This novel by Liane Moriarty was a good way to start 2017 and was my second foray into an interestingly structured Moriarty tale. In Big Little Lies, the first novel of hers I read, the story circles around a death, the details which are not revealed until almost the end. Similarly, the events of Truly Madly Guilty swirl around something catastrophic that happens at an afternoon barbeque, but what that event involves exactly takes most of the story to get to. However, in both cases, it really is all about the journey.
This barbeque brings together three very different couples. Erika and Oliver, who are reserved, a tad OCD, and childless have invited Erika’s longtime friend, Clementine, her husband Sam and their two kids over for lunch. However, a spontaneous invitation from their neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, turns the affair into more of a party as they all go over to enjoy Tiffany and Vid’s luxurious back yard and Vid’s grilling skills. However, a lot is going on under the surface of this suburban gathering, especially relating to the friendship between Erika and Clementine, which runs deep but also has its rocky elements. As a kid, Clementine was pushed by her social worker mother to befriend, Erika, the odd and socially awkward daughter of a hoarder, and though they have experienced many important life events together, they also drive each other crazy.
Moriarty is good at creating realistic characters, who you care about but are also frequently exasperated with. The awkwardness of the friendship between Clementine and Erika is excruciating to witness but rings true. Yes, something happens at the barbeque and it shakes the relationships between all involved to the core but the result is disastrous, revelatory, and very engaging to read about.
NOTE TO SELF: Self, write review right after you finish the book. Don’t wait two weeks. Sigh.