Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Big Little Lies

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .

A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?

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 harbors 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.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.  (-synopsis)

Big Little Lies

It all starts with Trivia Night at the school.  Everything seems to be going well.   All of a sudden there is a scream and someone is dead.

The book goes back 6 months before Trivia Night to kindergarten orientation.  We are introduced to the three main characters.   First there is Madeline.   She is a bubbly woman who is married to Ed, her second husband.  She has 2 daughters and one son.   Her ex-husband has moved back to the area with his new wife and their daughter is going to be in kindergarten with Madeline’s daughter.  Madeline is often the life of the party and people like to be around her.

Celeste is drop dead gorgeous.  She’s also filthy rich.   Her husband works a high powered job that takes him out of the country for weeks at a time.  They have twin boys, Josh and Max, who are also going into kindergarten.  Celeste was a lawyer in her former life but now she is a stay at home mom.  She appears to be a bit flighty and jumpy  but from the outside she appears to have the perfect life.  Celeste is best friends with Madeline.

Jane is new in town.  She’s younger then the other moms and she’s on her own with her son Ziggy.   She meets Madeline before orientation and they become fast friends.   Jane is shy and nervous.   There are things in her past she’d rather forget and people in her past she’d rather forget.  One of the people is Ziggy’s father.

Madeline, Celeste, and Jane form a friendship.  This makes some others jealous.   During the kindergarten orientation things go downhill when a little girl is strangled and she blames Ziggy.   Madeline takes up for her new friend and her son and suddenly there’s a war going on at school before it’s even started.

The next 6 months lead up to the Trivia Night.  We get a glimpse into the real lives of the three woman.  They all have secrets, secrets they don’t want anyone to find out.   Secrets they are ashamed of.   There are other women in the school and they have secrets too.  Together all of the secrets lead up to that fateful night…a night that ends in murder.

Who is murdered?  The book goes through the six months before Trivia Night without telling us.   All of the parents from the school, except for Madeline and her husband, Jane, Celeste and her husband, and Bonnie and Nathan (Madeline’s ex-husband) are questioned by the police at the beginning and end of each chapter.   We see a little snippet of what has led up to this point and what happened the night of the murder.

I thought this book was brilliant.   It was a quick and easy read and I found myself wanting to read more to try and figure out who was murdered.  After every chapter I had a hunch about who it was that ended up dead.   Some people I chose more then others.  Some of my reasons were sound while others were not.  I also tried to figure out who the killer was.   All I’ll say is that the ending was a big surprise for me.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book as well.  I found Madeline to be a typical mother.   She acted like she had it all together but when she was home with her husband her worries came out.  She truly loves her children and wants what is best for them.

Celeste is a quiet beauty.   People envy her looks and her money.  I felt bad for Celeste and her secret.   She seemed to have it all yet from the outside but on the inside she was a mess.   She loved her husband and her twin boys and wants what is best for them.  She puts the unpleasant things out of her mind but she’s never quite calm as we see in her jumpiness throughout the book.

Jane is young and vulnerable.   She is a single mom who has no contact with Ziggy’s dad.   He was a one night stand that ended badly.   She moved to the area to be by the beach and to start over with Ziggy.  She’s generous and kind and does what she can to keep her son happy.   She’s a good mom and a good friend.

This book weaves in and out of the lives of these three women and their families.  We also get a glimpse into the lives of some of the other families that go to school with their children.   The book builds up the anticipation until the climax which is Trivia Night.   There was too much booze.   The food was late.  People were drunk, rowdy, and out of control.  Everything comes to a final bang on the balcony outside which is where someone dies.

I loved this book.  I thought it was well written and I cared about the characters.   I wanted them to be ok in the end.   I didn’t want them to die.  The fact that I read the book in 3 days and couldn’t put it down tells you just how good it really was.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.


  1. I LOVED this book – Liane Moriarty is such a good writer – I love watching the series BIG LITTLE LIES on HBO – it is good and I think Reese Whitherspoon is a great choice to play Madeline and Nicole Kidman perfect for Celeste.

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