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Those Little Lies
on 31 July 2014
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.