Published 31 July 2014 by Penguin
Note: Published as BIG LITTLE LIES in Australia and the United States
She could hear men and women shouting. Angry hollers crashed through the soft humid salty summer night. It was somehow hurtful for Mrs Ponder to hear, as if all that rage was directed at her . . . then she heard the wail of a siren in the distance, at the same time as a woman still inside the building began to scream and scream . . .
When a harmless quiz night ends with an act of shocking violence, the parents of Pirriwee Public School can’t seem to stop their secrets from finally spilling out. Rumours ripple through the small town, as truth and lies blur to muddy the story of what really happened on that fateful night…
* * *
“That doesn’t sound like a School Trivia Night” –“That sounds like a riot”
This sentence is our first introduction to Pirriwee Public School Years Kindergarten – 6. It is ‘Audrey & Elvis’ fancy dress Trivia Night and what should be a harmless quiz night ends in a shocking event. The story then goes back 6 months and gradually works towards the events of that fateful night with conversational/gossipy snippets at the beginning and end of each chapter giving teasers and misinformation of what is to come.
All the main characters we meet in the story have children at Pirriwee School – the main mother being Madeleine; married to Ed and with two children, Fred and elder sister Chloe. Madeleine is a wonderful larger than life character however she has problems of her own. Her ex-husband has moved to town with his new wife and family. He left her when Chloe was a baby and she finds it hard to forgive. Her husband Ed was a favourite character for me. I felt that he was the voice of calm and reason in Madeleine’s manic world.
Young single mother Jane has recently moved to the area with her young son Ziggy. She is not a confident person and doesn’t seem to have any friends however after a chance encounter with Madeleine, Jane finds herself being taken under Madeleine’s wing. Madeleine is a ‘people fixer’, hot headed but loyal and will stick up for her friends wherever necessary.
Celeste is young mother of twins and a great friend of Madeline. Celeste is married to Perry – he is extremely rich and successful but despite her beauty and riches, Celeste is distracted and remote. As the story progresses we discover the reason why.
When Ziggy is accused of hurting another child, Jane finds herself the centre of unwanted attention and gossip. Opinions are divided as to Ziggy’s guilt or innocence and friendships damaged, possibly forever.
There are so many themes included here and it’s not just playground bullying, the parents, particularly the mothers, do their fair share too. Add into the mix domestic abuse, fractured families and long held secrets and you have a story full of tension and intrigue.
This has such a well-constructed plot that I was completely drawn in to the lives of these people. So many times I was tempted to go to the end just to find out what had happened, I was that desperate to know the outcome. The dialogue was sharp, realistic and despite the seriousness of the story, often funny. As the story gets closer to the quiz night, secrets are exposed and little lies turn into big lies with far reaching consequences. This was definitely a 5* read and Ms Moriarty is now on my list of ‘must read’ authors – I look forward to reading whatever is next and I am so pleased to have some of her back catalogue on my bookshelf to read.
My thanks to Real Readers and the publisher for the copy to review.
About the author:
Liane Moriarty is the author of six novels including Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and The Husband’s Secret, which was a million copy bestseller and won the most popular Richard and Judy book club title for the autumn 2013 book club. Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter.