This was my first Lianne Moriarty and since then I’ve read another and am now on my third! I love the characters she portrays; they’re so authentic and relatable. I do have a couple of issues with how she frequently changes viewpoint characters, but clearly it’s not been enough to dissuade me from picking up more of her work.
Big Little Lies follows three women, Madeline, Celeste and Jane who all become friends. Jane has just moved to the two women’s neighbourhood with her son, Ziggy, who is starting pre-school with their children.
The beginning of the book introduces us to a neighbour who hears a lot of noise coming from the local primary school where the parents of the pre-school children are having a trivia night. We sense that something has gone on at this trivia night and realise its gravity when we read snippets of interviews from the people who were there and have been taken by the police. This happens at the end of every chapter and it is often a prelude as to what will be revealed in the following chapter. The initial chapter works very well at establishing tension as we know somethings happened, but not what. It’s not until the final chapters of the book that we find out exactly what.
Chapter two is set six months before the trivia night and each chapter after gets closer to the night. At the start of this chapter we meet Jane and soon enough Madeline and Celeste. Much of the book centres around the ridiculous carry on amongst the parents of the children. They all seemed to be in competition with themselves and were very caught up in the ‘politics’ of pre-school. As tiresome as this sounds I didn’t get bored by it as it was weaved through with more weighty topics and encompassed what I’ve now learnt is Moriarty’s trademark humour.
What struck me most was how realistic it was. I could virtually see these parents getting all bent out of shape about whatever school issue was bothering them at the time. Then there was Madeline who was having trouble with her teenage daughter that could so easily happen. Finally there was Celeste whose marriage problems are more common than we like to think.
The main problem I had with it, other than the length which was a bit much (460 pages) was the continual swapping between point-of-view characters. This happened a lot and although it was pretty seamless, it was still a bit jarring. Funnily enough what I disliked most about the book was what made the thing I liked most possible and by that I mean perspective. I loved how I was able to see the perspective of 3 characters. Overall I think that was one of the key themes, how interchangeable perspective ultimately is.
I would recommend this to anyone who wants a light read with a fair bit of tension.