Liane Moriarty is a favorite around here, and I remember reading, but not reviewing (I think that was the year I dropped the ball), The Husband's Secret and really enjoying it. Boss read it just before me, so I had someone to chat with about it. And while I haven't gotten around to Big Little Lies yet, everyone seems to love it. So it made sense to pick up anything by Moriarty in hardback for $1 at a yard sale.
And it was...okay.
At the center of the book is an event that happened at a Sunday afternoon barbecue and each principal player's feelings of guilt and responsibility towards that event, as well as their feelings of guilt and responsibility towards the people in their lives. Sam and Clementine, a young married couple with two adorable little girls, are the quintessential harried parents. Sam was recently promoted, yet feels like he's wasting his time and talent in the corporate world. Clementine, a classical musician, suffers from audition anxiety and, truth be told, a little bit of mommy regret. Their lives are messy, their house messier, and they can never seem to find a complete pair of shoes. Erika, Clementine's best friend, and her husband are quite the opposite: they are child-free (although apparently not by choice), mess free, and both struggle with the shadows of their childhood. Erika's mom is clearly mentally ill, and her hoarding tendencies are just the tip of the iceberg. Tiffany and Vid, Erika's next door neighbors, are introduced to the story by hosting a spontaneous afternoon barbecue, and it is at their house where the "incident" takes place.
Moriarty has cornered the market on the flash forward / flash backward style where a mystery is introduced at the beginning and the reader doesn't find out what the mystery is, let alone the resolution, until three quarters of the way through. And while this worked for The Husband's Secret, I'm not so sure it worked here. Additionally - and I realize I'm going against the grain here - I wasn't all that enamored of any of the characters. Truth be told, of the main six, the only two I liked were Tiffany and Vid. And perhaps Erika's husband, but he was so dull that I can't remember his name. Lots of reviews that I have read talk about Erika and Clementine's friendship and how it's a great example of adult female relationships, but honestly, I'd rather not have friends than have a friendship like that.
Truly Madly Guilty didn't put me off Liane Moriarty - I have a review of Three Wishes coming up (eventually) - but I don't know as it was worth the hype, and if Big Little Lies is anything like this, I'm not sure I'm going to rush out to read it.