If you’ve known me for a while now, you’ve probably realised my obsession with books. If you’ve ever asked me for a book recommendation, there’s probably a chance I’ve fished out a Liane Moriarty novel from my handbag (one of her books I had been re-reading for the third or fourth time) and shoved it in your face while excitedly telling you to READ IT. I’ve probably gone on to present you with a soliloquy on how every single one of Liane Moriarty’s books are amazing, and how she is the most talented author whose books I cannot fault and are my favourite thing to read.
Well, all this was very true up until now.
Truly Madly Guilty is a 415 page novel released by Moriarty in the second half of 2016. It was a novel that I was anxiously anticipating because I had finished all her previous novels and quite frankly was getting bored of re-reading them whenever I felt like a light hearted read. Let me start off by saying that this novel was at least 200 pages too long. Even that is a generous account of just how much this story disappointed me. Had I jumped into this story with too great of an expectation from Moriarty? Maybe. But the point is that as I sat flicking through the pages waiting to be entertained by the amazing, personable characters that Moriarty always portrays in her novels, I found myself being bored and feeling like these characters were dry and, dare I say, unimagniative.
The novel opens deliberately coy about an event that has passed at some innocent neighbourhood BBQ. True to Moriarty’s style, we have a range of characters and a story line that is working up to a big reveal. In the case of this novel, the characters left me confused and the storyline was so flat, something i’ve NEVER previously felt about any of her preceeding novels. Clementine was the Cellist and Erika was the accountant, but I felt that Moriarty was confused about which character she wanted to make artsy, and which she wanted to be an accomplished professional. Both of their Husbands Sam and Oliver were bloody boring, and had such unsubstantial roles, she easily could’ve made them both single women. The only enthralling characters were Vid and Tiffany and their daughter Dakota. Dakota was the only one who I was ever wondering “What’s her problem?” all the rest, I actually couldn’t care less.
The loooong lead up and hugely un necessary back story was frustrating and the constant referral to the day of the BBQ and the ways in which that day had supposedly “changed their lives” constantly made me think that this reveal better be beyond amazing or I’m going to throw this book out of the window (even if I was on the bus when it happened). I was so tempted to read ahead, or flick ahead and then flick back but my loyalty and trust in Moriarty was the only thing that stopped me.
By the time I arrived to the “Day of the BBQ” all the curiosity within me was dead, and I was just reading to satisfy the tiny glimmer of interest that was left.
The big reveal was SUCH an anti climax, that although I didn’t throw the book in the bin (I paid $33 in Kinkokuniya for that thanks!) I did have a little out loud “Are you fucking serious” while I lay lamely in bed on a Friday night. It wasn’t creative, or smart or different or dynamic, it was such a plain, boring and ordinary event it was hard to believe that I was reading works of the same author as “Last Anniversay” or “The Husbands Secret”. Where had the imagination gone?
Despite the giant slice of dissatisfaction that Moriarty had served me with, I continued to read. Partly for loyalty sake, and partly (or really wholly) for the reason I had nothing new to read. After the big reveal, its evident that she was trying to redeem herself by conjuring and disclosing more facts that related to the shameful events that had taken place at the BBQ to try and make it seem more shocking or unbelievable (the events that Holly recounts…) Regardless the novel was dying a natural death for me, and in the end I was reading the pages and thinking about other things…”what will I have for dinner?” “I need to make a dentists appointment…”
In the end, I was actually relieved to have finished it. Unfortunately, this book did not do it for me. The only shock that came from this book was not the events at the BBQ but the shock that it was actually the same author that had written my previous favourite novels. I give it a solid 1/5 and actually wouldn’t recommend it. Don’t bore yourself with this one. There are better things out there… Sorry Liane 😦