Truly Madly Guilty (Liane Moriarty, Macmillan)
Liane Moriarty is an author with a dedicated fan-base, and it seems only fair to preface this review by saying I have not read any of her previous novels. Not Big Little Lies, which is currently being adapted for television by HBO. Nor The Husband’s Secret, which reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list. But Truly Madly Guilty is the type of novel that you can sink into without any prior knowledge of its author. It centres on a disastrous incident at a suburban barbecue that divides friends, family and neighbours—and exasperatingly, remains shrouded in mystery for at least the first half of the novel. But if this carries echoes of The Slap, it shouldn’t. Moriarty’s focus is on the power dynamics within relationships and the toxic toll that unspoken umbrages can take on us. She writes in an intimate, confiding style that occasionally veers into lightly veiled bitchiness—the story is told from multiple perspectives so Moriarty gets to explore each character’s juicy, twisted perspective. While the plot is occasionally soap-operatic, and the characterisation of characters such as blonde, ‘walking Viagra’ Tiffany feels simultaneously lazy and offensive, Truly Madly Guilty is compulsive reading laced with good humour and moral quandaries.
Hilary Simmons is a former assistant editor at Books+Publishing and a freelance writer, copywriter and editor