Book Review, Books

Big Little Lies – Book Review

I became a fan of Liane Moriarty when I read My Husband’s Secret (read my review here). She has a gift of writing complex stories with multitude of characters and effortlessly merging all small stories in the end that makes you wonder how could you not see it coming. Her books overwhelm me in the beginning – there are too many characters, too many details about them and a lot going on. I found myself struggle with it in The Husbands Secret but later realized its okay, it’ll all fall in place as I read further. Big Little Lies overwhelmed me all the same, especially with the story going in flashback and people’s comments going in the present after the ‘incident’. It took me a while to even know what the ‘incident’ was.

With her impeccable way of story telling and her complex but well carved characters Liane Moriarty has created a fantastic suspense thriller. She keeps you guessing right from the beginning – what’s the incident everyone is referring to, who was it, was it just one or were there more, who did it and how. Within a few pages she takes the reader from the innocent, almost boring musings of Mrs Ponder to a roller coaster ride through the lives of parents of Pirriwee Public School. Within a few chapters the unsuspecting group of parents become individuals with compelling personalities. And the best part is that each passing chapter unfolds a new motive making you uncertain of who could be the victim(s).

Like her previous books, Big Little Lies is a women dominated plot. It’s the story of women who are competitive, women who are insecure about losing their teenage daughter to the ex-husband, single mothers who are struggling to find a footing in a new place, women who want to protect their children, women who are dealing with an emotional trauma, women who are going through domestic abuse but justify it one or the other, women who bitch about one another and women who support each other, women who are willing to sell their virginity for women they would never meet, women who are willing to lie under oath for women they hate, women who are willing to kill for women they are not even friends with!! Oh calamity!!! 

The book moves at a slick pace and there is a big build up to the grand finale – the school trivia night. The book consumed me with its intricate plot and crazy anticipation of what happened at the fateful night. I couldn’t put it down, even when I did the book stayed on my mind. I found myself holding my breath at some places. When I finished reading Big little Lies it felt as if I just got off an emotional roller coaster. 

Liane Moriarty has again touched upon 2 very sensitive topics in the book – bullying and domestic abuse. (She did it earlier with infertility in What Alice Forgot). It’s commendable how she could weave such serious  subjects in the story and yet keep it fun.

Like I mentioned in my earlier review, Liane Moriarty has original stories but her characters resemble each other more than they should. This was the reason I gave a long gap between What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies. I still feel the overlap between her characters in the two books but having read the previous book some time ago I don’t remember the details too well to really draw parallels. 

The book scores full marks on entertainment. It’s an intense enthralling read and I enjoyed every minute reading it. One of the best murder mysteries I have read lately! 

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Book Review, Books

What Alice Forgot – Book Review 


After thoroughly enjoying The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, I wanted more. I got hold of What Alice Forgot which is a story of a girl with short term memory loss. I had read a book on the same theme by Sophie Kinsella couple of years ago and hadn’t liked it at all. Though I have always enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s writing, ‘Remember Me?’ is her worst work in my opinion. Having already read a similar concept I had a fair idea of what to expect, but Liane Moriarty bowled me over again.

The story begins predictably – Alice had a great fall and loses 10 years of her memory. She remembers being pregnant with her first child, crazily in love with her husband, being socially awkward and very close to her sister. However in the decade that she forgets lot of these things have changed. What Alice Forgot is a story of her constant struggle to come to terms with the life of her 39 year old self with the innocence she had when she was 29. 

Liane Moriarty writes books that are a notch deeper than your regular chick lit. In this novel also she brings up serious issues such as infertility, death and divorce without making the book heavy. When Alice is fumbling to get control over her brand new life you tend to reflect on the choices you have made in the last decade yourself.  It made me sit back and think where I was 10 years ago, what kind of person I was, what were my dreams, what were my relationships like. I reflected on how I have changed in the past decade, things that have not turned out the way I was planning for them 10 years ago, things that turned out way better, things I would do differently now if I was my 23 year old self again, and things I like or dislike about the older me.

This book makes you realize that life is a rainbow of all kinds of memories. The good, the bad, the highs and lows all make us the person we are today. Sometimes all we need is to pull ourselves out and look at a situation from a distance to be able to see more clearly. Often we get so entangled in the minuscule details that we lose track of the larger picture. Who called first, who didn’t call back, who didn’t turn up for a party or arrived late, who didn’t give the ‘right’ reaction to a news, who was not supportive enough….. The list is endless. What’s funny and sad at the same time is that most of these things don’t even matter a few days later. You forget what had really happened and only remember the major fight you had over it. Lot of times relationships turn sour and looking back you can’t even identify one justifiable thing that created the rift. Sometimes you wish if only you could start over… 

Unfortunately like Alice we don’t get that chance, but the book does make you want to be a better person. Like Liane Moriarty earlier book The Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot also gives you food for thought and stays with you long after you have finished reading.

I have mentioned in my earlier review that Liane Moriarty seems to be an expert in human psychology. In this book also she has successfully captured the freakingly honest thought process of Elizabeth and the candid observations of Frannie. I also liked how the author discloses details one at a time – like slowly peeling the layers away, instead of getting the characters straight and then start story telling. It is very clever way of writing and makes the book more interesting. 

I associate lots of my memories with smells and could completely relate to Alice getting flash backs when she smells something familiar. The way her memory comes back in snippets is fascinating yet believable.

There are some stark similarities to The Husband’s Secret. Alice seems to be very similar to Cecelia of THS, Frannie seems to be like Rachel and Elizabeth seems to be like Tess. Though this book has a happy end, you do feel sorry for one character the way you do in THS. Maybe that’s the disadvantage of reading books by the same author back to back.

Overall a great read. Very entertaining and compelling. Highly recommended!! (4/5)

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-A

PS: A movie is being made on the book. I would want to watch even though I know I’ll say “the book was better” 😛

Book Review, Books

The Husband’s Secret – Book Review 

  

The name piqued my interest when a friend mentioned this book for the first time. When she said it haunted her for a while I knew I had to read it too.

If you like books that have intertwining stories, deep characters, a buttery smooth flow of words and a plot so interesting that you can’t

 put the book down, it is THE book for you.

I loved the complexity of characters. You know how we think we are a certain kind of person but behave completely different way when life tests us? The Husband’s Secret has a few of those instances, and their narration along with each character’s thought process is fascinating.

Liane Moriarty seems to me an expert in human psychology. Places where she’s putting a person’s thoughts in words are the best bits of the novel – the monologue that goes on in Rachel’s mind as she sits in the bath after Tupperware party, the thoughts Cecelia is thinking soon after she finished reading the letter, the array of emotions that cross Tess’s mind as she’s talking with Will towards the end are beautifully captured.

The intense indirect conversation Cecelia and Virginia share about the secret is another part that I liked.

Its not a happy book, but its not depressing either. Its an enjoyable read and ends with the message of what goes around comes around. Its a tale of a crime committed in passion, a marriage with all trust lost, a loss one can’t forget, a huge misunderstanding and a shattered hope. The epilogue was my most favorite part of the book where the author paints a picture with parallel possibilities. Its pretty intense and will make you wonder about the innumerable choices you have made to create the life you have today and maybe fantasize a little about the parallel possibilities yourself. It sort of reminded me of One by Richard Bach. 

A story line like this which has a hideous secret in the very core can’t conclude with hearts and flowers. I actually appreciate that the author has kept the plot realistic and has stayed away from creating a sugary fallacy. The book started as a regular story with myriad emotions but with a happy feel overall. Gradually it became complex and when the secret was disclosed I wondered how could something so monstrous be corrected without hurting anyone. It couldn’t. The message is subtle but rings clear – no matter how nice a person you are, you have to pay the price of causing pain to another human, in one form or the other. It is sort of frightening to see how one thing leads to another and snowballs into a giant wave which engulfs everyone when it bursts. It is also creepy the way one action triggers another and a chain reaction ensues, the end result not at all related but surely caused by the first step of the series… A process that sometimes spans decades without diluting the impact. Made me wonder how my casual actions may be starting chain reactions of their own.

  

Overall an enthralling read, if only it had a happy ending! I would rate 4/5

If you enjoyed this review and love reading books please join me on The Book Club .

-A