On this last long weekend of the summer, I’m sipping my regular tea on Sunday evening after a wonderful day outdoors and am appreciating the perfect weather we’ve had recently. Too bad my recent reading experience has not been quite so perfect.
I was so excited to get notification from the library that my hold for Liane Moriarty’s latest book, Truly, Madly, Guiltily was ready for pick-up. I almost bought a copy of this title at Coles earlier in the week, but it was a hardcover, and I prefer trade paperbacks - I told myself to be patient, that I would be going to the library on Saturday to pick it up. Well, good thing I convinced myself to wait, because I just could not get into this book. If you recall, I’ve loved the last few books by this author, The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies, and this novel started out much the same as the others… some event has occurred that has significantly affected the relationships of the characters in the book, but this event is kept from the reader, meted out in alternating chapters, a bit of a “before and after” strategy. Three couples are featured prominently in this storyline: mousy accountant Erika and her equally "male-version mousy" husband Oliver are friends with successful cellist Clementine and her attractive husband Sam, and Oliver’s and Erika’s neighbours, larger-than-life Vid and his stunningly gorgeous wife Tiffany, become involved with the group after an impromptu invitation to a Sunday afternoon BBQ. We the reader know something significant happened at the BBQ, but in customary fashion, Moriarty strings us along with clues and tidbits, while also letting us in on what is happening at the present time. I have loved this in previous books, and have marveled at how well she is able to keep everything straight, keeping us in suspense while revealing just enough information to keep us interested. But this book just was not doing anything for me, for a couple of reasons: Erika in this book was too much like Jane in Big Little Lies, both in looks and in character. And I felt that the storyline was also too similar to both previous titles. I thought at first that perhaps I wasn't able to get into the book because I’ve been distracted, since it was the first week back to work after the summer holidays, but then I read a NY Times review of this book and found myself agreeing with everything the reviewer had written about rehashed stories and lack of depth regarding characters’ relationships. So I brought it back to the library unfinished, since others were waiting for it and I had no time to finish before getting to my next book club book. So if this is your first time reading Liane Moriarty’s work, you may find it OK, or you may think “What is everyone raving about? She’s not that great!” If I had to recommend a title to start with, I would say read The Husband’s Secret first then Big Little Lies (a much darker story, but still hilarious). I guess if I had purchased this title, I would have been able to put it down unfinished to read my other book, then would have gone back to it later - it was not so bad that I wouldn’t have finished it, it just did not meet my admittedly high expectations.
That’s all for tonight. Enjoy the holiday tomorrow, whatever you do, and don’t forget to keep reading!
Bye for now…