I read “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty a while back. It has been made into a TV series recently, I started watching the show and remembered the book.
It starts with a loud thump, so to speak. Someone has been killed at a school trivia night. The interesting and unusual thing is, that we as readers, are kept in the dark as to who has been murdered. When it comes to the suspects, it looks like it may almost be anyone and everyone from the community. There is a lot of tension and we are shown, retrospectively how it has escalated to such an extend that one person ended up dead.
Madeline Martha Mackenzie, a stay at home mum, is a constant presence in the small community, while Renata has a high flying carrier. They children go to the same class. (As soon as I became a mum I realised what a strong divide has arose between the stay at home and the working mums. I belong to the latter group but I believe we are all doing our best and hope to raise happy and healthy kids. Nevertheless I was surprised to have some strong opinions thrown in my face by some of the mums even though I didn’t ask for them and didn’t judge anyone else’s choices. Therefore I would like to take this opportunity and ask all the mums to be understanding and support one another, regardless of their personal views in this matter. Sorry for the digression.)
What makes things worse between the mums in the book is an incident that happens on the first day of school after the summer holidays. A new student, Ziggy is accused of attempting to choke Amabella, who happens to be Renata’s daughter. There are no doubts that the sweet little girl has been hurt by somebody as there are visible marks on her throat but the new kid Ziggy strongly denies the accusations and his mother Jane Chapman, who has recently befriended Madeline, has no reason not to believe him, as Ziggy has been nothing but kind and gentle so far.
Parents are now taking sides, supporting either of the two strong women, Madeline or Renata. Small doubts are entering Jane’s thoughts as she fears that maybe her beloved son has inherited violent behaviour from his father. She is new in town having escaped the last place, where she feared that the child’s father might return and hurt her.
Apart from the drama that’s out in the open all mothers have their own personal issues. Jane is trying to forget the traumatic experience she went through. Renata is feeling guilty that her job takes so much of her time. Madeline struggles to come to terms with the fact that her ex husband can be such a caring father to his new daughter Sky, whom he has with his new young and attractive wife Bonnie, while he failed to do the same for their adolescent daughter Abigail in the past. To make things more difficult for Madeline, Abigail constantly praises Bonnie. Madeline’s second husband Ed is very understanding and sensible about the situation, but even his patience starts to wear off as he is beginning to feel neglected. Celeste, the mom of two twin boys is being abused by he husband and keeps it a secret from everyone.
Another fuse bursts between Renata and Madeline when Renata gets other parents to sign a petition that closes down a school play which Madeline was in charge of. When Madeline’s friends wonder why she is so worked up about a school play, she confesses that as much as she loves being a stay at home mum it is not enough for her, that she misses work. Cleste then admits the same, says that she misses practicing law.
The book is fast paced and keeps the reader interested. I am granting it 4 apples, plums or clouds.
Apple, plums or clouds rating:
– one of the best books I read
– good read
– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better
– don’t waste your time