Fiction

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

big little lies

I loved this book. It was my March’s book of the month.

It is a wonderful story of a friendship of three women, their dealings with motherhood as well as having to come to terms with some dark demons from their pasts.

I saw many shame related topics in this book. Moriarty deeply understands human behaviour and portrayed honest struggles of mothers and women in general.


Before we dive into this book, let’s have a look at GoodReads’ blurb first:

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.


There are three distinct voices, three unique stories, all intertwining over a mysterious murder story. I enjoyed the suspense of something just about to be revealed throughout the book. You know from the beginning that someone was murdered. But you don’t know who it was and why. That guessing game kept me engaged till the end.

The book is told from three different perspectives:

  • Madeline: on the outside, a strong and forceful mother who knows what she wants. On the inside, she is coming to grips with her teenage daughter rebelliousness and deals with shame over her parenting / motherhood.
  • Celeste:  on the outside, she is the ‘I have it all and I am so blessed’ mother, on the inside, she is harbouring many dark secrets, which she perceives as being partially caused by her own making. Side note: shame at its most powerful form.
  • Jane: another broken character. She is younger than the one two women and her voice reflects that. She also struggles with shame and does not believe that she is enough. Her story of coming to grips with her past was one of the most powerful parts of this book.

What all these perspectives shared was their dealings with shame.

Before we look at shame, here’s a quick note on the difference between shame and guilt.

Let’s say you promised your friend you water her plants for her. And somehow you forgot / didn’t get around to it and those plants died.

Guilt is you recognising you broke your promise and your behaviour was not in line with who you want to be. You feel guilty for your actions or rather the lack of them.

Shame on the other hand is when you internalise this incident and will make it mean all about you, rather than your actions. You will feel terrible for who you are and will feel like you, not your actions, failed your friend. As a consequence, you may feel like a failure.

Guilt can enable us to grow; shame on the other hand wants us to hide.

Shame loves secrecy and will try to prevent you from sharing that deep feeling of not being good enough with anyone else around you. They must not know at any cost!

What’s interesting is that women tend to get shame triggered on different topics than man. I guess it’s not surprising given how our society shapes us and what gender roles we observe whilst growing up.

Women tend to experience shame predominantly regarding their appearance and parenting.

Have you noticed when a discussion starts turning ugly, someone’s looks are usually amongst the first ammunition that gets used amongst women? Parenting comments are usually the next in line… All so readily available and capable of causing us a lot of pain.

I know when shame washes over me immediately. My face goes red, I feel like I want to hide under a blanket and not talk to anyone for days. My breathing becomes shallow, I may start sweating and all I want is to hide. I hate it. I absolutely hate that warm feeling of shame. The flip side is that via experiencing it, I must, be default, not be a psychopath… oh goody… thank goodness for the flip side eh? 😉

Anyhow, as I am growing I have learned that shame hates sharing. Opening up and being vulnerable with people I love and trust creates connections and makes me heal / cope much better.

With a risk of sounding like a broken record: Dr Brené Brown’s books on shame and vulnerability are my favourite non-fiction books. She offers many useful tips on shame resilience, is a great story teller and I am her big fan. ❤

I digressed a little. Following extract from the book deeply resonated with me:

“It wasn’t telling __ about ___. It was repeating those stupid little words he’d said.

They needed to stay secret to keep their power.

Now they were deflating, the way a jumping castle sagged and wrinkled as the air hissed out.”

So true!

All those little lies we tell ourselves to keep going, all those little secrets we harvest in the hope that no one will discover the real truth about us as we believe we may not be good enough and are desperately trying to become someone else. That’s Big Little Lies in a nutshell.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who likes character driven books. Moriarty’s characters are utterly believable.

I could not put it down, it made me cry at times but it also gave me hope.

5 out of 5 stars without a shadow of a doubt.

Possible triggers: domestic abuse and abuse in general

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple 5/5

Monthly Wrap Up

March Wrap Up

I’m still processing the fact that we are in April. How did that happen? 😀

March went by so quickly. I worked longer hours, went outside with my dog more often and didn’t feel like reading a lot.

I also went to the Czech Republic to see my family and then escaped it all whilst visiting a mountain cottage with my boyfriend in Snowdonia, Wales.

This was our morning view:

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No internet, no central heating, nothing luxurious… just a simple retreat in nature that recharged me after long working weeks. I learned that I love the board game Scrabble. And that Google is overrated… 😉

My critical self wanted to immediately start apologising that I ‘only’ read four books in March and that I haven’t been writing that much or commenting on other blogs recently.

Then I reminded myself why I started this blog and why I want to write this blog.

You see, one of my core values is Creativity.

It’s this wonderfully playful need to make something that keeps me content and brings me a lot of joy.

All those creative souls out there know that creativity is a process and sometimes, doesn’t happen on a whim.

On certain days, I can stare at my blank screen screaming as words just don’t want to come out. Then there are days when I could write for hours.

March was the month of the ‘I don’t feel it’ and ‘even if I feel like it, I can’t write about it’ themes. And that’s OK. 😊

I reflected a lot, connected with a lot of people face to face, day dreamed for hours as I didn’t want to read.. I’m sure you are getting the picture… 😉

I am desperately itching to write and read again. And I am so happy you are here with me. 😊

After a lengthy intro, let’s have a look at March reads, shall we:

  • The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, 3 stars

Slightly disturbing crime debut set in Irish Galway. I read it during St. Patrick’s day and it was a fairly fast paced and enjoyable read.

My full review can be found here.

  • Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman, 4 stars

Another crime read. This one was about head games, revenge and explored how we can forgive.

My review can be found here.

  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, 4 stars

March was the month when I discovered Liane Moriarty. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of amnesia / time travel whilst reading What Alice Forgot. Thanks Norrie for introducing me to this wonderful writer! 🙂

My review can be also found here.

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 5 stars

Yep, definitely the book of March. Wholly cow, I loved this book. I am still organising my scattered thoughts but its full review will be coming up shortly.

It’s a book about friendship but is also very heavy on shame. My favourite psychological topic. Please stay tuned for this one. 🙂


So that’s March in a nutshell.

Now over to you my friends.

What was your favourite March book?

Bookish

Help!

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Recently, lovely Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall wrote an interesting post entitled ‘Is Chivalry Dying in Books’.

This particular line of hers: ‘There’s no shame in a protagonist having to rely on others for support, regardless of their company’s sex’ really resonated with me and got me thinking.

You see, if you are a little bit like me, you may be more than happy to help others but may find it quite difficult to ask for help.

Asking for help makes me vulnerable. I am exposed when I admit that I can’t do it alone. I cannot predict or control the outcome whilst being vulnerable – I don’t know how I am going to be perceived. My ego hates it. But equally when I am being vulnerable, I create connections with others. Something my heart craves. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my inner turmoil! 😉

Back to my original thought before I digress too much. There tend to be two extremes in books:

  • Characters waiting for their heroes / heroines to rescue them.
  • Kick-ass heroes / heroines that just like to do everything alone and don’t need or ask for help.

I know I’m generalising and that it is not always true. It’s just I have read plenty of books that had one or the other of those two themes.

But then there is also the ‘I need help, but I don’t know how to ask for it’ example.

Let’s have a look at the J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.

In the movie version of the book, Frodo says: “I’ll take the Ring, though I do not know the way”. He is hinting he needs help, but he doesn’t ask for it directly.

Side note: this is when I usually start crying whilst watching this movie…

Frodo is this gentle and brave hobbit, who wants to help others but finds it difficult to ask for help directly.

And trust me, he is not the only one.

The problem with not being able to ask for help is that others may not know you need it. The amount of times I nearly held a grudge because somebody clearly did not read my mind! 😊😊😊

I think ‘asking for help’ is being more represented in children’s books. Fortunately children don’t see asking for help as weakness. Maybe that’s why I love so many children’s books as they are full of possibilities adults no longer believe.

I agree with Kelly’s point.

I think it’s extremely important to start seeing ‘asking for help’ as acceptable via creating vulnerable characters. As my favourite researcher, Dr Brené Brown, says: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

We have done nearly a 180 degree turn from the ‘damsel in distress‘ to ‘I don’t need anybody’s help’ messaging. It can certainly help me relating to characters, but does it serve me?

What do you think?

I would love to hear you opinions. It’s completely OK to disagree with my opinions by the way. 😊