Sunday, October 29, 2017

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I read this book for book club. Coincidentally, the only other book I've read by this author, THE HYPNOTIST'S LOVE STORY, was for another book club. Book clubs seem to love this woman - for better or for worse. I can't remember much about THE HYPNOTIST, except I spent most of the book wanting to punch the heroine (a fact I pragmatically shared at that book club meeting). When I picked up BIG LITTLE LIES, I felt a distinct lack of enthusiasm because one look at the summary suggested that the desire to punch more ladies in the uterus might be looming on the horizon.

Now that I've read BIG LITTLE LIES, I'm torn. On the one hand, all the characters in here are awful at one point or another (usually another). Meredith is a well meaning busybody who lives for the drama. Renata, you just know has one of those "Can I speak to the manager?" haircuts. Jane is so helpless and irritating. Celeste is a victim trapped in a delusional spiral due to constant psychological abuse. And Abigail is basically the incarnate of teenage girl from hell, only with misplaced activist ambitions.

And don't even get me started on Perry.

On the other hand, this was a well written drama that really does a great job illustrating the every day problems of women. Men like to mock women for being "school moms" and laugh about how easy it is to do domestic drudgery, but Moriarty highlights the difficulties of the mom life - the petty squabbles and rivalries between other moms, fighting your children's battles (whether they want you to or not), and navigating the oft rocky landscape of married life. Being a mom and a wife is hard, and Moriarty shows that to great effect in this book. Even though I found myself gritting my teeth during the narratives of certain characters, I always understood where they were coming from.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Like WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE, it was saved from being too precious by solid writing and complex characters. The only thing I didn't like was what I called "the peanut gallery": foreshadowing quotes from other moms in this book who weren't important enough to have their own POVs. It felt way too cheesy, and was so frequent that I began to get increasingly more annoyed every time I saw it.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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