Last night, the seven-part miniseries of Big Little Lies
sadly reached an end, and critics all over the world are praising the brilliant HBO adaptation.
Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, and Laura Dern have delivered nuanced and compelling performances of the complex characters first introduced to us in Liane Moriarty’s book of the same title. Readers and TV watchers alike have fallen in love with these women and their seemingly idyllic yet quite insidious corner of the world, so it’s not a huge surprise that today many of us have woken up with big little holes in our lives now that the series is over.
If you haven’t read Big Little Lies
, now is the perfect time to do it, because although the miniseries was mostly faithful to the original subject material, there are differences between the book and the show. If you’ve already read it, we’ve got nine other books to recommend to you!
All of Liane Moriarty’s other books! Big Little Lies
was the sixth book Liane wrote, and she’s written a new one since then called Truly Madly Guilty
, but the five that came before it are absolutely worth checking out. In chronological publication order, they are Three Wishes
, The Last Anniversary
, The Hypnotist’s Love Story
, What Alice Forgot
, and The Husband’s Secret
Everything I Never Told You: A Novel by Celeste Ng.
Celeste Ng’s award-winning, best-selling debut novel is still one of our favourite domestic dramas. Much like Big Little Lies
, the story is told from multiple perspectives and focuses on the death of a young woman named Lydia. The crux of the story is of course to find out how Lydia came to end up at the bottom of the lake, but it’s the characters in Everything I Never Told You
that you’ll remember long after you finish reading the book.
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.
You really can’t beat books written by Australians about life in the Australian suburbs. In the award-winning The Slap
, a man slaps a child who is not his own at a barbecue, and the event has a shocking ricochet effect on the group of friends who are both directly and indirectly influenced by the slap. It’s told from the point of view of eight people (yes, there is definitely a theme here) who were present at the barbecue, and it’s a powerful and haunting novel about love, sex, marriage, parenting, children, and the fury and intensity that family can arouse.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.
On more than one occasion Jane Chapman reminded me of Lo Blacklock in Ruth Ware’s novel. Lo, a travel magazine journalist, receives the assignment of a lifetime: spending a week on a luxury cruise with a small number of other guests. The week starts well and Lo’s stay is pleasant, but as the voyage progresses it becomes apparent that something far darker and more sinister is lurking. Albeit with higher stakes, Lo’s plight to solve the mystery in The Woman in Cabin 10
is reminiscent of Jane’s plight to clear Ziggy’s name of wrongdoing when most people don’t trust or believe her.
The Dinner by Herman Koch.
Authors seem drawn to weaving misbehaving children into their stories, and The Dinner
tells the story of two brothers, their wives, and one unsettling dinner in Amsterdam. Each couple has a fifteen year-old son, and the two boys are united in their accountability for a single horrific act. As banal and trivial conversation topics end and the focus of the dinner conversation shifts to the children, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect the ones they love. These parents put Big Little Lies
’s Renata Klein to shame.
The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty.
Liane’s younger sister Nicola’s latest book The Fifth Letter
is another enjoyable exercise in Australian domestic drama where just enough of the story is revealed in each chapter to keep you hooked until the end. Four women who have been friends for many years go away on holiday, and in an effort to rekindle their bond they each write an anonymous letter revealing something the other women don’t know. A fifth letter, ineffectively disposed of, is found that suggests one of the women is harbouring a dangerous grudge against another member of the group, and as readers try to work out who wrote the fifth letter the friendship of the four women is tested to its limits. It’s a shade or two lighter than Liane’s novels, but every bit as gripping.
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
. What’s that, you want another book told in reverse about a shocking act? This is one for you. Ten years prior to the events of All the Missing Girls
, Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown of Cooley Ridge after her best friend Corinne disappeared. Nicolette returns to care for her ailing father, but within days of her return Corinne’s missing persons case is reopened when another young women, Annaleise, disappears. The story is told backwards – day 15 to day 1 – from the time Annaleise goes missing, and has more suspects and more red herrings than you’ll know what do with. It’s very, very good.
The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia.
While Big Little Lies
primarily concerns itself with the delights and horrors that come with adulthood, through Abigail’s character it also touches lightly on the awkward ‘not a child, but not an adult either’ teenage years. Mindy Mejia’s novel tackles this time in a young woman’s life head on. It opens with the murder of Hattie Hoffman, and it soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it?
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.
At some point during Big Little Lies
, all the major (and even some of the supporting) characters are hit with the realisation that their lives aren't turning out how they hoped they would, and Dear Committee Members
captures this emotion in a razor-sharp take on the epistolary novel. The story is told through a series of hilarious letters of recommendations that Jason Fitger, beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce. Each letter is a small masterpiece of resentment, passive aggression, and bleak spirits, and altogether they are nothing short of brilliant.
Are there any books that reminded you of Big Little Lies
that we've missed here? Leave us a comment and let us know!