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...
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.