This is the second Liane Moriarty book I’ve read (The Husbands Secret was the other), and I’m left with the same impression as first time – a very competent writer with a knack for capturing the fine grain detail of life in the current culture from a woman’s POV. This time the story tackles the kinds of slippage in relationships that can lead to them failing – the mundane, everyday stuff of life that accretes to something mighty big and important. She’s fabulous at this; she lets the tension slowly build until it reaches the point where its gripping, then you can’t put the book down.
We have three couples – Clementine and Sam, Erika and Oliver, Vid and Tiffany. The politics of long, intimate relationships are the stuff of this story – the dynamics of marriage, mothering, need, and desire as lived by these three very different couples. It’s well done, I loved them all by the end of it. The cast of secondary characters – children, mothers, neighbours is just as rich and you feel their pain as things get difficult. Moriarty draws her characters with a soft nib; she likes them – otherwise, certain of them would be unbearable. As it is, their human frailties are all too familiar and I found myself feeling all sorts of identifications with their lives; so easy to understand and behaviour and concerns that are so very sharply observed. I found myself growing quite fond of them.
The story itself is deeply embedded in the lives of first-world suburbanites; problems with careers, problems with flagging marriages, problems with parental paranoias, problems with status anxiety. Moriarty builds, hints, teases about what’s coming, and the sucker punch, when it finally does come, is a doozy. Then the story becomes really interesting as the drama unfolds following the fateful barbecue where it all comes adrift.
I have one niggle – the set up part of the book is unnecessarily long and annoyingly chirpy as Moriarty fluffs about. If you’re easily dissuaded you may not persist long enough to get to the rich bits. Do persist, it’s worth it! She casts depth and power into what would otherwise be too easily dismissed as a chick-lit cosy read, but even though it may not deliver your psyche into awe and wonder, this has more spine, more guts, more punch. You might just see yourself in there.