Book Review: Big Little Lies

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Finding a good book… one of life’s true struggles. Am I the only one who finds it extremely hard to find a book that I will enjoy and read in a week, let alone one that I love and will read in a day?

I discovered Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the wrong way around. You’re meant to read a book first and then watch the series, right? No judgement please. After finishing the entire series of Friends for the 100th time, I flicked aimlessly through my Sky Box sets in search of something I hadn’t watched before, something fresh. The series Big Little Lies seemed to ring a bell, which I soon realised was because of its incredible star-studded line up – Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. Wow. This alone was enough to have me sold and 24 hours later I had watched the entire series (I may have too much time on my hands).

I’m not surprised that this novel was a New York Times best seller, as I had all 450 pages read within two days. The story tells the gripping tale of three mothers: Madeline, a funny and feisty mum who struggles with forgiving her ex-husband and dealing with her teenage daughter; Celeste, an extraordinarily beautiful and incredibly wealthy mum who has the perfect life and the perfect house and the perfect husband and the perfect family – or seemingly so; Jane, a single mum who is judged by the other school mums for not having a husband and for being so young she gets mistaken for the nanny. The three females are friends whose children attend the same school and who meet for coffee on a regular basis in their local coffee shop – sounds pretty ordinary, right?

While this story is essentially one of murder, Moriarty (also the author of The Husband’s Secret), does not stick to the stereotypical concept of a murder mystery. She captures the real-life struggles of these women so accurately – Madeline fears turning 40, Jane has issues with her weight, Celeste minds her children after giving up a high-powered career. Moriarty uses the perspectives of the three women to depict their inner individual struggles, and indeed their opinions on each other’s struggles – which of course, we all have. The script is so ordinary, with so many ordinary situations and ordinary circumstances that the novel’s final sentence of “This can happen to anyone.” is slightly terrifying. Bearing in mind it’s a murder mystery (not to give too much away!).

Every woman in the twenty first century would be lying if they said they didn’t ask themselves “What photo should I post on Instagram? Does this outfit make me look fat? Do I look as pretty as her?”. Moriarty tugs on every female reader’s heartstrings as she brilliantly states “It’s because a woman’s entire self-worth rests on her looks”.

Author: Liane Moriarty

After reading the novel, I looked up Liane Moriarty to see if she was a mother herself and was not surprised to see that she was – in fact, I think this book would have been impossible to write were she not a mother. However, you do not need to be a parent to enjoy Big Little Lies – I’m not a parent and I loved it. The script of the petty school mums (and one stay-at-home dad) throughout the novel depicts the ridiculously accurate judgement that people have on other people’s lives: “I saw the twins eating lollipops for breakfast on their first day of school!”. Although I would love to say that this isn’t realistic of something someone would say, I’m afraid that Moriarty is only too accurate in portraying the pressure put upon parents by other parents and indeed generally, by other people. However, this novel isn’t just about females or parents, it’s about real human struggles.

I was right, the book was even better than the series. The written word allows more storylines to be explored and further character depth, helping some themes unfold that hadn’t been just as clear in the series, so it’s definitely worth a read. To make everything more exciting, there is going to be a series two of Big Little Lies. The storyline is being written by Liane Moriarty herself and this time it’s going to be starring the one and only, Meryl Streep!

Suzy Spence

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