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Relationship story told in dialogue

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May 17, 2018

Lee Stephenson reviews Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, made famous by the HBO series of the same name.

Big Little Lies

— Liane Moriarty

This story has very little to do with the Hollywood movie version, the latter being transposed to California and the former being written and set in Australia.

One wonders if American movie-makers find it difficult to believe that family conflict and personality clashes could not occur outside of the United States. Would it have been too hard, too expensive perhaps, to set the story in its true home?

Enough said about Hollywood.

The story revolves around a group of women and their husbands who have five-year-olds starting school together. Right from the start there is trouble with bullying among the children, and insecurities and conflicts among the parents.

The author gives us varying scenarios, personalities and partnerships, all in vehement competition with one another.

At several stages this reader decided the behaviour of the parents was frequently more juvenile than that of the children; the only difference being the children seemed able to resolve their differences a lot more easily than the adults do.

The book is written in short chapters which for the most part are in dialogue form. It makes for quick reading, and there are constant footnotes from various characters which make it clear that there is going to be a murder; or at least an accidental death. This is a clever ploy for raising the level of anticipation in the reader, though it is not until very late that we find out who dies.

The dialogue format sets the scene and cements the whole thing together.

It takes a lot of explanation to describe the histories and the relationships between the characters and to set up the final disastrous episode.

If this reader has a small criticism, it is that at 458 pages, the book is too long.

It is, however, an enjoyable read.

— Lee Stephenson

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