Big Little Lies tells the stories of Madeline, Celeste and Jane, three very different women living in Australia whose shared commonality is that they are all parents to young children who attend the same school, and get caught up in the same drama on the playground. Each of them carries secrets, from each other and their families, and each of them is trying to conceal their secrets as best as they can. Jane is new to town, and her arrival stirs up a controversy at the school which sets off a trail of events leading in someone’s death. That’s the mystery of the book: who died and how. But first you have to go back six months prior, to Jane’s arrival, and follow the story from there.
There are certain parts of this book that really hit me hard. In fact, I would be surprised if anyone read this book and wasn’t emotionally torn by at least one character’s story, history or actions. It is emotional and thought-provoking and at times heart-wrenching. It deals with themes of relationships between husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and children adjusting in school. Each chapter ends on a pseudo-cliff hanger, leaving you wondering who will confront whom, what their reaction will be, and how it will effect the others, and so on. The writing is good, the suspense is palpable, and the characters have a lot of depth to them.
With that being said, it took me a long time to finish this book. In fact, I can’t remember the last time it took me so long to finish a book. The reason for that is not because I was especially busy these past few weeks, or distracted with other things, but because within about fifty pages I had gotten the gist of the story, and then for the next over-one-hundred-pages it was the same thing over and over again. I don’t mean that literally; the same events were not taking place repeatedly. But in those first fifty or so pages I had gotten everything that I needed for the story to kick off and the action to begin, and yet what followed felt like a lot of roundabout details and anecdotes that didn’t really serve a purpose. It wasn’t until well over two hundred and fifty pages into the book that we got to the meat of the story (six months later) and the mysterious death that had been hinted at every three pages leading up to that. I honestly believe you could have taken out seventy-five pages from the beginning third of this book and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.
I am not recommending that you pass on this book. I think the story is good and it is worth the read. There were a couple of “wow” moments but for the most part so much of it was predictable. Overall I did enjoy the read, and am looking forward to watching the miniseries with Reese Witherspoon, but this book felt like a chore to read, more than a treat, and I think that about sums it up.
What About You?
Have you read Big Little Lies, or watched the miniseries yet? Here’s hoping you enjoyed it more than I did 🙂
I am also curious: do you ever stop reading books halfway through and move on to something else? I almost did that with this book, “life’s too short” and all, but I felt compelled to finish it just because. Any other readers put that kind of pressure of themselves, or is it easy for you to drop one book and move onto the next?
I am taking a few days this week to focus on the beginnings of a research proposal, and will be returning in March with all new posts and book reviews. Have a lovely week!