Book Review: Big Little Lies

5 out of 5 stars

Format: Audiobook - Adult Contemporary - Amazon Summary:

"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. 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. And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. 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. Young, single mom Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. 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.

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."

I admit I read this book after watching the star-studded cast of the HBO miniseries. While every adaptation has its own spin, I found the characters to be spot on, which made the visualization easy while listening to the Audible format. Contrary to some reviews, I found the characters to be rich and realistic! While I was reading, I told my husband, "we all know someone like this!" Despite their quirks (or maybe even because of them), I found the cast incredibly charming, witty, and just plain fun to read about. Moriarty does an incredible job keeping a light tone with some serious issues. It keeps the reader from feeling bogged down by the drama, while still tugging us along through the intricate mystery of whodunnit.

The story takes on a lot: schoolyard bullies, marital conflict, domestic violence, dark pasts, and sexual abuse. It examines the cruelty of people and the lies we tell ourselves and others to dismiss it, or cover it up. I think Moriarty does well to take the "ignorance is bliss" idiom and throw it back in our faces. It's not bliss. It's terrifying, and risky, and no one's really happier keeping those secrets to themselves. It only appears that way. 

Moriarty's craft of writing is downright inspirational. Her descriptions are poetic and unique, and gives us little flashes of literary gold in between all the gossipy characters we come to love. The book is also much lighter than the miniseries. If the show was a bit dark for you, I think you'll definitely enjoy the book. Listening to it was more fun for me because I 100% bought into the gossipy feel of the whole novel. If you have Audible, I'd highly recommend it! 

There isn't much I didn't like about this book! Again, I saw the show, so I knew how it ended, and I knew how to navigate the "Greek chorus" of interview snippets (I saw another book reviewer phrase it like that and thought it was brilliant). The style is an homage to Greek tragedy for sure.

I could have done without the painfully slow opening. Don't get me wrong, I love a drawn out explanation of when and where we are. I like to feel grounded in a setting before I'm thrown into action, but Moriarty spent an entire chapter in the space and mind of a character we literally never see again. I think maybe the character's daughter comes in for a hot second, but even at the end of the book, I was wondering why we needed to know all about that woman.  

Overall, this was a solid 5 star book. One of the best I've read this year...maybe ever. It's humorous, but serious when it needs to be. It's not as black and white as the miniseries version, and made me think long after I'd turned off the audiobook. It's much more akin to real life than the series, but both are worth your time. There's really no replacement for a writer's vision though, so grab a copy of Big Little Lies asap!