Big Little Lies – A Review

Beat About the Book

Book Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Lian Moriarty

This review is long long overdue and yet I’m doing it not because of a professional commitment but because I’d promised myself this book was too good to be buried in my “read’ list and forgotten. I know I’ve raved about it on social media so that almost all my friends have read it and yet I’m going ahead with the review because it’s worth it :-).

I already said in my Teaser Tuesday how Big Little Lies kept me awake at nights. I’ll add now that it lived up to its promise right up to the last chapter.

The Story

This is essentially the the story of three kindergarten moms whose children start school together. They all go to Pirriwee Public School. There’s Madeline, mom of two – a teenage daughter (with her ex-husband) and a kindergartener. There’s the ethereally beautiful Celeste who has a pair of rambunctious twin boys and there’s Jane and her son. There are two more moms who are a crucial part of the story – Renata, the high-flying executive mom and, Bonnie, wife of Madeline’s ex husband.

Did I just confuse you? Well just go over this again because these are the ones you need to watch out for. There are half a score more that had me thoroughly confused for the first few pages of the book. However as I read on they began to take on personality and form alignments and cliques.

That’s the best bit about the book – it unravels slowly, page by page and that is what keeps you hooked.

But I’m digressing. Back to the story.

The book opens with a murder but you don’t get to know who was killed till the very end. So while most thrillers focus on figuring out ‘who did it’ and ‘how it was done’, in this one we’re also wondering who died. A murder investigation thread runs through the book.

But that isn’t the only mystery. On the first day of school Jane’s son, Ziggy, is accused of bullying Renata’s daughter Amabella. While Amabella says it’s him, he steadfastly refuses to accept his crime. His mom, Jane’s believes him instinctively, but she has a secret which prompts her to doubt him.

What I felt/thought

Big Little Lies has the distinction of making me break my resolve of never reading the end of a book before I actually get to it. Twice.

This might make the book seem like a thriller, which it is, but to say that it is just that wouldn’t be fair. It is much more, bravely tackling issues like domestic violence, rape, co-parenting, single parents, stay-at-home moms vs working moms and teenage angst. There are scores of everyday issues that kindergarten moms handle – last minute school projects, birthday parties, playdates, bullying and of course parent politics. I could identify with a lot of it and that’s what made the book enjoyable.

The TV series

While I’m at it, I also have to mention the television series based on the book starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley.

I watched it after I read the book because I simply didn’t want to step out of the Big Little Lies haze.

It’s a great watch with some wonderful moments and inspiring dialogue. My favourite bit is where Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste, takes up a case (she was a practicing lawyer before she had the twins). She scores a win in the negotiations and comes away on a high. And she shouts out, ‘Being a mother is not enough for me.’ I loved that scene. The sense of freedom she feels in verbalising that thought, which perhaps has been dormant  in her head for some time, is so beautiful to watch. Also, the scenes of domestic violence are brutal. They made me snap out of my long time crush on Alexander Skarsgard (which I’d developed after watching The Legend of Tarzan), completely and very rudely, I might add.

It is available on Hotstar in India, in case you want to watch it.

That said, I have to mention that the book is much better. It is much more layered revealing the story bit by bit while never letting the pace flag. Do read it first. You’ll know why I say so once you do.

Last thought: Go for it.

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29 thoughts on “Big Little Lies – A Review

  1. Lata Sunil

    I did it the other way round. I watched the series, got interested and then read the book to know the full story. I wish we have Indian serials which show all these and point out how wrong it is and to seek help. The way Celeste blames herself for the abuse is another eye-opener.

    Finally, I did not know we had the the same crush, Mr. Skarsgard. But, the guy acted too well in this and he creeped me everytime he came in looking like a dishy model. It was a brilliant act.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Yes, exactly. I have to confess I was just as confused as Celeste because he was such a great father and a caring husband otherwise, at least in the initial part of the book. It was only later that I was horrified at how I did not recognised the abuse. See that’s what I loved about the book – it took me through from one emotion to another. Sad about Skarsgard, though.

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  2. Alice Gerard

    I was so excited to see that you were reviewing “Big Little Lies” because my book club read that book just last month. The characters were so interesting. It really did tackle domestic violence in a sensitive and realistic way. Victims of emotional abuse do tend to blame themselves. I really enjoyed the book, as did the rest of the book club. I have not seen the TV series.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      it is just the perfect book for a book club. There are so many amazing characters. The impact of the abuse is even greater in the series. Scarily real. Do try to watch the series. It’s quite close to the book.

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  3. Vidya Sury

    Your review has made me want to read this next. I love the premise of the story and the TV series is a bonus. Got this book when everyone was talking about it and um…got side-tracked by a series I am reading. (Lisa Gardner).

    Now i feel like eating peanuts and drinking chai.

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  4. writershilpa

    Loved the review! Pinned it and tweeted it! And, now I am anxious when I get to READ it! Or, at least watch the series, if the book isn’t available in my bookshop!

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  5. Shalzmojo

    I read her book Husbands Secret and confess to not being a big fan of her writing; so never picked this one up. But I did end up watching the series and simply loved al the episodes. Particularly loved Nicole Kidman for portraying domestic abuse so realistically!

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Oh I want to read Husband’s Secret now. But am trying to restrain myself thanks to the self-imposed no-buying clause!

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  6. Shailaja V

    I love your reviews. Mostly because I love the reasons you outline for the book to be read 🙂

    As for ‘Big Little Lies’, I started watching it on Hotstar and never finished it. I don’t know why since it was pretty fascinating. I think Life took over or perhaps the domestic violence scenes were a bit too intense for me? Not sure.That said, I LOVED the 3 women in the lead roles. Reese and Nicole are such perfect fits!

    But now I am keen to read the book instead and finish that first. I think you may have just made me pick my April purchase on the Kindle 🙂 Will get back after reading it.

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    Reply
    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Thank you Shailaja. Yeah the violence was certainly intense. The visuals affected me way more than the book. I hope you like it.

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  7. Sanch @ Sanch Writes

    This is one of my favourite books and I loved it long before it became a TV series. I found myself staying up late into the night wanting to know the ending. That hadn’t happened for a long time. Did you know she doesn’t plot her books and just wrote the story without knowing who the killer would be? I bow to her! She is a wonderful author and so humble in person. I met her in 2016 and had a massive fangirl moment! 🙂

    Oh and the TV series, while it is good and I loved how Nicole Kidman portrayed Celeste, it’s nowhere near as good as the book. Plus I hated they made it American when it’s such an Australian book in terms of place.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      That’s amazing. As in she started the book with a murder without knowing who was murdered? Amazing. Yeah, in my mind I was still in Australia. But the locales they picked were gorgeous, weren’t they? Those sea-side homes were to die for.

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  8. My Era

    This book is on my TBR and your fabulous review has made me want to pick it up next. I’ve been intending to watch the TV series, but only after I’ve read the book.

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  9. Vinitha

    I keep hearing great reviews about this book, so I have a kept a hold on Big Little Lies at my library. I haven’t watched the series yet. Waiting to finish the read first to start watching. Loves your review, Tulika.

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  10. shanayatales

    I have heard so many great things about this book, but your recommendation definitely stands out, so onto the TBR it goes. 😀

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      1. shanayatales

        I know, right? But this year, I am making decent progress (read 14 books already – caught up on 10 pending review requests) , so I am hopeful.

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  11. aymenashraf

    Hi. I just posted a review about this book on my blog and I was going through my reader to see what others thought about it and came across your review. I agree 110%. Loved to read the review. You are welcome to my blog to share your thoughts about any of the other books you have read on it. Ill love to hear from you 🙂

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