I watched the HBO limited series before reading the book. And I noticed that there were somethings that the book did better and things that the show did better. The show was amazing and quickly became one of my favorite shows. That being said, I don’t want to ramble on about the show because this is the book review.
Like the show, the book was amazing and is definitely one of my favorite things this year. It was just so brilliant and such a moving experience. There’s strong female friendship, motherhood, a murder mystery, and humor. And all of these subjects are woven together to produce a great book. Trigger warning: this book does deal with heavy issues such as rape, eating disorders, and domestic abuse.
I wasn’t shocked by the big reveals, because the show stayed 80% true to the book and kept the important things the same. However, I was still impacted while I read because this is an outstanding book. It draws out emotions and manages to pull at your heartstrings. I felt joy. I laughed. And I also felt anger because of how cruel people can be.
It is kind of hard to describe but the book is told in past and present time. The two periods merge at the end of the book. The past includes the time leading up to the murder, which happened at trivia night. The present time are from testimonials for witnesses who were at trivia night when the murder took place. And I must say the testimonials are hilarious. They are kind of unreliable witnesses because they are gossip and try to spin things certain way. But they were definitely one of my favorite things about the book.
The book mainly focuses on Madeline, Jane, and Celeste. They all have children entering kindergarten. Jane is the new young mom to town. She’s a single mom and sort of a mystery. She’s still haunted by a tragic event from her past and does have a motive for moving to the town. An unfortunate event at orientation day, makes her and her son, Ziggy, the main focus for unfair and rude gossip.
Madeline is very outspoken and eventually takes Jane under her wing. Madeline had the best one liners; she is so hilarious. One interesting thing about Madeline is her hatred of her ex-husband and his new younger wife, Bonnie. Madeline is also dealing with her oldest daughter, Abby, who she feels is choosing her dad over her.
Celeste and her husband, Perry, are one of the wealthiest couples in the town. Everyone believes they have the perfect life. But their life isn’t perfect. Celeste is dealing with difficult things at home. She doesn’t talk about it to her friends. She seems a little lost. And as the strong progresses, we see her make tough decisions and begin to realize what is actually happening in her life.
The readers get to see their intersecting lives, and also the amazing friendship that they share. And their friendship was not something that could be ruined over petty or unnecessary drama. These woman genuinely were friends and would do anything for each other.
We get to see them rally together and protect one another. It was nice to see positive and strong female friendships portrayed. It was also great to see characters who were not the best of friends still manage to put their past behind them and come together to help one another.
There are quite a few characters in this book. All of the characters were three dimensional. I also noticed that this book depicted different types of women and also different types of motherhood. I thought that was amazing, because it’s what the real world looks like.
Bonnie’s background was not mentioned in the show; however, I do wish that it had been. This is probably one of the biggest things that I believe the book did better.
I have never disliked a fictional character as much as I have in this book. And believe me when I say that the dislike is earned. The individual was extremely awful, and it is sad that there are people in this world like that.
Big Little Lies is something that I do plan to read again. It’s such an amazing book with real characters who shine but very much are flawed. It has a very satisfying ending, fit with twist and turns and female friendships.