It was always going to end in tears, but how did it end in murder?
Single mum Jane has just moved to town. She’s got her little boy in tow – plus the secret she’s been carrying for five years.
On the first day of the school run she meets Madeline – a force to be reckoned with, who remembers everything and forgives no one – and Celeste, the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but is inexplicably ill at ease. They both take Jane under their wing – while careful to keep their own secrets under wraps.
But a minor incident involving the children of all three women rapidly escalates: playground whispers become spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies.
Which is when the secrets come out – and now someone is going to pay with their life…
I read this book somewhere in the first quarter of 2019, and even then I knew I was far behind on the Big Little Lies hype, and boy, did I regret leaving it that late! I’d seen loads of people rave about the tv show that was based on this book, and even my mum read it before I ever even got my hands on it. So when I went to the library sometime at the start of last year – and after reading Three Wishes first -, I decided to finally give this one a go. And I was definitely not disappointed.
Full disclosure: This review was written in March of 2019, but since I hadn’t gotten around to posting it I’m doing it now.
The book begins from the point of view of an elderly lady who lives close to Pirriwee Public School, which is the local primary school. She knows all the parents who drop off their children in the morning, if not by name then at least by face, and knows about all the different events going on at the school. And on this particular night, the school has organised a trivia night with a dress-up element. While Mrs Ponder – the elderly lady – is watching tv, she hears a lot of noise coming from the school. It seems like people are fighting. Just as she wonders whether or not she should call the police, she can hear sirens in the distance. The chapter ends with what seem like police statements by different people. And that is where the story starts.
In the next chapters, we are taken back in time to see the events that led up to this trivia night slowly unfold. We start by going back six months in time, to when Madeline, Jane and Celeste first meet. But not only do the chapters make a few time jumps, they also switch between the points of view of the three main characters, providing us with a unique insight into their personal lives – an insight even most of the people in their direct environment don’t get. This means that you start to really feel for these three women, and you’re almost creating a very personal bond with them. And on top of all that, there is that looming sense of dread that’s always in the back of your head as we get closer and closer to that fateful trivia night, which is even further enhanced by the ‘police statements’ that appear at the end of a number of the chapters. You’re constantly wondering: but who dies?
At the end of every chapter, you’re always left hungry for more. Honestly, I couldn’t put this book down, but strangely I also didn’t want it to end – it was just that good. The plot twists just seem to keep piling up, both minor and major, and all you want to do is find out what exactly is going on and how it’s going to end. When I was nearing the end of the book, though, I purposely started pacing myself to make sure I wouldn’t finish it too soon, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters yet. That hasn’t happened to me very often. I kid you not, Liane Moriarty is the master of creating relatable and likable characters, even though they are very much flawed human beings. Or maybe that is exactly why you like them that much, because they are so imperfect and real.
Inevitably, though, the story does come to an end. And let me tell you, I did not see that twist at the end coming. At all. Throughout reading the book, you’re constantly questioning what’s going on, and when you think you’ve got it all figured out… Something else comes along that proves you totally wrong. Honestly, you expect the book to go one way and then it suddenly takes a completely unexpected turn that leaves you shocked. I was so surprised (kinda pleasantly, I think) that I couldn’t help but immediately read some of the ending out loud to my boyfriend! Afterwards, he told me he was happy that I’d finally found a book I was this into again, because it had been quite a while. So thank you for that, Ms Moriarty.
Overall, I think it’s safe to say that I enjoyed reading Big Little Lies. Apart from being an absolutely thrilling read, this book also serves as a reminder that you can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s head, let alone their life. I will definitely be recommending this book to everyone in my environment, and that includes you. So, what are you waiting for?
If you’ve read Big Little Lies (or seen the series), do let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to discuss this further.
I hope you enjoyed reading and I’ll see you again next week with a new blog post!
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