A while back I was in a MASSIVE slump- the kind that wouldn’t budge no matter what I read and wouldn’t allow me to read even the teensiest of books. I needed something a little bit different… And then I decided to give this a try. Now who’d have thought the cure for a slump would be a very dense, 450 page book? Not me! Before I tried Big Little Lies, I struggled at 300 pages. But honestly, this book ended up being my saviour! I was so gripped by it that I just couldn’t get enough of it!
On the surface, it was a murder mystery and centred round a primary school. I’ll admit, I didn’t find the prospect of competitive-mummy-drama all that thrilling- and yet, somehow, it was. The story builds from a point of seeming irrelevance, telling us of the incident from the angle of a bystander, withholding vital information. Told like a police report, the reader is clued in slowly, with hints ingeniously woven into the plot. All the way through the book, right upto the final reveal, we never know for certain who the suspects are and even who the victim is! This adds so much to the suspense and keeps you guessing the whole way through.
More than that, the gossipy tone of many of the characters drew me in and had me deeply invested in even the smaller mysteries. With writing that was simultaneously dark and witty, I felt like I was being led by the hand into a mysterious maze of drama and unexpected excited. Thanks to the third person limited narration, I saw inside some of the main player’s heads, with each one being given a distinctive and loud voice.
The book’s cast felt nothing short of *shiny*. I was instantly attracted to the lead trio. I was actually amazed at myself for clicking so quickly with the likes of Madeline- she felt like the sort of person I wouldn’t be close to in real life- and yet here I was drawn to her. She was just so ruthlessly herself. Invigoratingly so- to the point where I could completely understand how she could form friendships with Celeste and Jane- two people who couldn’t have been more different.
Both Celeste and Jane were wonderful characters in their own right and the development of their stories lead to some real depth I hadn’t expected from a story like this. In fact, it was thanks to their perspectives that all my previous expectations were subverted. I appreciated the way it allowed female friendships to blossom; I liked how it dealt with family drama in a way that felt authentic and not overblown. Sure, there were divorced and blended families, which led to some issues, but it wasn’t pure melodrama and there were signs of real love and beautiful bonds between them. Most importantly, however, Big Little Lies explored the subject of trauma in a raw and believable way. It dealt with characters trying to make sense of horrible situations, coming to terms with hardship and finding some resolution. As a result of this, they weren’t just painted as victims and designed to be merely gawped at. Instead, the people pictured at the centre of the chaos felt relatable, evolving through the continuous narrative, and allowing you to grow close to them.
While you become friendlier with a select few characters, you also got a flavour for everyone else involved. What was great was how they felt fleshed out, even though they were mostly described through a biased slant. Funnily enough, I particularly liked viewing characters from Madeline’s point of view. She certainly had strong OPINIONS (in all CAPS) about Bonnie (her ex-husband’s new wife) and Renata (her sworn enemy 😉 ). Viewing them through this lens made them seem more antagonistic and never knowing their true thoughts lent to the air of suspicion that surrounded these characters.
For all my biases, however, I never got close to guessing any of the plot twists. Everything was veiled so well, that it wasn’t until the curtain was pulled back by the author that I had the AHA moment (as it should be 😉 ). With a BIG showdown, all the truths came out. And somehow, masterfully, Moriarty managed to take this explosive ending and gently nudge it to a harmonious conclusion. For all the heretofore mentioned action of the story, it remarkably finished on a sweet note. I don’t know how Moriarty did it, but the whole experience felt crafted so that I would feel the *exact* right emotions and the *exact* right time. For that matter, I couldn’t have enjoyed it more if it had been designed especially for me– it was just that good!
Rating: 5/5 bananas
So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!