Review: Marla Cantrell
By Liane Moriarty | Penguin Publishing | 492 pages |$16
Start packing for your beach vacation because I found the perfect book for you to take along. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is a brilliant mystery novel, darkly comic, that’s set in a seaside town in Australia where a group of moms connected by their kindergarten-aged kids finds out just how deadly lies can be.
The story begins on the night of a fundraiser at Pirriwee Public School. It’s a costume trivia party where all the men dress as Elvis, and all the women dress as Audrey Hepburn. The women use Breakfast at Tiffany’s as their inspiration, and there are lots of black dresses, long black gloves, and pearl necklaces. The caterer fails to arrive, so the couples drink too much on empty stomachs, their tongues loosened by the alcohol, and mayhem ensues.
The party comes near the end of a tense school year for the Pirriwee moms, who’ve had their share of arguments as the months rolled by. The catalyst for all this trouble is Jane who recently moved to town with her son, Ziggy. Jane is single, in her mid-twenties, and holds the secret of her past as tightly as she can. When Ziggy’s accused of bullying a classmate, Jane defends him, although she harbors fears that something could be amiss with her son.
Madeline steps in, befriending Jane and introducing her to Celeste, whose life seems picture-perfect. Of course, no one’s life is. Celeste is the mom of twins, whose husband travels the world on business, bringing back expensive presents, and dark secrets.
Madeline’s teenage daughter is growing distant and developing a deep relationship with her stepmom. To make matters worse, Madeline’s ex and his second wife have a daughter in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest child.
By the end of the first chapter we’ve learned that someone’s been murdered, we just don’t know who. The novel then backtracks, starting the story several months before that deadly night. We’re taken into the lives of these women, into their homes where nothing is as good as what they’re posting on Facebook. And clue by clue, we try to piece together who’s been killed, and who might have done it.
The story is fast-paced, incredibly funny in places, and shows how complex a woman’s world is, and how hard we try to get everything right. And when we don’t get it right, how hard we try to cover our mistakes.
When the killer and the victim are revealed, every step of this story makes perfect sense. And in the midst of the unfolding mystery, we get to see how deep friendships run.
This book has been picked up by HBO, and will be a seven-episode series. Already signed on are Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgard and Laura Dern.
While you wait for Big Little Lies to make its debut on the small screen, read the book. It may become one of your favorites. It certainly is mine.