Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Published: 29th July 2014 (print)/1st August 2014 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Berkley /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 460/1 discs
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbours secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

As I’ve been making way back through Moriarty’s back catalogue I had been leaving this one until later. After being disappointed with a few of her earlier ones I had been told her later books were better. I have to admit this was a great book. I listened to it on audiobook and it really suited the format. Caroline Lee does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life and with Moriarty’s style of jumping back and forth in time and scenes it is a style suited to this kind of story.

Lee is a great narrator; she makes each of the key women unique in their voices and every character’s personality shine through with her voices and inflections. She definitely captured the School Mum hierarchy and pushy parents, which added to the experience.

As per Moriarty style, we begin with a mystery. Something has happened and we’re not going to be told what until 3/4 of the way through. I have grown to like this style of hers, especially when she does it well and succinctly. This, like Truly Madly Guilty, benefited from this because there are a host of characters to introduce and explore. In that case this drawn out mystery is beneficial and never feels like it drags on.

There are numerous clues and possibilities as to what it is that has happened and who it is that had been affected. But it’s not just this Event that is mysterious; Moriarty weaves numerous seemingly innocent events together to create a plot filled with secrets, gossip, rumours, and schoolyard politics that snowball into a dramatic and destructive force. Numerous clues are given and enough details are provided about the three main women that you can easily convince yourself that The Event is about each of them, keeping you on your toes as to who will be affected.

I loved the mixture of the interviews and the different perspectives and I loved the variety of school mums and their relationships. There are so many complicated things happening that you really are not sure which way the story could go.

When the reveal comes it is divine, and then it morphs into something else entirely. Moriarty has finally mastered a good reveal that actually means something and changes everything. My suspicions were confirmed, but I was also pleasantly surprised. Something I haven’t really had with a Moriarty book before.

You can purchase Big Little Lies via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Wordery

Book Depository | KoboFishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | QBD

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Published: 26th July 2016 (print)/20th July 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Flatiron Books /Bolinda Audio
Pages: 415/15 discs
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

First of all, let’s all rejoice, I have read a Moriarty book I didn’t dislike! It was interesting, it had characters I liked and who were interesting, and there was a good plot that had purpose and flow.

After a few unenjoyable books by Moriarty I was worried going into this but it surprised me. The classic “I’m not going to tell you what I’ve been hinting at for most of the book until almost the end” Moriarty approach is there which surprisingly worked very well in this story. In the past, it’s been a frustratingly drawn out longer than need be experience, but this time it works ideally. With the numerous perspectives to cover it spreads the novel out and covers multiple angles and adds depth to the story and more complexities.

With so many characters Moriarty circles around the unspoken event, also known as “the worst day” and just as you get closer she spirals out again. It seamless and I loved that we inch our way closer and closer and then are flung straight back out again into someone else’s point of view and backwards or forwards through time.

The characters are full and brought their lives to the page, Moriarty showing us exactly who they are with a few words or actions that encapsulates them perfectly and Lee adds another level with her excellent voices and narrating ability. Each character felt real to some degree and had their own depth and unique quality. Moriarty made even the briefest characters have something that made them stand out. I enjoyed Oliver’s kind but abrupt nature, and while I disliked Erika’s character, I liked that she was different and could annoy me, which is a weird experience. On the other hand, I can’t tell if I feel sorry for Harry or not. In a way I think we are meant to feel sorry for him, but at the same time not. I liked that Moriarty made me have such conflicting feelings about so many of her characters.

When the surprise does come it’s after much speculation on the reader’s part and Moriarty doesn’t disappoint. The slow reveal is wonderful and linked to so many characters that it adds more questions and sparks a whole other set of problems and dramas.

The ending I think was perfect, it was the best ending for the characters and I am glad Moriarty didn’t try to make it any other way which she easily could have. There are surprises and wonderful moments, it’s not without its problems but it was an enjoyable book that was complicated and messy and revealed how one single event can affect everyone differently and can change everything.

You can purchase Truly Madly Guilty via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Wordery

Book Depository | Kobo| Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | QBD

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The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Published: 1st October 2011 (print)/13th December 2011 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Pan Macmillan Australia/BolindaAudio
Pages: 480/1 disc – 16hrs (MP3)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk. 

Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.

I have been told that the early works of Moriarty aren’t as good as her later stuff, which is good and bad because I started with her earlier works and thought what I’ve read so far had been mediocre. Which was a huge shame since I have been looking forward to reading her stuff for years. So it’s a matter of working through the back catalogue until they start getting better I suppose. That sounds quite terrible, and I didn’t dislike this one, it was ok. The premise of The Hypnotist’s Love Story sounded interesting, and it began promisingly enough, but I found it was a bit lacklustre soon after.

Because I listened to the MP3 I had no real way of knowing how much longer was left in the book. I found myself keep waiting for it to be over and it just never came. Even when I thought there had been a conclusion there was still more story to come. The book itself is 480 pages I discovered, which is why it felt like it went forever, it definitely was a story that could have been a lot shorter.

I found I grew tired of the characters, I felt Moriarty drew them out far too long, it could have been more impactful if the story hadn’t’ve dragged on. I couldn’t sympathise with any of the characters, not even Patrick which I’m sure I was supposed to. He was a bit dull and uninteresting and Ellen was no better, I felt that she was the kind of person who liked to poke the sleeping bear. She kept pushing and pushing, aggravating Patrick (and me) as she pushed for information to stave off her curiosities about the stalker.

Moriarty’s stories seem to work around the slow reveal, the teases and taunts and clues that something has happened but she’s not going to tell you what just yet. This is much the same, we know there is a stalker, the mystery is figuring out who it is. There are a few candidates and Moriarty makes sure a few possible people act as red herrings. Even with this tease of the stalker and the unknown about what could happen, I couldn’t engage with the story and the ending fizzles out quite remarkably. It was a strange conclusion to an ok story.

aww2017-badgeYou can purchase The Hypnotist’s Love Story via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Fishpond

QBD | Book Depository | BookWorld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Published: May 2010Goodreads badge
Publisher:
PanMacmillan Australia
Pages: 476
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

I could not get excited by this book. I couldn’t understand why Alice couldn’t just simply state things outright and ask people what she wanted to know. I get she may have been in shock and what have you, and her personality wasn’t the tough assertive one she develops, but she lets people just talk at her, or ignore her. It annoyed me so much she didn’t just shout out ‘what part of I remember nothing do you not understand?’ Even when she doesn’t tell anyone she never asks questions, just wonders what it all means, what she has to do. Even when she does outright ask who someone is or what is happening, people don’t just answer her. I can’t understand, why wouldn’t you tell someone the full details? It would make them look like less of a fool and not annoy me as much I assure you.

The whole premise is Alice is missing ten years of her life, and in that time she loses friends, makes new ones, and becomes a person with a new personality. It’s not good just telling her that she’ll understand when she gets her memory back, or that she won’t feel as confused, it doesn’t help her in the moment. Yes Moriarty is trying to create suspense, and make us realise that there is more than just memory loss at stake, but truly. It was so frustrating having to put up with so many non-answers and people somehow unable to comprehend what no memory means. Even Alice’s mother just prattles on at her, not even having a proper conversation. Ugh. Of course when we do find out even a tiny something of what happened it comes in a weird one scene rush and answers are given and it feels like a trick having this information just given to us after we’ve suffered so far unawares.

Anyway. I could complain about this book for ages and not say anything constructive. You do start to get a small hint that something isn’t as it seems around halfway through. You’ve accepted Alice is Alice, and all these characters are just being their own weird selves so you focus on the story. Moriarty draws out the suspense in that way, you are meant to hang on as Alice almost gets answers and then loses them, almost gets her memory back but fails.

The story takes place over a week or so since Alice’s accident but a lot happens in that time. You see how Alice’s family have changed and evolved, you see how personalities have shifted, friends aren’t as close anymore. I really liked Alice’s sister Elizabeth; her chapters are fun and interesting, filled with emotion and intrigue. I also didn’t mind Franny’s parts either; it was a nice change having her blog provide bits of info and a commentary on what’s going on. Having that alongside Elizabeth’s journal you get relief from Alice doing all her stuff. Those two characters make the novel worth reading in my opinion, them and perhaps Alice’s children, they were quite fun.

You can purchase What Alice Forgot via the following

QBD | Book Depository | Amazon

Wordery | Dymocks

Fishpond | Booktopia