Big Little Lies

Written by Lian Moriarty

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/


Big Little Lies
Penguin
RRP: £7.99
Released: May 7th, 2105
Pbk

The lives of three women intersect when their children start school in the same class, and the first time they all meet a chain of events is triggered that will change all of their lives forever.

Single mum Jane is 24, her son a product of a one-night stand, the circumstances of which still traumatise her. She uproots her son every six months pursuing the idealistic childhood she feels he deserves, but which always seems out of reach. She idolises Celeste and Madeleine, seeing them as perfect mums with perfect lives, but they both harbour secrets of their own. Celeste is the mother of rambunctious twin boys, with a charming, successful and wealthy husband that allows her to lead an apparently privileged live. But Celeste is a battered wife, afraid to leave her husband. Madeleine is on her second marriage, and she is not dealing well with the fact that her daughter Chloe is starting school with the child of her ex-husband and his new wife. She has trouble accepting her ex-husband’s new role in life as involved father, when he abandoned her and her first child, at a few weeks old, saying he could not cope with fatherhood. Even more galling to Madeleine is the fact that her oldest daughter Abigail, now a teenager, worships her father and decides she’d rather live with him than her mother.

The story unfolds from the point of view of each of these three women, each of whom admires and envies the other two. But the key message in this book is that we should not envy the lives of others because we know nothing about their journey.

The book begins by dropping a breadcrumb that the primary school’s fund-raising trivia night ends in drama, and then backtracks six months, gradually describing the events that lead up to the trivia night, alternating between the points of view of Jane, Celeste and Madeleine. In between there are extracts from various parents and teachers being interviewed by the police following the events of the trivia night. Through these snippets we learn that someone was murdered, but we know the identity of neither victim nor killer, and these extracts drop further breadcrumbs, leaving a tantalising trail that eventually leads us to the climax of the book, and the dramatic reveal of what exactly happened on the trivia night. It’s a clever format, and one that has the reader hooked early on, eagerly turning the page in search of the next breadcrumb.

I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book when I started reading it. It is rather full of extremely annoying characters. Helicopter parents. Self-absorbed mothers who palm their children off to French nannies so they can spend all their time in the beauty parlour, and gossiping about events that become so overblown and out of proportion it becomes difficult to extract the truth from the fiction. But Jane, Madeleine and Celeste grew on me, and as I got into the book I felt quite sorry for each woman and the issues she was secretly struggling with.

I was happy to be proven wrong on this one. It’s an engrossing book, and an enjoyable read, with characters you will be fervently hoping find their happy ending.

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