Oh my goodness, Liane Moriarty has done it again, another immensely readable book peopled with characters whom you feel like you could very well know. Centered on a small primary school in a fictional and idyllic Sydney beachside suburb, this is the story of three women who become firm friends when their children start kindergarten together.
Jane is a young single mother, devoted to her son but mute on the subject of his father. Celeste is the one who "has it all" - beautiful, wealthy, happily married - but she is also keeping a dark secret from everyone that she knows. And Madeleine, feisty Madeleine, is having issues with her teenage daughter who seems to prefer her father's household to Madeleine's. Woven into their stories are the various other dramas that beset the parents of that school year.
The story takes place over six months and from the outset we know that we are building towards a violent confrontation at a school trivia night in which someone will die. We are teased with this pending event from the word go, but it is not until the final chapters that everything becomes clear.
It took me three days to read the first few chapters of this book but then I finished the rest in one sitting. As you get hooked into these women's lives, it becomes impossible to put the book down. I also loved the way I could recognize so many of the characters from my own children's school: the superior parents of "gifted" children, the bullying lawyers who threaten lawsuits on anyone who crosses them, drunken misbehaviour at school fundraisers, the teachers struggling to cope - not with the children, but with the demands of their pushy and educated parents. There have been a few books recently that have tried to capture the insular world of primary schools ("The Hive" comes to mind), but this one does it extremely effectively.
Despite the fact that I really, really liked this book, there are a couple of things that I didn't think worked. One was the way that we keep being reminded about the trivia night and what will happen. It wasn't necessary. A prologue was all that was needed. It was a device to build tension that wasn't necessary - we had been told it was coming, that was sufficient. My other criticism is that the book is light on suspense, especially vs The Husband's Secret. (Perhaps this is why the trivia night is played up so heavily). It really isn't that difficult to figure out what Jane and Celeste's secrets will be and therefore the thing that keeps you reading is seeing how they will play out rather than wondering what they will be.
Overall, a terrific read that I am missing already. Can't wait for Liane Moriarty's next book!
on 1 August 2014
Another outstanding book from Liane Moriarty The story opens 6 months before Trivia Night at the Kindergarten orientation morning
You are made aware from the beginning that a tragic death occurred at the trivia night but don’t know who it is. Police are investigating it and interviews with the parents are interspersed with the story building up a picture of life in this town.
Perriwee School, is set in an idyllic seaside resort.
The three main characters are Madeline, Celeste and Jane whose lives become intertwined when their young children start kindergarten together.
Moriarity’s descriptive talents leave you feeling you really get to know the main characters well and feel empathy for them all as the story grows.
I loved the way the author captures the bitchiness that occurs in PTA committees.
There are school politics, Bullying, Domestic abuse, problems with an ex-husband and what appears to be his perfect new wife, Chinese whispers, teenage angst, exaggerated stories and absolute lies.
However despite the serious subject matter there are laugh aloud moments that will captivate the reader. Most mothers will know characters like Madeline who is totally hilarious, fighting battles and fiercely protecting her friends.
This book is definitely a page turner. I couldn’t put the book down as I was desperate to know the ending!
Highly recommended, I loved this book. It is also a great holiday read you just won’t be able to put it down
Attractive and bubbly Madeleine lives in the beautiful coastal town of Pirriwee, a suburb of Sydney, with her second husband, Ed, and her three children. Her first husband, Nathan, father to Madeleine's eldest child, is now married to yoga fanatic Bonnie, and they have a daughter who, along with Madeleine's youngest child, will soon be starting kindergarten at the local primary school, where much of the action in the story takes place. Madeleine, who can be rather feisty, finds the serene Bonnie rather irritating, but she has a busy life and a good network of friends, her closest friend being the head-turningly beautiful Celeste, who is married to Perry and is the mother of twin boys. Celeste and hedge fund manager Perry seem to be the perfect couple, but before long we begin to see that Celeste is hiding a secret and that her life is nowhere near as wonderful as it might appear on the surface. Into their lives arrives Jane, a young single mother and her five-year-old son, Ziggy. Jane is struggling to move on from a traumatic incident in her past and when she moves to Pirriwee and makes friends with Madeleine and Celeste, she finally begins to feel that this is somewhere she could settle down. That is until Ziggy is accused of bullying a fellow schoolmate and the enraged mother and her fellow mummy mafia followers begin to make life extremely difficult for Jane and Ziggy. And then a disturbing incident occurs at the school 'Trivia Night' which ends in the death of one of the parents - but who dies and who causes the death? (No spoilers - we learn right at the beginning of the book that someone is killed).
Full of perceptive details of school politics, 'helicopter' parents boasting about their gifted children, malicious gossip at the school gates and pushy PTA members, Liane Moriarty's latest novel is written in a chatty tone and one that made for quite an entertaining read. This is not literary fiction (and not meant to be) and it's not really a murder mystery either - but it is a readable novel about parenthood, female friendship, bullying in its various guises and of the lies we tell ourselves and others. And although this novel tackles some rather unpleasant themes including domestic violence and physical and psychological intimidation, it does have its lighter moments too, and anyone who is a parent or who works in a school will recognise some of the characters who appear in this book and maybe have a few laughs at their expense - and the author's rather over the top descriptions of the alcohol fuelled 'Audrey and Elvis Trivia Night' where parents had to dress up as either Audrey Hepburn or Elvis Presley, were so silly that I had to smile. I will just comment that all of the intricate little details focusing on school and family life rather slowed the pace of the story in places and meant that the novel was not quite as pacy or gripping to read as I was expecting from the advance publicity; however that said, if you are looking for an easy and engaging summertime read, that is not all froth, then this could well fit the bill for you.
on 14 September 2014
I didn't love this book. I didn't hate this book. I just thought it was okay. Having read and enjoyed The Husband's Secret, I snapped this up eagerly. However, this writer has a definite MO. The clichéd suburban housewives, the clichéd outsider and way too tidy of an ending. I wasn't significantly invested in the story - I could barely raise enough interest in "whodunnit" nor was I interested enough to wonder who the victim was. I found the "gidday mate" to be ridiculous pandering to non-Australian readers. I don't know a single North Shore resident who speaks like that. In fact, very few Australians do, outside of stereotypes. If I didn't know better, I would have thought Liane Moriarty was an American trying to encapsulate the quintessential Australian. But Ms Moriarty is Australian so it was positively grating.
The premise of the book was good. The story was engaging enough to make me want to finish but I was not very invested in the characters and there wasn't any one character I loved. I "warmed" most to Celeste and that was only just.
The book didn't capture my imagination enough and the whole murder investigation was treated as though it was slapstick suburban comedy. This wouldn't have been out of place in an episode of Desperate Housewives....oh wait, NOW I know why I felt a nagging feeling of de ja vu throughout.
Will lay off this author going forward.
From the very beginning of this entertaining novel, we are aware that there has been a murder, when the ‘Audrey and Elvis’ trivia night at Pirriwee Public School spirals out of control.... Set in a small, beachside community, the novel revolves around a group of mothers, whose children attend the kindergarten at the school. There is forty year old Madeline Mackenzie, mother of Alice, Fred and five year old Chloe, single mother Jane Chapman and her son Ziggy, the beautiful Celeste, mother of twin boys, whose marriage is not as perfect as it seems, Bonnie, who is married to Madeline’s ex husband and Renata, who attends a support group for the parents of gifted children.
Although this novel is set in Australia, the school, parents, children, situations and playground politics will be all too familiar to any parent – accusations of bullying, cliques of mothers gossiping in the playground, children being excluded from parties or play dates, competitive parents, the ‘class toy’ and volunteering at the school are all covered in this book, which weaves its way through the six months leading up to the implosion of events at the trivia night.
As well as looking at life through events at the school, we also read of the lives of the women; especially the three main characters of Madeline, Jane and Celeste. Although there are very serious issues tackled in the storyline, much of this book is also extremely funny. I have to say that I was completely gripped and loved every page. The characters, the situations and feelings of the women were all authentic and it is sure to appeal to anyone who has found that taking your child to school is not always simply about their education. Highly recommended, often moving and darkly humorous, this would be a fantastic choice for book groups, with much to discuss. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
Just like her previous two novels, Little Lies is set in suburban Australia and centres on a community that is made up of upper middle-class families.
Jane is the newcomer; she's a young, single mother with a young son called Ziggy. Jane is very different to most of the other mothers at the school. She's not obsessed with her appearance, or by money, she doesn't have a husband who earns a huge salary. She's desperate to be accepted though and is delighted to find friendship in two of the most powerful mothers in town. However, things begin to go very wrong for Jane and Ziggy after an incident in the school playground, and suddenly mothers are against mothers.
Little Lies is a very clever story. The reader knows from page one that something terrible happened at the School Trivia Night, we know that someone is dead, but we don't know who it is, or who the murderer is, or why.
Liane Moriarty expertly weaves this story. Hooking the reader from the start with the big whodunnit and then skipping back a few months to gradually build up both the plot and the characters. There is a real credibility to these characters and the development of their relationships are excellently done. The author expertly portrays what appears to be a perfect life on the outside whilst allowing the reader glimpses into the sordid and often violent secrets lying below the surface.
Little Lies is the sort of book that keeps me up way past my bedtime with it's compelling plotline and cleverly careless clues dotted around that hooked me and made me want to read 'just one more chapter'. There were a few gasps out loud along the way too - there is nothing I like better than to find that I'm wrong about what I think has happened, or will happen. To me, the sign of a great book and a very clever author is when I really do get a shock when something huge is revealed.
There are quite a few shocks along the way in Little Lies, there are also many secrets and lots of lies, not all of them are little either.
A very impressive novel, Liane Moriarty is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. Great stuff
on 31 May 2016
When I started this book I wasn't sure I would enjoy it, but it didn't take long for me to get really interested in how things would work out, and I finished the second half of the book in one sitting, meaning I got very little sleep.
The story focuses on the parents, mostly mothers, whose children are starting school together. At the orientation day something terrible happens to one child, and the parents are forced to take sides against each other as the argument rages on about whose child is to blame. As the school year goes on, the dispute between the mothers grows and the bad feeling escalates, and eventually ends in murder at a school event.
I did enjoy the book, and I liked the way we didn't find out what happened or who died until almost the very end of the book. I also liked the fact that the reader learned more about the lives of the mothers involved, and the school dispute became secondary to the stories of single parenthood, the difficulties of sharing your child with a step-parent and step-family, the secrets that people keep within their marriages and about their marriages, and so much more.
It was also nice to read a book of this sort that wasn't about upper-middle class London mothers. When I realised this was set in Australia it felt like a refreshing change, I'd made some assumptions and the fact that the location wasn't where I'd expected or imagined shook them out and allowed me to read with a more open mind.
I will read more by the author, I have a copy of The Husband's Secret somewhere that I will dig out and read now, and I would recommend the book as it dealt with sensitive subjects in a way that was at times empathic, serious, humorous, and kind.
on 28 September 2014
After reading The Husbands Secret I found this book followed the same format, lots of characters, mostly woman who seemed to wrestle with inner angst and a revelation at some point in the book that I didn't see coming.
At times there is too much emotional stuff for my taste and the characters lack depth,I didn't feel a connection to any of them but she does drive the story forward and bring it to an acceptable conclusion.
on 17 August 2014
I totally loved Liane Moriarty's previous novels, but 'Little Lies' exceeded all my expectations. The story evolves around a school in a nice sea-fronted neighbourhood near Sydney where an unspecified tragic event takes place at a parents' fund-raiser. The story is interspersed with police interviews, adding an intriguing teaser quality to the plot, which isn't really needed because the writing is so well crafted that the reader is completely under its thrall anyway.
The story is told from the point if view of three mothers: the single mother Jane, the confident Madeline, and the beautiful Celeste, whose five-year-olds are new to the Pirrewee Public School. Any mother of a school-age child will recognise the terror and delight of those first months when a child starts school told so well in Little Lies, but this novel is about so much more. It's about lies, as the title suggests, but it's also about secrets, friendship, sex, love and marriage.
I envy anyone who has yet to read this novel; I consumed it under a week because I just could not put the book down!
on 12 June 2016
Having read the husband's secret (and recommended it to everyone I know), Big Little Lies was my second of Moriarty's book (and this one is doing the round as well as it's just as good. With a completely different story).
I'm a big thrillers fan so wasn't sure what to expect... this one is a very unusual read: someone gets killed at the beginning but you don't know who the victim is nor the murderer and you spend the whole story trying to work it out... at times wishing so and so IS going to get killed as you really get to have strong feelings (good or bad) towards all the characters !!!
This is a book that gets you to wonder "which one would I be? and what would I do in their shoes?". If you've been/are a mum at the primary school gates, you WILL relate fully to these characters (hopefully not the story!!).