After a busy semester of reading the classics and then forcing myself to avoid fall spoilers related to the HBO show, I FINALLY read Big Little Lies. Maybe read isn’t the right word. I devoured the 480-something page book in about 40 hours, and that included sleeping and attending a Broadway matinee. At one point I was THAT girl who was reading while waiting for the matinee to start…while I was sitting on stage.
Anyway, it lived up to the hype. It was a fascinating read that was very Desperate Housewives meets Dance Moms, but I liked it. I loved the way Moriarty integrated the quotes from people speaking to the journalist into the chapters in relevant and irrelevant ways. My only problem with this is that I could have SWORN they were misleading to whom the person dying at trivia night was going to be, and not in the “oh ins’t this fun I lead you astray” but in the “I deliberately lied to you way” which was frustrating as a reader. It was one little line I have in mind, but it nags me still.
The characters are fascinating, without a doubt. Moriarty gives us three distinct women who really represent three different places in life and class structures. You’ve got Celeste, who’s so wealthy she can donate $25,000 to charity on a whim, Madeline, who is comfortable but not ready to spend a boat load, and Jane, who is not exactly destitute but whom you can feel the tightness of money with. The husbands are equally interesting characters, but you’ll have to read the book to find out more!
Some of my favorites moments in this book, and there were many, came from the children. Abigail, one of the only teenagers we get to see in this world, is ridiculous and SUCH a fourteen year old. Ziggy is quiet and kind and mysterious. Skye is a little waif. Chloe is an absolute girl boss at age five. They’re interactions with each other and their parents are so pure and realistic and always a joy to read.
So, the real mystery hanging over this book is who dies. You know from the get-go that someone dies, but who is it? I feel like this is an increasingly popular trope to use, and it actually reminded me of a book I read not too long ago and also reviewed, The Thousandth Floor. Big Little Lies complicates it a little further by going back in time and working forward to the big night while also featuring snippets from other characters that are trying to give you some insight into what went down a trivia night. There’s also a lot of talk of murder, which makes you think you’re going to see some bloody crime scene and a huge axe-wielding murderer at the end, but it is much more nuanced than that. I won’t spoil anything, but I liked how Moriarty used the character’s death to offer a kind of comeuppance for not only that character’s actions but the actions of other characters in the narrative that have converged at that trivia night.
My biggest qualm is that what leads to the death is a shocking revelation that is never really dealt with properly because the person you know…dies. I wanted a bigger discussion about the issue before the death, but I’ll settle I suppose.
I look forward to now watching the HBO series and seeing how it holds up to the book! I’m really looking forward to the all-star cast and the all-star Swedish god that is Alexander Skarsgard.