17 Oct

Liane Moriarty's "Big Little Lies," published in 2014, is a brilliant blend of mystery, drama, and social commentary that delves into the lives of three women living seemingly perfect lives in a picturesque coastal town. As secrets and lies begin to unravel, the novel explores the complexities of female relationships, the consequences of deception, and the impact of domestic abuse. In this comprehensive 2000-word book review, we will dissect the novel's central themes, its well-crafted characters, and the cultural significance of this gripping narrative.

Plot Summary

"Big Little Lies" unfolds in the idyllic seaside town of Pirriwee, where the lives of three women—Madeline, Celeste, and Jane—become intertwined due to their children's enrollment in the same kindergarten class. Each woman carries her own secrets and struggles, but their friendship becomes a source of strength as they navigate the trials and tribulations of motherhood and relationships.

Madeline Mackenzie is a fierce and opinionated mother of three and is known for her sharp wit. She is plagued by resentment toward her ex-husband, Nathan, and his new wife, Bonnie. Madeline's involvement in school politics and her complicated relationships with her friends and family lead her into the heart of a murder investigation.

Celeste Wright, on the surface, seems to have a perfect life, with her handsome husband, Perry, and their twin boys. However, her marriage conceals a dark secret of domestic abuse. Celeste's inability to escape her abusive relationship sets the stage for a powerful exploration of the dynamics of abusive partnerships. Jane Chapman, a young and single mother, moves to Pirriwee with her son, Ziggy. 

Jane's past trauma and the mystery surrounding Ziggy's father make her a subject of gossip in the tight-knit community. Her friendship with Madeline and Celeste brings her into the tumultuous world of Pirriwee's kindergarten parents. The novel's narrative structure is intertwined with interviews and reflections from the other parents, providing a multifaceted perspective on the events leading up to a fateful school event.

As the story unfolds, tensions escalate, secrets are revealed, and the lives of the three women become increasingly entangled in a web of deception and violence. The murder at the heart of the story is kept a mystery until the novel's climax, creating a sense of suspense and intrigue that propels the narrative forward. The revelation of the victim and the circumstances leading to the crime provide a chilling conclusion to the story.

"Big Little Lies" also explores themes of female friendship, the weight of societal expectations, the impact of trauma, and the consequences of secrecy. The novel delves into the lives of its characters with a deft and empathetic touch, shining a light on the challenges and triumphs of women in contemporary society.


1. Female Friendship

"Big Little Lies" places a strong emphasis on female friendship. The bonds between Madeline, Celeste, and Jane serve as a central theme, offering an exploration of the complexities and strengths of women's relationships, especially in the face of adversity.

2. Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is a powerful and harrowing theme in the novel. Celeste's relationship with her husband, Perry, provides a sensitive portrayal of the cycle of violence and the struggles of victims to escape abusive situations.

3. Deception and Secrecy

Deception and secrecy are recurring themes as the characters grapple with their own hidden truths and the consequences of keeping secrets. The novel explores the impact of lies on individuals and relationships.

4. Parenting and Motherhood

Parenting and motherhood are central themes as the characters navigate the challenges of raising children, the expectations placed on mothers, and the importance of empathy and support in the journey of motherhood.

5. Society and Social Expectations

The novel addresses the weight of societal expectations and the judgment faced by women in contemporary society. It sheds light on the pressures of conforming to social norms and the consequences of non-conformity.

6. Trauma and Healing

The theme of trauma and healing is central to the characters' journeys. Each woman carries her own history of trauma, and the novel explores their attempts to heal and move forward with their lives.


Madeline Mackenzie

Madeline is a central character in the novel, known for her strong personality and her involvement in school politics. Her character embodies the theme of female friendship and is a source of strength and support for her friends.

Celeste Wright

Celeste is a complex character who grapples with domestic abuse in her marriage to Perry. Her character explores the theme of deception and secrecy, highlighting the challenges faced by victims of abuse.

Jane Chapman

Jane is a young and single mother who moves to Pirriwee with her son, Ziggy. Her character embodies the theme of societal expectations and the weight of judgment. Her traumatic past and the mystery of Ziggy's father are central to the narrative.

Perry Wright

Perry is Celeste's husband and a central figure in the novel's exploration of domestic abuse. His character is marked by violence and manipulation, representing the cycle of abuse and control.

Bonnie Carlson

Bonnie is Madeline's ex-husband's new wife, and her character serves as a source of tension and jealousy in Madeline's life. Her presence raises questions about forgiveness and healing.

Renata Klein

Renata is a fellow parent at the school and a character known for her wealth and ambition. Her character represents the societal pressures faced by women and the consequences of non-conformity.

Impact and Reception

"Big Little Lies" received widespread acclaim and became a bestseller, earning Liane Moriarty recognition for her skill in crafting a suspenseful and thought-provoking narrative. The novel's adaptation into an HBO miniseries in 2017, starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley, brought the story to an even wider audience and earned critical acclaim.

The novel's exploration of themes such as domestic abuse, female friendship, and societal expectations sparked important discussions about these issues. It received attention for its sensitive portrayal of abuse and its ability to shed light on the experiences of victims. 

"Big Little Lies" also raised questions about the power of female relationships and the strength that can be derived from them. The book's success inspired further adaptations of Moriarty's works and solidified her place as a prominent author in contemporary literature. The narrative's impact on popular culture and its ability to address important societal issues has made it a significant contribution to modern fiction.


"Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty is a gripping and thought-provoking exploration of female relationships, domestic abuse, and the consequences of secrecy. The novel's well-drawn characters and suspenseful narrative have resonated with readers and critics alike, leading to its widespread acclaim and adaptation into a popular television series.

Moriarty's work challenges the reader to confront difficult questions about the complexities of women's lives in contemporary society. "Big Little Lies" is a testament to the power of storytelling to address important societal issues and to provide a platform for discussions about abuse, friendship, and the weight of societal expectations. It is a masterfully crafted narrative that leaves readers both captivated and contemplative about the lives of its characters. 

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