What’s it all about:
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 bought this book some time ago after perusing (read, spending HOURS) looking at the wonderful Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram account – which is a beauty, you really should all go check her out. Anyway, I digress. SO, Reese Witherspoon had a photograph of Big Little Lies on her Instagram along with a few other books, and after being drawn to the cover, I decided that next time I was in Tescos, I’d buy it. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are also making the book into a TV series which I will most definitely be watching after reading the book.
Big Little Lies focuses on the lives of 3 women in Australia whose children are all starting kindergarten at the same time. There is the fiercely loyal and slightly overdramatic Madeline, the beautiful but seemingly vacant Celeste, and the new mum to the area, Jane. The story takes place over the course of 6 months in the build up to trivia night, where we discover that something quite traumatic and sinister has happened. A parent has been murdered.
I did worry at first that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the many names that were thrown at me when the story began but of course, once you get past the first section which is really a police interview with fellow kindergarten parents and teachers, you get into the flow of the story and begin to fall for both the characters’ charms and flaws.
At orientation day for the children, the daughter of an obnoxious and career driven mother, Renata, is attacked by a fellow child. The child appears to have attempted to strangle the young girl and when the son of Jane has the finger pointed at him by the victim, all hell breaks loose. Madeline is fiercely loyal to Jane, who I have to point out she just met that day, but nonetheless, she defends Jane and young Ziggy (yes, really) to the point where playground war is all but declared. Team Madeline, or Team Renata.
The story focuses on Madeline, Celeste and Jane each in turn which I find really helps you get to know the characters even better.
Jane is a single mum at 24 to 5 year old Ziggy, and doesn’t know anyone in the area. She keeps herself to herself and tries her best to defend and protect her child as more and more outrageous accusations are thrown their way. Ziggy is declared a bully and when a petition is passed around the playground to have him kicked out, your heart really does go out to poor Jane. But in gradual trickles, we see how Jane can’t help but wonder whether her son could indeed be a bully. The worry, the concern, the panic that her precious boy could be what those people are saying weighs heavily on her mind until finally, she confides in Madeline that Ziggy is in fact, the product of a rape and Jane worries whether Ziggy could have inherited some of his father’s uglier traits. Madeline is obviously outraged on Jane’s behalf but sworn to secrecy.
Madeline is also going through her own personal hell. Her youngest daughter is starting kindergarten the same day as Ziggy….and her ex-husband’s daughter! To have your ex and his new wife living so close and their child in the same class must have been soul destroying. Although Madeline has moved on and has married again, you can’t help but feel the hurt she still feels and the anger towards her ex who abandoned Madeline when their eldest daughter, his daughter, was just a baby. Of course, to make matters worse, the eldest daughter much prefers spending time with her dad and step-mum and announces one day that she’s moving in with them. I did love Madeline, even if she sometimes seemed to get just the slightest bit of pleasure at having someone else’s problems being a welcomed distraction for her own. She was human, she was flawed, but she also knew it. She had a huge heart and quick wit and between Madeline and Celeste, you just knew that Jane was in safe hands.
Now, Celeste. When we’re first introduced to Celeste, you get a woman who is married to an obscenely rich man, Perry, who adores her and their twin boys (who are also starting kindergarten) and showers them all with gifts every time he returns from a business trip. We learn that Perry can do no wrong, not only is he a devoted family man with a big fat bank account, he is also extraordinarily generous and a master at gift buying. When the family go to Canada at Christmas and we’re reading about Celeste’s thoughts, I almost gasped aloud when on Christmas Day, she looks at her husband and thinks about how there was really no need to leave him just yet, not until their boys finished high school…. ‘On the day they finished their last exams. ‘Put down your pens,’ the exam supervisors would say. That’s when Celeste would put down her marriage.’ But of course, no marriage is perfect, and we eventually learn just how toxic her life really is.
It’s so incredibly hard for me not to shout out the hows and the whys I loved this book without revealing some spoilers. So, sooooo hard. Liane is truly a wordsmith that pulls you in and keeps you in her grasp until she’s ready to let you go, ready to let you fall into the world her characters are living in and just when you think you understand….WHAM. You don’t. You really, really don’t. As you creep steadily around each corner, you wonder what curveball she will hit you with next.
I don’t even have enough stars to give this book haha but let me tell you something dear readers, Liane Moriarty has written 4 other books and at some point tonight, I will be buying those bad boys! All of them. Which probably means that yet again, the cleaning will wait and the meals will be….well, salad! I urge you all to put Big Little Lies on your TBR list or regret it forever.
Big Little Lies is a big ol’
Until next time book lovers 😉