books, I was relieved to find that Big Little Lies took a different path. I liked the element of suspense and trying to figure out who died on Trivia Night.

I found Jane and Celeste's stories to be moving. I won't go into details to avoid spoiling the book but they both have dark secrets in their lives. Even Madeline's struggles with her eldest daughter touched me. I didn't like Madeline as much but I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. It would not be easy to be in the situation she faces with her ex-husband and his new wife living in the same community and watching how he treats his new daughter compared to how he wasn't there for Madeline and their daughter. I also liked how she could be protective of her friends and family. 

The school and the issues with bullying were frustrating to read about. I felt sorry for those involved and it made me angry with all the gossip and the useless response of the school to some of it. The community is very gossipy and not very welcoming to outsiders but thankfully for Jane, Madeline and Celeste take her under their wing. 

Overall I really enjoyed Big Little Lies. It is a page turner but it also made me want to cry at times because of the issues faced by the characters.  In a way this book reminded me of the movie American Beauty and the way outwardly perfect lives can hide big secrets. There is some humor too as well as a little romance. There is a little element of mystery but it isn't a true mystery novel. I think this would be a good pick for book discussion groups and readers who enjoy Jojo Moyes. It is definitely one of my favorites of 2014.

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


  1. Moriarty writes such good books.

    I have this on my shelf.

    I need to get to it.

    Thanks for your great review.


  2. Awesome review! I have been wanting to read a book by Moriarty, so I will have to check this one out. I like that you compare it to American Beauty…love that movie!

  3. Curious about the dark secrets in Jane and Celeste's lives...sounds like a fascinating story!

    Great review :D

  4. Fabulous review, and better than The Husband's Secret ... wow I seriously cannot wait to read this one ... love Liane Moriarty!!

  5. This definitely looks like a good discussion group book. I like that it has mystery elements and humor as well. Looks like a great read.


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