"The new novel from Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Husband's Secret, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot, about how sometimes we don't appreciate how extraordinary our ordinary lives are until it's too late. "What a wonderful writer--smart, wise, funny." --Anne Lamott Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It's just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families. Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there's anything they can count on, it's each other. Clementine and Erika are each other's oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don't hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid's larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won't stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can't stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn't gone? In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don't say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm"--
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There was a
On the other side of the coin there was mainly frustration … at the agonisingly slow release of the plot and continual jumping around of characters viewpoints. ‘Do we really care about any of these people? 'No' was the answer.
It was agreed that the style was specific to Moriarty, she has a unique way of stretching out the inevitable, so there could be no surprises in that sense, and it definitely ticks the boxes for many people. But in a world where quality novels abound, there are plenty more pickings out there for those looking past the familial calamity genre. You just need to wade through the popular trenches to find them.
This is a story of marriage and friendship and how they ebb and flow through life events. In particular a near tragedy that leaves each participant feeling their own guilt but also a sense of blame towards some of the others who were there. Celeste, Erica and Tiffany are the three women and each one has her own problems that are worked through during the course of the book. Celeste has a marriage that has gone stale from balancing young children, work and a hectic lifestyle. Erica is half of a couple who want children and are unable to conceive, and Tiffany is a wife that has a tricky past and is treated more like a prized possession than an equal. The husbands, Sam, Oliver and Vid also have issues to work through, but the bulk of the story revolves around the women.
I had a couple of problems with this story. There is so much foreshadowing and build-up to the night of the barbecue that it felt a little formulaic and contrived. Also the book was very slow moving particularly during the first third of the book. However, once it got going, I enjoyed it very much and there was enough humor and wry observations to keep my interest. The characters were well developed and I came to care about what was happening to them. I listened to an audio version of the book as read by Caroline Lee whose reading I very much enjoyed.
The story revolves around the mysterious catastrophe at an impromptu barbecue. The events of that night are enough to unravel long-term friendships as well as marriages and one’s mental health. Flipping back and forth between each character’s point of view as well as in time, you do not find out what the catastrophe is until late in the novel. By the time Ms. Moriarty reveals this event, the build-up to it is immense, eclipsing almost everything else that is occurring within the story because it is the linchpin behind everyone’s current behavior. Yet, the catastrophe, once revealed, is anticlimactic. There is no doubt that it was traumatic and scary, but the guilt everyone feels is almost too extreme for something that results in no long-term harm. The actions of the couples after the barbecue do not appear to reflect reality or even common sense, at least to me.
Making matters worse, the characters are almost insipid compared to her previous characters. Each is self-absorbed to the point of being irritating. Of particular concern is the friendship between Clementine and Erika. Theirs is a toxic friendship in many ways, and the animosity they feel towards each other most of the time will keep you repeatedly wondering why they remain friends. Disconcertingly, it is the men in the novel who fare the best under scrutiny. Of the six, Vid is the most realistic in his ability to accept what happened and move on with his life. He is not filled with debilitating guilt; he does not question his self-worth. His reactions are refreshing and become the novel’s highlight. Everyone else remains bogged down in their individual issues, which makes the story much of a slog.
In fact, the rest of the cast are disturbing stereotypes. Clementine is a musician by trade and Sam is in Marketing; Clementine is flighty and prone to extreme anxiety while Sam is spontaneous and creative. Both are outgoing and adventurous. Go figure. Erika and Oliver are accountants and are the exact opposite of Clementine and Sam to the point of being rigid, exacting, and introverted. Logic and discipline rule their lives. Again, what a surprise. While stereotypes are rooted in truth, Ms. Moriarty does nothing to challenge these stereotypes but rather includes every negative aspect of them which serves to compound the issues already existing within the novel.
Given the excellence that was her previous novel, the fact that Truly Madly Guilty is not very good magnifies your disappointment. Not every book an author will write is going to be excellent, and we should expect that. However, this novel is such a departure for her that it is a bit upsetting if not slightly shocking. The characters are too unrelenting in their stereotypical identity, too maudlin in their self-pity, and too one-dimensional to enjoy reading about them. The story itself is boring and lacks the sense of catastrophe implied by the build-up to the barbecue. The resolution is the most realistic part of the story but sadly should have been the initial reaction to the barbecue. The whole thing leaves a bitter taste in your mouth that represents disappointment, shock, and concern. One can only hope that this is a fluke and that Ms. Moriarty’s next novel lives up to her reputation.
This is a big book at almost 500 pages but I enjoyed every bit of it. I particularly enjoyed the unlikely friendship between Clementine and Erika, two of the main characters and how the balance shifted between them throughout the story. It's a slow burner but so cleverly written that it just pulled me right into the story. A great book by a reliable and interesting writer.
So much is happening here, a troubled marriage, a cellist with a big upcoming audition, IVF, hoarding, pole dancing, a resentful friendship etc. How this author puts this story together and makes it work is like a magic trick. So easy to read, flows right along, the two little girls providing a great deal of humor and the observations of people and marriages that can only be described as insightful. Easy to relate to because I know people like some of these in this book. The ending was a little pat for my taste but I so enjoyed getting there that I decided to leave my rating as it is.
I haven't liked all her books as much as her last two but she has the knack of taking and exaggerating human foibles to put together amazing stories. Lighter fiction, because of the tone, but with a little bite.
ARC from publisher.
I thought this book was well written, intuitive and observant of human nature. No-one is perfect, everyone has their secrets and people are not always as they seem! The story deals with quite a few themes, including mental illness issues, alcoholism, loneliness, parenting and childlessness. It's cleverly plotted with a few surprises along the way and the ending is left on a happy note.
An absorbing and compelling tale about how we respond to what life throws at us. It's also about blame, self-reproach, and absolution. I very much enjoyed Truly Madly Guilty - it had me avidly turning the pages as I was anxious to find out how events transpired.
Many thanks to Lovereading.co.uk for the opportunity to read and review this book.
The problem with all forms of media is that as soon as something is found to be extremely well received, or popular, the copycats come out of the woodwork. I can picture meeting at publishers where they cry out: give me the next Gone Girl, give me he next The Girl On He Train. And what the reader gets is a subpar copy of these books. If you truly want to be disappointed with a book look for the words " for fans of" and then either of these authors or titles. I believe Liane Moriarty is also in this select group, and like Gillian Flynn, she has proven she can do it more than once, we will have to wait and see with Paula Hawkins.
Truly Madly Guilty, tells the story of 3 couples, 3 children, who attend a BBQ, and what happens at that BBQ, will have lasting profound effects, on each of them. Also part of the story are the parents of two of the couples and how their influence affect the way the two couples behave. Throw in a cranky neighbor and you have a story, that on the surface the reader might say, " how can this book be over 400 pages and be about a BBQ? As with all Moriarty books it is about how a single occurrence affects those who witness it, how they behave both before it happened as well as after, and the story is roughly told, in the back and forth way with alternating chapters of being at the BBQ as well as before and after the BBQ.
I am so happy to see this author's popularity happening here in the USA, there are a number of outstanding writers in Australia, Candace Fox and Christos Tsiolkas, to name two whose books are definitely worth seeking out and reading, whose quality storytelling puts much of what is hyped here in the USA to shame.
I enjoyed this book, but I have to say it could have been a bit shorter without losing any of the impact. After The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies, maybe I was expecting too much but this one wasn't as big a hit for me.
Three couples spend an afternoon at a BBQ
Through gradual reveals we get to learn the answers to the questions that Moriarty sets us up with at the beginning - What was it about Erika's childhood that has caused her so much trauma? What happened at the BBQ that has affected the relationships between all those who attended? And how does the grumpy old neighbour fit in to the narrative?
This is very much a character driven book and the complicated relationships between the characters change as the novel progresses. I particularly liked the input of the three children whose feelings were overlooked in the adults' self incriminations.
The author is also particularly good at the asides that I find myself highlighting as I read; two in particular, appealed to me:
" "Start talking" she said to her GPS. "You've got one job. Do it" "
and "According to Clemantine, Sam treated use-by dates as suggestions"
Covering many subjects, this is a worthwhile read, I guess it was just a bit too drawn out to quite merit five stars.
This book focuses on three families, Erika and Oliver, a married couple with no children and good jobs, both had rubbish childhoods due to their
The book starts Clementine doing a talk about a barbecue, Erika is watching the talk, hoping that it will jolt her memory to that day. The focus of this book is the day of the barbeque, the events that take place before the barbecue right up until the tragic event. Unfortunately you do not find out what this actual event is until about half way through the book. From then on in, we find that Erika is still trying to remember what actually happened as she had a blank spot in her memory about that afternoon. We also find that relationships are strained and the whole aftermath of the events of that day and a lot of guilt is floating about from all characters.
The book goes back and forth from the different characters and giving their POV’s from present day and the day of the barbecue but it does not get confusing as the author has put on the top of the chapter if it was a past event. It reminded me of a crime being reconstructed in some ways, but it definitely built up a wide and focused picture of what actually happened. The further into the book you go the more things are revealed and I was left quite shocked at some of the revelations.
Truly Madly Guilty is very much like Liane’s other books in the fact that it will keep you guessing but my also get you a little frustrated if you are not a patient person and wants to know what actually happened quickly.
I think the way Liane laid out this book was a great way to get the readers hooked, I certainly was. It was well written and although the event was not revealed for a long while I think that it made the characters more likeable and they developed greatly throughout. I like to get to know a character and you certainly do in this book.
All in all I think Truly Madly Guilty is fantastic read, it kept be hooked, which a good book should and I would definitely recommend it.
That being said, don’t let the slowness of the first half of the book discourage you completely. There is more to the book than what actually happened at the barbeque. Even after that is revealed, there are other facts to be disclosed. I found the characters to be likeable and I cared about them, even while I sometimes found them to be immature and a bit irritating. There are many layers to this book. The complex relationships between these people, their marriages and their pasts are quite intensely explored and I found some of those sections very interesting and enjoyable. I just felt that the structure of the book wasn’t the best means of presenting the story.