Book Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
With all the great reviews of this book, I thought I’d be reading a murder mystery with a witty dark critique of life in the suburbs.
I received petty soccer mom drama about classroom stuffed animals going missing, petitions being passed around to ban an alleged bully from kindergarten, and gossip. Lots of gossip.
And that’s how this book read. Like a trashy gossip rag.
The main characters were shallow, self-centered, self-involved, mostly middle-aged women raising children. I never watched Desperate Housewives, but I think this book would probably be the Australian counterpart to whatever season the screenwriters began churning out the same predictable and mundane plot lines that I heard my friends dreading.
The children weren’t portrayed with any substance either. There was the smart little girl who was being bullied. There was a set of twin boys. One was good and the other was evil. And there was the underdog who was being blamed for bullying the smart little girl, but any intelligent reader knows it’s not him.
Oh, and there was a French nanny. Guess how she stacked up stereotypically?
And there was a murder. So I guess that qualified the book as a mystery. Moriarty teased us with details about when and where the murder took place, but waited until the end to reveal the who, how, and why. By the time I was reading about the school’s fund raising event, I had already connected several dots about the true relationships between a few characters. There were too many convenient coincidences that Moriarty repeated…repeatedly. Yes, dear author. I saw what you did there. Got it.
That would be one of the problems with writing flimsy gossip; it’s easy to see through.
It’s also hard to craft satire from this trivial treatment of the privileged mommies and their brood. I was completely confused by Moriarty’s decision to include both themes of bullying and domestic abuse in her story. Neither issue seemed appropriate in a book that I thought would mostly focus on a murder mystery. Perhaps I could see how bullying might work since she created parents acting much worse than their children. But to include domestic abuse in a novel that was complete fluff seemed borderline irresponsible to me.
If I didn’t purchase the audiobook, I probably would not have finished this book. Caroline Lee did a lovely job narrating drivel. So much so that her reading was what garnered the second star in my review. Her nuanced performance made it easy for me to hit play once every week or two and pick up the story.
Her voices for the various women had subtle differences that helped me keep track of who was who. Often I found myself hearing a whine that indicated to me “Oh right, this is the abused, but super wealthy and stunningly beautiful mom” or “This must be that idiot woman who thinks reality TV and fashion are actually important conversational topics.”
On a side note, I did check to see what else Caroline Lee has narrated. She’s read all of Kate Morton’s books, which I find encouraging. I’d like to read The Lake House, so maybe the audiobook is the way to go.
Will I read anything by Liane Moriarty again? Doubtful. What a waste of an Audible credit.