23 December 2016

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

"Despite their differences, Erika and Clementine have been best friends since they were children. So when Erika needs help, Clementine should be the obvious person to turn to. Or so you'd think.

For Clementine, as a mother of a two desperately trying to practise for the audition of a lifetime, the last thing she needs is Erika asking for something, again.

But the barbecue should be the perfect way to forget their problems for a while. Especially when their hosts, Vid and Tiffany, are only too happy to distract them.

Which is how it all spirals out of control..."

Rating: 4/5

I've read a few books by Australian author Liane Moriarty so far, and thought each of them was utterly compelling, I didn't want to put them down, and they are certainly not stories I will forget in a hurry. I spotted Liane's latest book Truly Madly Guilty on Netgalley a while ago, and eagerly downloaded it to my Kindle, keen to get stuck in! The story didn't disappoint - there was intrigue, secrets, lies and more within the pages of this book and I just couldn't stop reading, hurtling towards the finish far too quickly for my liking.

Erika and Clementine are best friends, and have been for a long time, since they were children in fact. Clementine is determined to get a coveted job, rehearsing at every opportunity, unsure of her own skills, and family life always seeming to get in the way. So when her neighbours Vid and Tiffany ask them around for a barbeque, Clementine and her husband, together with her best friend Erika and other half accept, sure a night off will right all the wrongs. But when something awful happens, it splits up friendships, divides opinion and leaves very unsettled waters in its wake. But what happened that fateful night?

The intriguing this about this book for me was that I actually didn't really like any of the characters within it at all. But is this the point? Were they meant to be likeable, or realistic yet flawed individuals, all held together by this devastating secret, thinking things about each other that they would never dare voice aloud. There's Clementine, obsessed with her audition for a cello part in an orchestra, obsessed to the point of ignoring her family. For this, I deeply disliked her, and the way she treated those around her due to her own lack of self-belief. There was her friend Erika, a successful career woman who outwardly appears to have it all but is harbouring her own personal heartache. The there's the neighbours - there's something about Tiffany and Vid which doesn't sit right with Clementine and Erika.

But as to what happened on the night of the barbeque... well you have to wait for the majority of the book in order to find out what really happened. When it was revealed, I was a bit surprised, but then I had pieced things together a little bit and had had a guess that this may be what occurred. Still, it was nonetheless shocking when it happened, and I read those scenes with my heart in my mouth. Moriarty has a way of writing things so realistically, you feel as if you are there with them, experiencing it too. The actions of the characters remain with me, and I don't think I could say if that were me how I would have dealt with it.

In fact, this book isn't so much about what happened that night, but how it affects each of the characters, and what happens in their lives in the aftermath of that night. The book is told through flashbacks, and different narratives. It took a few chapters for me to get fully absorbed into the story and the way it was told, working out who was who and so forth, but once that was done, it was easy to follow. I enjoyed seeing how the characters put on a front to each other, for example Clementine and Erika, who outwardly showed love for each other, but behind closed doors it was a different story - this certainly wasn't a friendship that seemed destined to survive the ages. There's many secrets, lies, bitching, and heartache within this novel, but somehow you don't want to put it down, keen to see how it's all going to end.

For me, this wasn't my favourite of Liane Moriarty's books, but there was something really compelling about it, even once the big secret of what happened that night had been revealed. I loved Moriarty's writing as usual, it drew me into the lives of these characters, and how their lives were affected after what had happened, everyone of course reacting in different ways. Moriarty's books are so realistic, you can easily imagine this sort of thing sadly happening, and it certainly makes you think about how much you know about the friends you surround yourself with. You need to persevere with this book - there are longs portions of narrative that seemed to go on for a while, lots of narrative changes to keep track of and a dragged out suspenseful story. However, it is worth the wait, and I enjoyed the read very much. Bring on Liane Moriarty's next book!

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