Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty digs into the lives of 3 mothers at Pirriwee Public School: Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. The three mothers become friends in the cliquey social circles of elementary school mothers. Moriarty spins 3 humorous and deep lives of parenting, ex-husbands, bullying, abuse, and lies we tell ourselves to live on. Oh, did I mention there’s a murder?
This book definitely seemed shorter than it actually was. Moriarty keeps me hooked onto every page with humor and suspense, all the while weaving into dark issues of human behavior. She introduces a colorful cast of characters and surprised me with how they are all connected together.
Women are like the Olympic athletes of grudges.
Every day I think, ‘Gosh, you look a bit tired today,’ and it’s just recently occurred to me that it’s not that I’m tired, it’s that this is the way I look now.
Madeline is my favorite character. She is hilarious, straightforward, and passionate. Her biggest issue throughout the novel is her relationship with her teenage daughter, Abigail, who begins to drift away from her to Madeline’s ex-husband. Madeline’s reactions and inside thoughts to her ex and his family are comical. Actually, any time Madeline gets mad lead to an entertaining monologue, making her a highly relatable and liked character. Madeline is the connecting thread between the unexpected friendship that develops between her, Jane, and Celeste. Her habit of standing up for others and tendency to attract others into her world of champagne and gossip make her the ideal leader of an elementary school mommy group.
As her husband points out, Madeline is not a damaged person. She is strong and bright, a glamorous girly representation of upper-class moms with a tomboy attitude.
It infuriates me that he had that power over me. I look in the mirror each day, and I think, ‘I’m not overweight anymore,’ but he’s right, I’m still ugly. Intellectually I know I’m not ugly, I’m perfectly acceptable. But I feel ugly, because one man said it was so, and that made it so. It’s pathetic.
Jane is a young, single mother who became friends with Madeline by a string of luck the day before Kindergarten orientation. Jane is depicted as a plain woman with a freshly scrubbed face but readers soon find out she is practically reeling with insecurities about her appearance due to a traumatic one-night stand. She is the character who gets the ball rolling in this plot. Her son, Ziggy, becomes tangled up in a bullying affair and is the kick-starter to playground drama between the different cliques of mothers. Jane is also the bomb that explodes when Madeline and Celeste get involved in her previous sexual abuse. Her relationship with Celeste is an unfortunate coincidence that ties their fates and children together.
It shouldn’t matter. She knew it shouldn’t matter. But the fact was that some people were so unacceptably, hurtfully beautiful, it made you feel ashamed. Your inferiority was right there on display for the world to see. This was what a woman was meant to look like. Exactly this.
Celeste is described to be a goddess. She is beautiful and lives a luxurious life because her husband is very wealthy. Her family is essentially a perfect postcard during Christmas, a joyful Facebook newsfeed of vacation photos. Sadly, Celeste is the most damaged character in this book.
Celeste suffers from domestic abuse and it gets worst as the story progresses. Celeste is stuck between love and hate for her husband, Perry, who seems to have an on-and-off switch when it comes to violence. The two of them have a toxic relationship and although Celeste is an intelligent and successful woman, she feeds herself lies in order to stay with Perry. Celeste is almost like a tragic princess, trapped in a magnificent home.
One aspect I really liked about Celeste was her ego. Her ego is what stops her from getting help, and that is what makes her a real character. Even when she makes an appointment to see a counselor, she is persistent that she is different from other women who suffer from domestic abuse. She constantly references all the sweet things Perry does for her and her twin boys. Celeste distances herself from other victims, when the reality is that domestic abuse can happen to anybody.
Big Little Lies brings up the evils in the world, many of them coming from little lies that tie into a larger issue. In this case, it blows up to a murder during the school’s trivia night. I highly recommend this book! It is likely to be the funniest murder novel you will ever come across.
They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.