This book starts off with a bang. Well, actually, it’s almost like a gunshot going off and you see the bullet wound, but you don’t see the gun, hear the shot, or in fact even know it was a gunshot at all. You see the metaphoric blood seeping and are left wondering for three-quarters of the book, what on earth caused it?
There was a barbecue, you see, and something terrible happened. But what? All we know is that it’s thrown the lives of three very different couples and their families into disarray. You’ve got Erika and Oliver, the seemingly stuffy accountants. The happy-go-lucky musician Clementine and her husband Sam. Boisterous Vic and his sexy wife Tiffany. They weren’t really friends, but friends of friends. And the barbecue went well except for …
Yep. Folks, if you don’t like cliffhangers you’ll hate this book. It’s entirely one big fat giant cliffhanger. But Liane Moriarty weaves the story so well, you read it anyway.
The story is told from multiple POVs and snippets before and after the barbecue. By the end of it, you’re so embroiled in the characters lives that you find yourself in a place you didn’t expect, and sympathising with characters you didn’t quite like at the start. From the hoarder parent, to the ex-poledancer, I definitely think the female characters got more attention and there were a few unanswered questions with the men I would’ve liked to hear more about, but perhaps this would’ve made it too heavy.
From a writer’s point of view, I found the structure in this book fascinating. Moriarty doesn’t adhere to the usual three act linear structure, and there are scenes in there that definitely left me wondering, ‘what’s the point of this?’. But once I ended it, I discovered that it was as much a book about people as it was about what happened. A classic example of a character driven story. Read it if you feel you need help writing believable characters.
I give this book four out of five droplets.
Truly, Madly, Guilty comes out on July 20th in Australia. Visit the Pan Macmillan website for more details.