Truly Madly Guilty

by Liane Moriarty

Paperback, 2017




Flatiron Books (2017), Edition: Reprint, 560 pages


"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"--… (more)


½ (796 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member joannemonck
I am an avid follower of Liane Moriarty books but this one was a little disappointing. An "accident" occurs at a barbecue and everyone is effected in different ways. The two main characters have been friends since early age. But "friends" is really not defining their relationship at the time of the
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barbecue. It appears to be more of a hanger-on and taking care of the "poor" one then an actual friendship. After the accident everything changes for all involved.
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LibraryThing member jody12
Fiction is all about delivering a story that keeps the reader intrigued and emotionally connected to the characters, setting or plot. The popularity of Moriarty’s novels would give the impression that she has mastered this formula well … then again, that may not necessarily be so.
There was a
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healthy divide of opinions in our group. Those who loved this latest of Moriarty’s domestic tales, found themselves totally engrossed and empathised with the characters and their many dilemmas. ‘A perfectly entertaining read.’
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.
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LibraryThing member she_climber
Took a while to get into this one. It felt like a game of keep away, everyone was talking around me but I just couldn't grasp onto what they were really talking about that happened that day at the barbecue. Once things started being revealed I was able to get more into the book and enjoyed it more.
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Not one of my favorite Moriarty books, but I'll definitely keep reading them.
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LibraryThing member ChrisWay
A bit drawn out.
LibraryThing member TLVZ721
I am listening to this on audio book. And I have to tell you, I am having an exceptionally hard time. On the heels of the other Liane Moriarty novels I've read and loved, this one has me yelling at my radio in the car, "GET TO THE POINT!!!" I don't know whether it's the narrator or the novel
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itself, but it drags to the point of utter frustration. I am all about the little details that add depth and richness to character development, but when you take a full eleven minutes to explain (for example) why a character chooses one ice cream flavor over another, you've pretty much lost me. I'll finish this because I'm this close to the end, but I am highly disappointed. Build up, build, up, endless build nothing. Ugh... And for as much description that was involved, you'd think that I'd at least be somewhat invested in the characters; however, all seem to annoy me in one way or another, which is highly unlike me -- usually I really enjoy or connect with at least one. Not the case this time. Will I read future novels by Liane Moriarty? Absolutely. Because I believe this one to be a fluke. Will I recommend this title to others? Not in good bibliophile conscience.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty is her follow up novel after the huge success of Big Little Lies. This book is set up much as her previous one in that the reader knows something happened in the recent past at a neighbourhood barbecue and the story delivers both the aftermath of that event as
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well as small flashbacks that slowly pull the pieces of what happened together.

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.
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LibraryThing member adrianburke
I couldn't finish this book. I could not keep fixed in my mind who was married to who. The structure of cutting in a bit of the barbecue day with a bit of another was just too confusing. You cannot keep a reader dangling so when the returns for hanging in there were so poor. It might work on film
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but when the reader has to keep going under their own steam the whole project crumples when the book is so darned long. Cut to 150 pages it could have kept me in.
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LibraryThing member jmchshannon
Liane Moriarty usually excels at portraying modern-day relationships in all of the gory glory. Her witty dialogue and realistic characters typically make for entertainingly uncomfortable reads, if only because she strikes so close to home in her situations and characters. Unfortunately, Truly Madly
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Guilty is a rare misstep in which the characters are less realistic than normal and the situations in which they find themselves are boring. Gone is the witty banter. In its place is a plethora of self-pity and adult whining. It is a novel that does more to annoy than it does entertain.

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.
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LibraryThing member NML_dc
I really need to stop reading these books.
LibraryThing member ToniFGMAMTC
This story switches between what happened before and after the barbecue. The reader doesn't know what actually happened for much of the story, but it changed the lives of everyone in the book. You get to see inside most of character's heads before, during and after the event. All the people are
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connected in different ways. You find out some aren't as perfect as others may think, and some are not as bad as everyone believes. Every person has several dimensions. The title is very appropriate. The truth comes out. Feelings of anger, craziness and guilt are abundant. Some issues need a therapist. Others just need openness. It's really good and showing how we're all messed up in some way and how life can change in a blink. It's a really good read about life and relationships.
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LibraryThing member CatherineBurkeHines
I read a lot. I never cry when I read, never. This book brought me to tears. I won't spoil it by telling you which scene, but I was so invested in the characters that their journey became mine. That, to me, is the sign of a Writer.
LibraryThing member TerriS
This is an interesting story of three couples and how one afternoon barbecue changes all their lives. And in true Liane Moriarty style, the reader doesn't get to know "what happened" until at least half way through the book. So the mystery of trying to figure it out makes the story even more
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exciting. I have enjoyed three of Moriarty's books and will look around for more!
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LibraryThing member LivelyLady
A story of three couples and an incident that impacts all. Well written by this Aussie author. Spans over four months. No spoiler. Not a "5" as I found it hard initially to keep the characters straight.
LibraryThing member cjordan916
Kid falls into a fountain at a party, almost drowns
LibraryThing member nicx27
Truly Madly Guilty is Liane Moriarty doing what she does best: observing human life along with all the flaws and quirks that every single one of us has. She did it in Big Little Lies too, and where this is similar is that the major event of the book takes place quite a way through, with everything
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leading up to it and hinting at it. However, the major event is not really the focus of the book - it's more about friendships and obligations, marriages and pasts.

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.
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LibraryThing member pegmcdaniel
I am a Liane Moriarty fan and have enjoyed many of her novels. This novel wasn't as much fun for me even though the characters were well-developed. There are six flawed adults, three innocent children, and one barking dog who are involved the day of the main event, a neighborhood barbeque. We know
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right from the start that something terrible happened at that barbeque but, believe me, it takes a long time and a lot of reading to find out what happened. Some reviewers have suggested a lot of patience is needed in order to stick with this novel and I found that to be true. We find out the backgrounds of all of the adults, none of which contributed a whole lot to the novel but certainly filled a lot of pages. It switches back and forth between the present time and what else, you ask? The day of the barbeque! At least, there's a twist at the end which I didn't see coming. You will read about musical ambition, guilt, problem marriages, family relationships, parenting, friends, and neighbors.
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LibraryThing member Alphawoman
The Title could just as easily been One Ordinary Day. I suppose it was meant to be a study on the how complicated relationships are. husband and wife , mother and daughter, best friends etc. but it just didn't hit many marks.
LibraryThing member Beamis12
Something terrible happened at a BBQ, a BBQ that three cups plus three young children attended. Whether this book works for the reader depends on patience, patience because it takes quite awhile before, we find out what happened. Not that a great deal, back stories of the characters, their
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thoughts, doesn't happen in alternating chapters, so it depends on how interesting you find their stories. Obviously it worked for me.

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.
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LibraryThing member VanessaCW
A thought provoking story centring around a terrible incident at a barbecue. The tragedy does not happen at the beginning of the book, but about two thirds of the way through. So, it's a slow burner and as events unfold, the lives, thoughts and dreams of all those concerned are revealed little by
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little. It's very much a character based tale and is about their reactions before, during and after the barbecue and the repercussions.

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 for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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LibraryThing member zmagic69
Liane Moriarty's new book Truly Madly Guilty, is indeed everything you could ask for in a summer beach book. But to say this shortchanges the book, as it is so much more than this. No other author is as adept as Moriarty at taking a single occasion or occurrence, mixing in 10-30 additional subplot
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points and tying them all together, into a story that the reader will be able to reflect on, sympathize with various characters, while vilifying others, and when all is said and done and the reader has finished the book, be able to see how truly plausible the story is.
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.
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LibraryThing member DubaiReader
The BBQ that changed their lives.

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
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in one of their gardens and 'something' happens that has a profound effect on all their lives.
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.
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LibraryThing member susan.h.schofield
This is somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars. I had high hopes for this book since I loved Big Little Lies. It was a good book and definitely held my attention - you immediately get sucked in and have to find out what happened at the barbeque. The book follows a similar formula of her other books -
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jumping back and forth from the day of the barbecue to present day. But in my opinion, while it had interesting characters and a fairly realistic story, it lacked the humor and shocking twists of Big Little Lies.
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LibraryThing member StressedRach
I am a huge fan of Liane Moriarty and have read almost all of her books now so when Truly Madly Guilty was released I just had to get my hands on it.

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
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parents so are made for each other. Clementine and Sam are a married couple with two young daughters, Holly and Ruby. This couple are friends with Erika and Oliver, although apparently not as good friends as Erika had thought. Clementine is a cellist and hoping for big things and Sam works in an office but doesn’t particularly enjoy it. Then we have Vid and Tiffany, they have one daughter, Dakota and a dog, they are Erika and Oliver’s next door neighbours. They have an extravagant house. Vid is an electrician and Tiffany spends her time doing up places.

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.
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LibraryThing member hubblegal
This in-depth look at a group of neighbors makes for an interesting read, although it starts off way too slowly. Six neighbors and three children get together for a barbeque when something goes wrong. The tease of what happens at the barbeque isn’t revealed until halfway through this lengthy
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book. The telling of the story fluctuates between the time period after the barbeque and the day of the barbeque. During the first half of the book, you can see the effects of whatever happened on these people but you don’t really understand why until half way through the book. I found that to be annoying. I think the author would have been better off if she had started the book by telling about the day of the barbeque and then went into how it affects everyone and the divisions and guilt that are exposed. For some reason, the first half of this book reminded me of the TV series, “The Slap”, and I kept wondering if something similar had happened at this barbeque. At least with “The Slap”, the incident is revealed at the beginning.

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.
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
Her b est book so far. Interesting twists and once I accepted the time line it was kind of fun.


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8.34 inches


1250069807 / 9781250069801
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