I began reading Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies for my monthly book club. I had heard the Australian bestseller was due to be converted into a mini-series and was determined to read it before the release date. I’ve always been one of those people who cannot be satisfied by book to screen adaptations, there’s always something I can fault, be it the tone, the characters or the script. I needed to read Big Little Lies to form my basis for future criticism.
The book itself has received wide acclaim, published in 2014, Big Little Lies reached the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list in the first week of publication, a first for an Australian author. The novel went on to win the Davitt Award for Adult Fiction in 2015 and in the same year won the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year award. The hype around this book was becoming unbelievable and, with a mix between curiosity and a desire to support this Australian author cast into the limelight, I dove into its pages.
For me, Big Little Lies was the typical airport novel. Well-written and engaging, yes, but this book was little more than a literary palette-cleanser, the type of book you read as a filler between the big ones. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed reading Big Little Lies. I finished it in four days and towards the big reveal, the book was basically glued to my hand. Moriarty did a superb job at creating tension, something so many authors seem to struggle with, and she truly had me engaged as a reader from start to finish.
However, despite the engaging story and Moriarty’s wonderful creation of dramatic tension, I found myself wanting more from this book. Big Little Lies is chic-lit to the extreme, and while this genre definitely assisted with the easy-reading style and humour of the novel, at points it almost felt like watching an episode of Desperate Housewives. So many massive issues are addressed in this novel, domestic abuse, being at the forefront, and it often felt as if those issues were somewhat diminished or simplified to fit into the narrative that Moriarty had created.
Nevertheless, I’m approaching the release of the Big Little Lies series with enthusiasm. Reese Witherspoon is the perfect casting for Madeline, and I can’t wait to see her take on the sparkly persona that I so loved in the novel. Nicole Kidman is an obvious choice as Celeste and as an Australian actor who’s found fame in America (a bit like Moriarty herself) I’m sure she’ll be adept at transplanting a Sydney-based story to a California equivalent scenario. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants and the Divergent series) seems an excellent casting decision as Jane and I’ve long-fostered a soft spot for the beautiful Alexander Skarsgård, ever since his performance as Eric in the HBO adaptation of True Blood.
Overall, I felt Moriarty did an excellent job injecting humour into a book that is essentially about murder and domestic violence and I’m definitely interested to see if and how this humour comes across in the TV adaptation of Big Little Lies.
The first episode of the Big Little Lies mini-series is set to be released tonight at 8:30pm on Showcase.