Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

aka Big Little Lies

published 2014



The parents at Pirriwee Public [school] had a baffling fondness for fancy-dress. It wasn’t enough that they should have an ordinary trivia night. She knew from the invitation that some bright spark had decided to make it an ‘Audrey and Elvis’ Trivia Night, which meant that the women all had to dress up as Audrey Hepburn and the men had to dress up as Elvis Presley…

Jane wandered into the crowd, past groups of animated Elvises and giggling Audreys, all of them tossing back the pink cocktails...

[Jane thinks about her new friend Madeleine] A glittery girl. All her life Jane had watched girls like that with scientific interest. Maybe a little awe, mayble a little envy. They weren’t necessarily the prettiest, but they decorated themselves so affectionately, like Christmas Trees, with dangling earrings, jangling bangles and delicate pointless scarves. They touched your arm a lot when they spoke. Jane’s best friend at school had been a Glittery Girl. Jane had a weakness for them.





observations: This book specializes in telling and funny observations, such as the identifying of the Glitter girls above: surely we all recognize the type?

I loved The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (here on the blog) so was more than happy to read this one, courtesy of the publishers & NetGalley. The book starts with the reader being told that something terrible happens at the Trivia Night above – someone is dead. Moriarty does a great job of teasing the reader throughout, so you really don’t know who is for the chop (I guessed half of it), or what exactly happens at the event, though there is a very pleasing image of physical fighting amongst the Elvis-es and Audreys. The trouble starts among the kindergarten mothers as their children play together: is there bullying, is there violence, is there class-based resentment? I loved the woman who assumed the much younger mother must be a nanny; the parents of the gifted children, and Madeleine assigning ‘their gift was shouting’ to some young twins; the involved husbands who still aren’t quite sure who everyone else is; and Madeleine’s feeling that there was no need to do King Lear at the local theatre: ‘They had enough Shakespearean drama in their own lives in the school playground and on the soccer field.’

My favourite moment in the whole book is probably where Madeleine is thinking through the various infuriating situations in her life and picks up her son’s light sabre, ‘conveniently left on the floor for someone to trip over’, and starts swinging it around in her crossness and almost breaks a light fitting, and imagines trying to explain that away. It has the feeling of pure truth for some mother somewhere.

In fact the book as well as being funny and a good puzzle has a very serious central core about domestic violence which, amid the laughs, is dealt with in a sensitive manner. So it’s a very easy read, and the observational comedy is perfect, but Moriarty is also a very good writer, with some thought-provoking things to say.

Pictures of Audrey Hepburn come from my favourite source, Perry Photography, and used with her kind permission. You can see more of her pictures at Flickr, or at her website weddingsinitalytuscany. Her wonderful photos have featured on the blog many times before.

17 comments:

  1. This book sounds like one I could read and enjoy. Maybe there's still time for some "summer" reads. The humor helps.

    And, Audrey Hepburn, what a terrific woman and actor. A favorite over here. Her movies are classics and so was she.

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    1. Yes, I would really recommend this one as a summer read - I raced through it. And I think Audrey H appeals in all cultures - the book is funny about the fact that all the school mothers want to be Breakfast at Tiffanys Audrey at the parent event...

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  2. Moira, "...baffling fondness for fancy-dress?" I recall taking part in a fancy dress competition or two in school back in the seventies. I don't know who or, more precisely, what I dressed up as but it wasn't Elvis for sure! For some reason most kids took part in one. It was quite popular at the time.

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    1. Do you know Prashant, I think people either love or hate getting dressed up in costume. I'd really like to know which costume you chose - are you sure you can't remember now....?

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    2. Moira, I remember playing Gandhi once but I didn't win first prize as there were two more dressed up as Gandhi, and one of them was more convincing.

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    3. I hope you've achieved catharsis by sharing that sad story Prashant!

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  3. Moira - I love that description of the Glittery Girl! And it sounds like that sort of wit is all throughout the novel. And what an interesting context for a mystery, too - a fancy dress evening!. That's inspiring... It's not easy to handle a difficult subject such as domestic violence in a way that's both authentic and sensitive. I'm glad this one does so.

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    1. Thanks Margot, and yes, I think this is a good writer, who makes it look deceptively easy to cover the light-hearted aspects of life as well as the darker side.

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  4. I do remember being interested in this author when you covered The Husband's Secret. And her books are not hard to find nor too terribly expensive (which is true of some Australian authors). So I will definitely keep this one on the list.

    I love Audrey Hepburn, just gorgeous, and wonderful images here. I hate the idea of fancy dress, only can remember once when I did that and enjoyed it. Many years ago.

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    1. I think we all love Audrey - she was just gorgeous. I think dressing up as her would make most of us feel inadequate though, compared to the real thing.

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  5. That is strange that the characters wanted to be Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Yes, she was gorgeous and charming and lived in New York City. But was she happy? Was her life good for her? This begs the question of how she earned a living? Not an enviable position to be in for a woman.

    Underneath her glamorous persona, she had a lot of pain. So, there should be a real look at her character, not a superficial one.

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    1. Kathy, I think the women at the school just wanted to look like her and have her clothes....

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  6. Oh, the more superficial answer, not the deep personal analysis of how she lived, felt, was sad about. Just the clothing, dates, restaurants, apartment, probably.

    My sister reminds me a bit of her class and taste in clothes.

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    1. Yes, I think in this case it was definitely meant to be superficial. As you imply, I don't think you could read Breakfast at Tiffany's and think Holly's life was desirable....
      Your sister the opera singer? Very elegant...

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  7. My sister, the social worker, whose main love in life other than her family is music and who sings opera.

    She's tallish and thin and likes Audrey Hepburn's style. My sister jas always reminded me of a Modigliani painting.

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  8. Sounds good, as did the other one, but I'll pass with slight reluctance....too much already.

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    1. It is a good one though - if you're ever stuck somewhere and need a book I can recommend it. Ideal for a journey or beach time.

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