CBR Bingo: Libations (took me a long while to realize that was a broken lolly)
A couple years ago I watched HBO’s adaptation of this book, and found myself completely sucked in. I binged both seasons in just a few days, and Laura Dern screaming “Thank youuuuuuu!” has lived rent-free in my head ever since.
After I watched the series I picked up the book. I got to the part where Madeline introduces herself using her full name, and even though that didn’t bother me that much when Reese Witherspoon did it in the show, I found myself cringing and decided then and there I couldn’t read something that gave me such terrible secondhand embarrassment, and returned it to the library.
Anyway, fast forward to now and rewatching the series for a much needed brain break. After I finished it for the second time, I decided to once again give the book a shot. While some parts of it still made me cringe or snort with impatience, overall I enjoyed this.
The basic plot revolves around the mothers of kindergartners at school in suburban Sydney, and a murder that occurs at the school’s trivia night–the conceit being that the reader doesn’t find out who was murdered until close to the end of the book. I liked the structure very much. Of course, I already knew who was murdered and who killed them, so there wasn’t much suspense, but I appreciate how Moriarty created doubt about who it could possibly be who died. She also handled some sensitive topics well, and it was funny, besides.
It surprised me how very White this is. While there are a very few people of color in the miniseries, they are not in the book (in fact, the book makes much of Bonnie’s pale skin–she’s played by Zoe Kravitz in the show). It’s a section of the White population (upper class, suburban parents) that I have always found sort of fascinating from a sociological perspective (the things they care about! The ways they spend their time!), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the characters grated on some readers’ nerves as they are a very tiresome sort of people. I also got very sick of hearing so much about the characters’ appearances, especially Jane and Celeste. I get it, Jane is too thin and Celeste is gorgeous. It just was too much “beautiful people have problems, too!” for me.
But–I did enjoy this. And I might even pick up another of Moriarty’s books, which I was sure before reading this that I never would.