Kindle, 462 pages
Published: July 29, 2001 by Putnam
Recommended By: Mario Brown
Things get out of hand at a school fundraiser. Drama has been brewing among this group of parents for months. They’ve had to much to drink. The situation spirals out of control, and someone ends up dead. This is where this story begins and ends. And in between, we see the events leading up to this debacle.
This isn’t a “whodunnit” — we don’t follow a trail of clues to find out who committed a murder. We’re given a hint as to what happened, but we don’t know who was killed, by whom, or why. Throughout the story, the author strews snippets of interviews with a reporter, after the fact, and other clues about secrets to be revealed along the way. And we are immersed in a highly character-driven story focused on three women, all mothers of kindergartners.
Jane is a young single mom, struggling to find her place in a new community. She adores her beautiful five-year-old son, Ziggy, but he tends to be anxious and secretive, and Jane privately has reasons for worrying that he may be deeply troubled. We meet Madeline on her fortieth birthday. She is funny, brazen, and tenacious about holding a grudge, and she enjoys confrontation and drama a bit too much. Their beautiful, wealthy friend Celeste is more circumspect, and she often seems detached from her surroundings. Each of these women is facing a crisis, and their stories will converge in unexpected ways.
This novel looks deceptively like light, fluffy “chick lit,” but the engaging story, clever plotting, and deft pacing pack a punch. Big Little Lies delves into serious issues, in an honest way, without being dark. The writing is smart, witty, and gently satirical, with sharp insights into marriage and families. The main characters are well developed. The novel is also cleverly crafted and thoroughly enjoyable, with intriguing, plausible twists that are firmly rooted in the psychological dynamics of the book. Above all it tells a funny, compelling story about motherhood and friendship.
Comment from March, 2015 (Mario Brown): Yes! Soooo glad you read this one. I labored through the beginning as well, chiefly because the room I was reading in was full of obnoxious teenagers, but also because it felt very disjointed. However, once it got going, I devoured it. And I was absolutely FLOORED by the reveal and what initially happened afterward. Great review!! Thrilled/relieved you enjoyed it.