Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. 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 (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, 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.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? 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.
The book begins with hints at the main climax of the story. We know there is a trivia night on at the local school and that there is a commotion, followed by a scream. From the get-go we are given dialogue excerpts from various parents who attended that night and it quickly becomes clear that they are being interviewed in a murder investigation.
Then we are taken back six months…
It’s the orientation day for the kindergarten children of Pirriwee and we are first introduced to Madeline, Jane and Celeste, as well as the stereotypical helicopter parents of Pirriwee, especially the mothers, who have a mentality of my child is better than yours. So naturally when one of the children comes out crying and with bruises on her, chaos ensues. Jane’s little boy Ziggy is blamed resulting in a series of events that draws enemy lines and shows that the drama is outside the classroom, not inside.
Almost every chapter ends with speculation from the parents on what went on in the lead-up to the trivia night. I rather enjoyed this because it showed just how varied perspectives can be from people who have witnessed the same events. Some see an action as innocent, others see it as malicious, and so forth.
There are a lot of questions thrown up in the air from the beginning, with the main ones being Who’s dead? Who’s the killer? But you also wonder about whether or not Ziggy is the class bully, or is there something else going on? Fortunately I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the mysteries, despite there being so many. What I did feel was I found myself feeling almost protective of the three women, who have all been wronged in some way, shape or form.
I absolutely adore Madeline and her loyalty to her friends. Despite barely knowing Jane, she declares war on the mothers who see Ziggy as a monster.
For me, each of the women bring something to the table that makes this book so enjoyable. There is nothing outrageously different from mine, yours or anyone’s close knit community, where everyone knows everyone and [thinks] they know everything there is to know about each other. It’s essentially real women with real problems and Moriarty’s ability to keep you guessing right up until the end never wavers.
Full of humour, drama and everything in between, Big Little Lies is a gripping read that I highly recommend.
5 out of 5