Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. Three women who are so different, yet they become the best of friends. Madeline is struggling to cope after her husband left her—and then had the nerve to stay in town with his new wife, so that she has to see him all the time. Celeste has the perfect life, looking in from the outside, but really, things are a mess. While Jane, a single mother whose son is accused of biting another child during orientation, is trying to fit into a new community where she started off on the wrong foot. The friendship of these three women will change things irrevocably, all leading up to one fateful night no one saw coming.
A thoughtful novel about three very different women, Big Little Lies deals with some weighty issues, but its chatty nature and the overarching mystery keep the novel enjoyable from beginning to end.
When Big Little Lies begins, you know just one thing: someone will be dead by the end of the novel. Ominous? Yes, definitely. The novel starts out with the police trying to puzzle out what exactly happened during the school’s trivia night, interviewing people at the event about what they saw and who might have had motive to kill the person. These interviews are also interspersed through the chapters; as a result, the mystery is drawn out over the course of the book, even though it’s not really the focal point of the narrative, providing tension and making the reader guess who the victim might be. It’s elegantly done and definitely suspenseful.
There are three women at the center of Big Little Lies: Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. They all harbor their own secrets and are presenting a face to the world that they don’t always live up to, much like the rest of us. These women are realistic and sympathetic; readers will really enjoy getting to know each of them intimately.
Big Little Lies deals with serious topics, though it’s cloaked in the prose of a light, chatty novel. Abuse weighs heavily on this novel, and some aspects of it are difficult to read. It’s interesting to see how Moriarty deals with this as well as the commentary she subtly provides. What’s certain is that the author is concerned about the treatment of women and is making a stand in her own way. It’s well done, and worth talking about.
Liane Moriarty’s novels always make for great summer reads (and great book club picks as well), and Big Little Lies is no exception. It’s about the lies we tell others, and the lies we tell ourselves, and how at the end of the day, it’s our own false stories that will tear us apart. It’s a fun novel, but also deadly serious at times, and readers will enjoy delving deep into this one.
Other books by Liane Moriarty: