What Alice Forgot PDF Summary

What Alice Forgot PDF SummaryWhat if you suddenly forget everything about the last ten years of your life?

Would you be able to understand how you got to where you are?

And would you be happy with your life?

Liane Moriarty tries to answer these questions in

What Alice Forgot.

Who Should Read “What Alice Forgot”? And Why?

If you’ve read and enjoyed The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies, What Alice Forgot may disappoint you a bit. But still, you’ll find many Moriarty-worthy things to enjoy here.

However, if instead of gripping thrillers, you enjoy memory-related romantic comedies such as While You Were Sleeping and The Vow, or 13 Going on 30 and 50 First Dates, you’ll enjoy What Alice Forgot even more!

Liane Moriarty Biography

Liane MoriartyLiane Moriarty is an Australian author.

After a decade-long career in advertising, she published her first novel, Three Wishes, in 2004, and her second, The Last Anniversary, two years later.

What Alice Forgot was published in 2010 and was a relative success at the time, just like The Hypnotist’s Love Story which came out one year later.

However, it was Moriarty’s fifth novel, The Husband’s Secret, which brought her international acclaim, making to the top of both The USA Today and The New York Times bestseller lists; soon, CBS Films acquired the rights for the book: the movie (starring Blake Lively) should come out during the next year.

Moriarty’s sixth novel, Big Little Lies, debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller and remained there for quite some time; in 2017, it was adapted into an award-winning HBO series, starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.

Kidman and Witherspoon have already bought the rights for Moriarty’s 2016 novel, Truly Madly Guilty; her last novel, Nine Perfect Strangers, was published in September 2018.

Find out more at http://lianemoriarty.com.au/


The Hit

What Alice Forgot begins with the protagonist of the novel – who but Alice? – obsessing in bed over how much of her life should change now that she is pregnant.

A burst of memories follows, and suddenly she is in the gym, having no idea how she got there. Alice is all but sure that this has to be some kind of a mistake because she is not exactly someone who regularly visits the gym.

However, no matter how much she tries to get some information from the other people there, she is merely growing more and more confused.

Eventually, we realize that she has hit her head while peddling on an exercise bike. Which is why soon paramedics arrive. They ask Alice some basic questions so as to see if she has suffered a concussion. One of them refers to her age.

Alice says she is 29.

Probably while the paramedics are wondering to what extent is Alice delusional, a friend of hers joins in the discussion and says that Alice is, in fact, a decade older: she should turn 40 later during the year.

However, as far as Alice is concerned, that cannot be, since it is not 2008; but 1998! In other words, the hit cost Alice all of her memories from the past ten years!

Which is why she doesn’t understand what she is doing at the gym, in the first place; namely, as opposed to the 40-year-old Alice, her 29-year-old version wasn’t much of a gym person.

The Confusion

But, of course, the visit to the gym is the slightest of Alice’s problems now.

Since she can’t remember anything from the past ten years, she has problems understanding who is she – and how did she become the person she is!

That introductory image of her lying pregnant in bed?

Well, that’s her at 29, married to the love of her life, Nick, and waiting for a baby.

And her life now at 40?

Definitely not pregnant anymore – one of the first things she checks – and in the process of divorcing Nick.

But why?

She has only fond memories of him. And whatever happened to her baby?

Alice checks her body more thoroughly and notices a scar on her stomach. The doctors – she is now in the hospital – inform her that it is from when they had to cut her baby out of her because she wasn’t open enough to be able to squeeze it.

And that’s only one of her three pregnancies!

Apparently, Alice is now a mother of one boy, Tom, and two girls, Olivia and Madison.


Alice manages to get in touch with Elizabeth, her older sister. She is, we learn, incredibly close to her.

Elizabeth appears at the hospital but doesn’t seem too happy about doing that; if anything, she seems as if a distant acquaintance. Clearly, something has happened between the two sisters in the decade which Alice has forgotten.

And we’re about to find out: Elizabeth takes Alice home and brings her up to date.

The Lost Decade

So, here are some of the things which happened in the meantime; and some which are happening at the time.

Interestingly enough, one of the first things we learn from Elizabeth is that Nick’s father, Roger, has married Alice’s mother.

That surprised us. You can only imagine what it does to Alice.

But it’s merely the beginning.

As expected, at first, all things were more than great between Nick and Alice; and then Alice became a mother.

Unable to juggle between her career and her children, Alice started feeling cornered (not to mention overwhelmed) by the expectations hovering over her new job as a mother.

Nick tries to offer some support – but it’s far from enough.

The lovers grow distant over the next few years; and then, they start hating each other. In fact, they are not only in the middle of a divorce but also at the heart of a spiteful and savage custody battle.

Meanwhile, Alice is so consumed with her own problems, that she completely disregards Elizabeth’s.

And Elizabeth does have some serious problems of her own.

Namely, she is trying to have a child with her husband, Ben, for more than seven years. However, she suffers quite a few miscarriages, and each of them leads to an episode of severe depression.

We find out more about them from Elizabeth’s long letters to her psychiatrist.

Elizabeth’s Letters to Her Psychiatrist

Most of these talk about Elizabeth’s unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant.

At first, it’s because of Ben. We don’t know why, but he cannot get her pregnant. Naturally, Elizabeth and Ben try to get all the help they can and they go to a lab. Since artificial insemination wouldn’t work, they opt for in vitro fertilization.

Elizabeth does get pregnant now, but for some reason, her body keeps rejecting the babies and starts killing them one after another.

This is what causes her recurring bouts with depression. And, of course, they lead to a host of marriage problems with Ben. And, of course, the problems worsen her depression.

It’s a vicious circle Elizabeth is unable to get out of. Unfortunately, Alice is never around for her. True, she has a family of her own and some severe problems herself, but, unlike her, Elizabeth tries to help her from time to time.

Alice can’t believe what she’s hearing.

She has obviously become someone she didn’t want to.

And she wants to make amends big time.

Questions Abound: Gina, Nick and Dominick

In the meantime, Alice gets some of her memories back, and she remembers a mysterious woman named Gina.

It is obvious to her that she was a big part of her life, but it is not exactly obvious how.

So, she starts asking around – family members and friends – about the identity of Gina. Interestingly enough, nobody will tell her anything significant about her; better live it that way, they say – it’s less hurtful.

And it seems that nobody wants to tell her anything significant about her marriage problems as well.

Even though all she finds out about Nick is that he wasn’t around her as much as necessary, people tell her that once she gets her memory back, she will not be able to stay with Nick – or even forgive him.

Apparently, all of their marriage problems owed their origins to one thing, though we are not informed what that one thing is.

You can’t blame Alice for thinking that this mysterious one thing must have something to do with the other mysterious thing on her mind: Gina.

She puts 2 and 2 together and comes to the conclusion that Nick must have cheated on her with Gina.

However, a message she gets on her phone reveals that she may be the one cheating on him.

It’s from Madison’s principal, Dominick, saying that they should “do it again” soon.

There’s no mystery here whatsoever: the message means exactly what you think it means. Apparently, Alice has already started seeing other people, even though her divorce is not finalized yet.

Elizabeth’s Pregnancy

Meanwhile, Elizabeth gets pregnant again.

She is, understandably, both happy and anxious about it.

Her worst fears seem to realize when she starts bleeding one day between her legs. But this time Alice is around for her to alleviate the pain.

Fortunately, it turns out to be nothing serious, and, even more fortunately, Elizabeth eventually gives birth to a healthy girl.


Finally, her life seems fulfilled.

And her marriage is back on its track.

So much so that she and Ben decide to stay away from the risk of further pregnancies (they want a big family) and adopt three Vietnamese kids.

And then, while caring for her adopted children, Elizabeth comes to a simple, but valuable and life-affirming realization:

We should have given up years ago. It’s so clear now. We should have ‘explored other options.’ We should have adopted. We gave up years of our lives and we very nearly destroyed our marriage. Our happy ending could have and should have arrived so much sooner. And even though I adore the fact that Francesca has Ben’s eyes, I also see now that her biological connection to us is irrelevant.

Alice’s Memory Returns

Suddenly, Alice gets her memory back.

And she also realizes something simple and valuable.

Interestingly enough, this realization doesn’t come out of a resolution of the mysteries we left you with above; on the contrary, it comes from the lack of such a thing.

Namely, Nick wasn’t having an affair with Gina.

Gina was actually Alice’s best friend who, unfortunately, passed away after a tree fell on her. She and Alice were close; however, this closeness was the reason why Alice and Elizabeth drifted apart.

It was also one of the reasons why she and Nick started arguing.

You see, Gina’s marriage fell apart at the time Alice’s went into parenthood mode. Almost naturally, Alice started feeling envious of her friend’s freedom and lifestyle. Also, she started getting insecure about her own future.

But nothing more than that ever happened.

Indeed, the only other reason (the main one, in fact) why Alice and Nick’s marriage is in shambles is the one everybody was telling her all the time.

Simply put, Nick wasn’t around her enough of the time.

But, really, is that enough of a reason to separate from someone you loved so much just a few years ago?

What Alice Forgot Epilogue

No, it’s not.

So, Alice breaks things off with Dominick and gives her marriage one more chance.

Years later, she and Nick reconcile their differences.

And she is once again as happy and as in love as when she was 29 years old.

Even better, in fact!

She’s happier:

She had always thought that exquisitely happy time at the beginning of her relationship with Nick was the ultimate, the feeling they’d always be trying to replicate, to get back, but now she realized that was wrong. That was like comparing sparkling mineral water to French champagne. Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It’s light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But love after three children, after a separation and a near – divorce, after you’ve hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you’ve seen the worst and the best – well, that sort of a love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.

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“What Alice Forgot PDF Summary Quotes”

But maybe every life looked wonderful if all you saw was the photo albums. Click To Tweet The medication, the hormones and the relentless frustrations of our lives make us bitchy and you're not allowed to be bitchy in public or people won't like you. Click To Tweet She was busy thinking about the concept of forgiveness. It was such a lovely, generous idea when it wasn't linked to something awful that needed forgiving. Click To Tweet Just because a marriage ended didn't mean that it hadn't been happy at times. Click To Tweet How strange it all was. Wouldn't it be a lot less messy if everyone just stayed with the people they married in the first place? Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

What Alice Forgot is engaging and entertaining romantic comedy, both funny and thought-provoking.

However, we feel that it lacks some of the drama and all of the dark elements which made The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies such unputdownable hits all but ready for the big screen.

And also: at 500 pages, it may be a bit long for its own sake.

Not that you won’t be able to finish it or anything; it’s just that you might enjoy some parts much more than other.

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The Husband’s Secret Summary

The Husband's Secret SummaryA Novel

Sometimes secrets have the power to ruin lives.

Regardless of whether someone discloses them or not.

In the case of this novel, the well-being of three women rests on one secret.

The Husband’s Secret.

Who Should Read “The Husband’s Secret”? And Why?

Did you watch the first season of Big Little Lies and – just like about everyone (it holds 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes) – liked it so much that you can’t wait for the second season?

Well, Liane Moriarty wrote the novel upon which the TV show was based. (At least so far: we have no idea what will happen in the second season, but it’s definitely going to be something which is not in the book).

One year before authoring Big Little Lies, Moriarty published The Husband’s Secret. Unsurprisingly, the two books share many of the same topics: the interconnected lives of three women, familial problems, interspousal betrayals, murder…

You know all the things you liked about Big Little Lies.

If so, trust us, you’re going to like The Husband’s Secret as well.

And maybe, just maybe, even more.

Liane Moriarty Biography

Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty is a bestselling Australian author.

She embarked on a career as a writer, after working for some time as a copywriter at an advertising company.

In 2004, she published her debut novel, Three Wishes, after which The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot and The Hypnotist’s Love Story followed.

It was, however, Moriarty’s fifth novel, The Husband’s Secret – published in 2013 – that brought her international acclaim.

Unsurprisingly, her next novel, Big Little Lies, debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list the next year; HBO adapted it into an award-winning miniseries in 2017 (starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley).

Since 2014, Moriarty has written two more novels: Truly Madly Guilty and Nine Perfect Strangers.

Find out more at http://lianemoriarty.com.au/


The Husband’s Secret is a story about a prematurely read letter; and the three women whose lives interlink once the secret specified in that letter is suddenly discovered:

None of us ever know all the possible courses our lives could have and maybe should have taken. It’s probably just as well. Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever. Just ask Pandora.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick

Cecilia Fitzpatrick is a happily married mother of three who, by the looks of it, has it all figured out. However, at the beginning of the novel, she is distraught and anxious about something.

Namely, sitting at the kitchen table, Cecilia wonders if she should read the unopened letter in front of her. It’s from her husband John-Paul, and it explicitly states that it mustn’t be opened before his death:

My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

So, it’s that serious!

One thing, though, thinks Cecilia: “How exactly was she meant to have found this letter if he had died? She might never have found it!”

In fact, even now she managed to find it merely by accident. It was her daughter Esther’s remark about the Berlin Wall at breakfast that inspired her to rummage through the attic to find the piece of the Wall she had kept there ever since her travels as a young girl.

But, now the Berlin Wall seems like something utterly unimportant.

What is she supposed to do with this letter?

Tess O’Leary

Tess O’Leary has a severe husband-problem of her own.

She has just discovered that her partner, Will, has feelings for her cousin, Felicity. And that the two plan to move in together – into their very home.

Supposedly, this should be good for Tess and Will’s young son, Liam; in fact, Will believes that such a move should help Liam deal with the change in a much more relaxed manner.

Tess, understandably, doesn’t share his feelings. In her mind, she and Liam must get away from the chaos as soon as possible.

And they do: they go to Sydney, to stay with Tess’s mother.

It’s a nice arrangement since Tess’s mother has recently broken her ankle, and she could use the help around.

And Tess – well, she could use the break.

Rachel Crowley

Rachel Crowley is the least happy of the three women: almost all of the people she loved in her life are dead.

That’s not only true for her parents and her husband but, also, unfortunately, for her daughter, Janie as well, murdered brutally back in 1984.

Ever since then, Rachel has been living a half-life, finding some happiness only in caring for her grandson, Jacob.

However, at the beginning of the novel, her son Rob informs her that he and his family are planning to move to New York.

It seems like excellent news at first glance, but it is not for Rachel; she is visibly upset because she feels as if the last piece of cheerfulness is being taken away from her life.

Cecilia and John-Paul

Cecilia decides not to open the letter before calling her husband and telling him about it.

John-Paul asks from her not to read it. Even though he is a bit unclear as to why, Cecilia tells him that he will respect his wishes. They will talk things out when he gets home.

However – being merely a human being – deep down inside her she desperately wants to; because – once again, being a human – she is afraid that the secret the letter is hiding includes another woman.

When you take into consideration the fact that Cecilia and John-Paul haven’t had sex in a while now, her fears seem even more justified.

The Connection

Tess is about to enroll her son Liam into school when she bumps into Cecilia.

We find out that the two women know each other: they are old school acquaintances. And their children will probably be able to say the same in many years’ time, since Tess is enrolling Liam at the very same school where Polly, Cecilia’s daughter, currently goes.

And Rachel is the secretary at the school.

Things are starting to connect.

Connor Whitby

As Rachel is meeting Tess and Liam for the first time, Connor Whitby enters the office.

Connor is the Physical Education teacher at the school and is obviously not Rachel’s favorite person. And their animosity dates back to 1984 when the sergeant working on the case of Rachel’s murdered daughter maintained that Connor was lying about something.

In Rachel’s mind, that can only mean one thing: he has something to do with her daughter’s murder.

Flashback cut:

Rachel was supposed to take her chronically exhausted daughter Janie to a doctor the night she disappeared.

However, she instead went to Connor’s house after which she headed straight to the railway station.

And that’s the last place anyone ever saw her.

Back in the present, Rachel uncovers an old recording. It is of a video discussion between Janie and Connor which ends with a bit of an argument.

Rachel believes that this is not only new but decisive evidence in the case.

The Secret of the Letter

John-Paul returns home, and he and Cecilia passionately make love.

And all’s well until Cecilia wakes up in the middle of the night to hear footsteps in the attic. She realizes that whatever’s in the letter is so incriminating that John-Paul wants to do away with it immediately.

So, she heads to her office where she had put the letter after finding it.

And decides to read it.

It’s a confession: John-Paul admits in it that he was the man who killed Janie Crowley back in 1984.

Cecilia immediately confronts John-Paul; and John-Paul hides nothing.

He was deeply in love with Janie, and when she asked him to meet her the night of the murder, he excepted to be told that she is ready to take their relationship to the next level.

Instead, she told him that she was in love with someone else and that she wants to end it.

John-Paul couldn’t bear the pain and choked Janie to death, placing his mother’s rosary beads in her hands and immediately fleeing the scene.

He wasn’t found, and he wants some help from Cecilia not to be found in the future as well.

“Can you stay with me now, after finding out my darkest secret?” – John-Paul asks Cecilia.

At that moment, Polly comes in and “Yes” is the only thing Cecilia is able to utter.

Cecilia’s Torments

However, all hell is happening inside her head.

And when she happens upon Tess and Rachel at the school, she is so deeply affected that she faints. Tess takes her home, and she returns later to the school to fetch Polly’s shoes as well. There she meets Connor and flirts with him. He invites her on a date. And she agrees.

Meanwhile, John-Paul’s mother arrives for a visit to Cecilia’s house, and Cecilia brings up the topic of Janie’s murder.

To her amazement, John-Paul’s mother already knows her son’s secret. However, she advises Cecilia to act like her and keep it a secret still because its disclosure would help nobody. It won’t bring back Janie, but it will destroy John-Paul’s, hers and their children’s ­lives entirely.

Tess and Connor

Tess and Connor have an exceptional date which ends with an intimate rendezvous: both in physical and in a spiritual sense.

In other words: after they have sex, they tell each other their deepest secrets. Tess that she has marriage problems and that her husband wants to live with her cousin; and Connor that he was a suspect in the case of Janie Crowley’s murder.

Even though Connor fears that this is one secret he could have kept to himself, Tess stands by him, telling him that she believes that he is innocent.

Of course she does: she knows him for exactly one day!

Cecilia and Rachel

Rachel, however, knows Connor for a lot longer and she has a very different idea.

And when Cecilia comes over to her house to deliver her some Tupperware (there’s Tupperware everywhere in the novel!), she tells her that she’s very close to catching Janie’s killer, having uncovered some new evidence.

Cecilia, however, couldn’t possibly know that Rachel is referring to Connor and the videotape, and when she comes home, she tells John-Paul about this.

He convinces her that if such a thing ever happens (i.e., if there’s new evidence that involves him), he would turn himself in immediately.

Tess and Felicity

In the meantime, Tess is doing her best to forget about Will, a. k. a. she spends a lot of her time with Connor. At one point, Connor even invites her and Liam to fly a kite together; and, in spite of the fact that her mother objects, Tess accepts the invitation.

However, just before the kite-flying, the doorbell rings and Tess is shocked to find Felicity on the other side of the door.

Felicity tells her that Will is sad and that the moment she and Liam left Melbourne, his feelings toward her suddenly cooled off.

Who cares about that? – basically replies Tess; how will I ever be able to forgive either one of you too?

At that moment Tess realizes that because of her conversation with Felicity, she completely forgot about the kite-flying arrangement with Connor!

And there…

The Husband’s Secret Epilogue

There are John-Paul, Cecilia, and their daughters, riding bikes. Polly notices her teacher Connor in the distance, and she starts biking faster to reach him.

At the very same moment, Rachel is driving home from the police station, angered by the fact that the video conversation between Janie and Connor is not accepted as evidence. She notices Connor holding a kite; infuriated by the sight, she accelerates her car in his direction.

However, instead of hitting him – she hits Polly!

Polly survives the accident, but is badly hurt; so much, in fact, that she needs to have her arm amputated!

Distraught at what she had done, Rachel confesses that her plan was to kill Connor in retaliation for Janie. Cecilia can’t bear the burden of her secret anymore and tells Rachel that John-Paul is the real murderer.

John-Paul comes clean before Rachel as well; however, Rachel is incapable of doing nothing other than promising not to press charges – especially now when Polly needs her father more than ever.

In the meantime, Will and Tess decide to give their marriage one more chance – for the sake of Liam who adores his father.

The real secret of the book is revealed in the epilogue and is one – we are told – none of the characters will ever learn.

Namely, Janie wasn’t killed by anyone.

She didn’t die from asphyxiation but from an aortic aneurysm.

Her serious medical condition was the cause for her tiredness, which was the reason why she was supposed to go to the doctor the night she disappeared.

As we already know, she never made it to the doctor.

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“The Husband’s Secret Summary Quotes”

Falling in love was easy: anyone could fall. It was holding on that was tricky. Click To Tweet You’ve been here before. It won’t kill you. It feels like you can’t breathe, but you actually are breathing. It feels like you’ll never stop crying, but you actually will. Click To Tweet Marriage was a form of insanity; love hovering permanently on the edge of aggravation. Click To Tweet You could try as hard as you could to imagine someone else’s tragedy – drowning in icy waters, living in a city split by a wall – but nothing truly hurts until it happens to you. Most of all, to your child. Click To Tweet She longed to feel something momentous. Sometimes her life seemed so little. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Both Entertainment Weekly and People chose The Husband’s Secret as one of the ten best books of 2013. And if you ask us – it’s even better than Big Little Lies.

Honestly, we planned to reserve this section for a plea toward some Hollywood executive to buy the rights for this novel.

Fortunately, it turned out that CBS Films have been a few steps ahead of us. Even more fortunately, they chose Blake Lively to star in the movie adaptation.

That’s excellent casting: she should be a great Cecilia!

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Big Little Lies Book Summary

Big Little Lies Book SummaryAs everybody knows, sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…

So, they are not exactly little.

But, when it all starts, they are not that big either.

So, let’s just call them:

Big Little Lies.

Who Should Read “Big Little Lies”? And Why?

“A brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive,” Big Little Lies should disappoint no one.

Especially not women.

But read it if you are a man, nevertheless.

Liane Moriarty Biography

Liane MoriartyLiane Moriarty is a bestselling Australian author.

She spent some time working as a copywriter at an advertising company before embarking on a career as a writer.

In 2004, she published her first novel, Three Wishes, written so as to obtain a master’s degree in creative writing at Macquarie University.

The Last Anniversary followed two years later, after which What Alice Forgot and The Hypnotist’s Love Story came out.

In 2013, Moriarty’s fifth novel, The Husband’s Secret, made both The New York Times and The USA Today bestseller lists; the rights to the novel were soon acquired by CBS Films, and a Blake Lively-starring thriller is already in production.

Big Little Lies – which debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list in 2014 – was adapted last year into an award-winning HBO miniseries, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

The two have already optioned the rights for Truly Madly Guilty, which was published in 2016.

Moriarty’s last novel, Nine Perfect Strangers, came out just last month, September 2018.

Find out more at http://lianemoriarty.com.au/


Big Little Lies opens with two very interesting and thought-provoking epigraphs.

The first one is a schoolyard chant you’re probably already familiar with: “You hit me, you hit me, now you have to kiss me.” The second is a pledge and promise by the Pirriwee Public School:

Pirriwee Public School
. . . where we live and learn by the sea!
Pirriwee Public is a BULLY-FREE ZONE!
We do not bully.
We do not accept being bullied.
We never keep bullying a secret.
We have the courage to speak up if we see our friends bullied.
We say NO to bullies!

And, of course, there’s a reason for both of these epigraphs.

Chapter 1

Not the least because the book begins at Pirriwee Public School where the parents of the children who go there participate in a fundraising trivia night.

However, this is not just an ordinary trivia party. Namely, it’s an “Audrey and Elvis” trivia night, which means that all the women present are dressed up as Audrey Hepburn, and all the men are dressed up as Elvis Presley.

Obviously, this means that it’s kind of hard to realize who’s talking to who and what exactly is going on there. And then, an Elvis punches another Elvis across the jaw, and he falls into an Audrey. Two other Elvises pull him away. An Audrey buries her face in her hands and turns aside.

And as someone is shouting “Stop this!” and another one is wondering whether to call the police, a siren is heard wailing in the distance.

Also – a scream. And another. And another. It seems that they are all coming from a nearby balcony.

Then we hear everyone blabbering about things as confusing and diverse as the American spelling of “mum” and helicopter parenting, the Erotic Book Club and French nannies.

Suddenly, Detective-Sergeant Adrian Quinlan utters a chilling sentence: “Let me be clear: This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.”

So, apparently, someone – presumably, one of the parents – has died.

However, Moriarty doesn’t tell us who. Instead, she goes back in time to tell the whole story.

Chapter 2 – Chapter 70: The Six Months Before Trivia Night

The second chapter begins at the fortieth birthday of Madeline Martha Mackenzie as she is driving to Pirriwee school to take Chloe, her five-year-old daughter, to her orientation day.

However, at a red light, she has a slight mishap: she goes out of the car, and as she runs back to the driver’s seat, she trips.

Jane Chapman, a single mother of another five-year-old, Ziggy, happens to be in the car behind her. She goes over to help her and the two strike a friendship.

Soon, Jane meets Celeste Wright, a friend of Madeline and mother of two twin children – Josh and Max.

Madeline, Jane, and Celeste become inseparable. Their goal – to become the new Blond Bobs, the mums who “rule the school” with their perfect haircuts (hence the name) and their horrendously gifted children.

The Blond Bobs are “mum prefects,” explains Madeline. “They feel very strongly about their roles as school mums. It’s like their religion. They’re fundamentalist mothers.”

However, all is not well beneath the surface. In quite a short period of time, we learn that, unfortunately, all of these women have to struggle with some significant problems in their lives.

1. Madeline’s Two Marriages

Madeline’s problem seems to be the least serious one.

An alpha female with substantial wealth and strong will, she is married to the dedicated and steadfast Ed. Chloe is one of the two children from that marriage, the other being Fred.

However, Madeline is also mother to teenage Abigail, whose father Nathan abandoned them when she was an infant. The problem is that now Abigail, for some reason, is growing too close to Bonnie, Nathan’s new wife.

2. The Price for Celeste’s “Perfect” Life

Moving on to Celeste.

As Jane realizes from her first meeting with her, she is “so unacceptably, hurtfully beautiful, it [makes] you feel ashamed.” However, the fact that she is exactly like a woman should look like doesn’t mean that her life is exactly like a woman’s life should be.

On the contrary, in fact.

You see, just like Rupi Kaur warns in one of her poems, she has somehow confused anger with kindness. And even though her life seems perfect on the surface, she is in fact continually beaten up and abused by her wealthy husband, Perry Wright.

And she puts up with it.

Possibly because she has developed some form of the Stockholm syndrome. Possibly because she loves her husband so much. Or maybe because we grow up with life lessons such as the one shared by the schoolyard song Moriarty uses as an epigraph to her book.

“No one deserves to live like this,” Celeste’s counselor Susi says at one point.

What does she know? – thinks Celeste. After all, she hasn’t seen the whole of their lives:

She hadn’t seen the expression on the boys’ faces when Perry spun his crazy stories about early-morning flights across the ocean. ‘You can’t really fly, Daddy. Can he fly, Mummy? Can he?’ She hadn’t seen Perry rap-dancing with his kids or slow-dancing with Celeste on their balcony, the moon sitting low in the sky, shining on the sea as if it were there just for them.

‘It’s almost worth it,’  she’d told Susi.

Perhaps it was even fair. A little violence was a bargain price for a life that would otherwise be just too sickeningly, lavishly, moonlit perfect.

So then what the hell was she doing here, secretly planning her escape route like a prisoner?

3. Jane’s Painful Trauma

Jane, a new arrival in Pirriwee, has a terrible secret of her own. Namely, she doesn’t want anyone to know what happened on the night her son Ziggy was conceived. Spoiler alert: she was basically raped as a 19-year-old girl by a guy named Saxon Banks.

Yes, she was there to have sex with him. And yes: she did not change her mind and did not say “no” when it all started. In fact, “she helped him take her clothes off” and “giggled like an idiot” throughout.

However, instead of replying “yes” to Jane’s murmur “condom?” Saxon started choking her and convincing her that it’s fun: “You’ll like it. It’s a rush. Like cocaine.”

He backed off after some time.

But then it got worse:

He positioned her underneath him and shoved himself inside her as if he were operating some sort of basic machinery, and as he moved, he put his mouth close to her ear and he said things: an endless stream of casual cruelty that slid straight into her head and curled up, wormlike, in her brain.

‘You’re just a fat ugly little girl, aren’t you? With your cheap jewelry and your trashy dress. Your breath is disgusting, by the way. Need to learn some dental hygiene. Jesus. Never had an original thought in your life, have you? Want a tip? You’ve got to respect yourself a bit more. Lose that weight. Join a gym… Stop the junk food. You’ll never be beautiful, but at least you won’t be fat.’

Jane didn’t resist in any way, silently agreeing with everything. “When he rolled off her,” says the novel, “she didn’t move. It was as though her body didn’t belong to her anymore, as though she’d been anesthetized.”

4. The Intertwining of the Stories

Jane shares her traumatic sexual experience with Celeste and Madeline. Interestingly, the two know exactly who Saxon Banks is: a cousin of Perry, Celeste’s husband.

However, in order to protect Jane from further pain, Celeste and Madeline decide to keep this a secret from her; at least for the time being.

Things go from bad to worse when Ziggy is accused of biting and choking Amabella, a classmate of his. While interrogating him, Jane realizes that it is not him who has done the bullying, but Max, one of Celeste’s twins.

Now, Jane too has a secret she doesn’t know how to break to Celeste.

Meanwhile, Celeste’s marriage deteriorates even more. So, she starts renting an apartment for herself, so that she has a place where she can hide from Perry.

Chapters 70 – Chapter 78: Trivia Night

The “Audrey and Elvis” Trivia Night arrives.

On that very night, Josh tells Celeste that it is his brother Max – and not Jane’s Ziggy – who is bullying the other children.

And Celeste realizes that Max too is confusing love and violence, mimicking the behavior of his father. There’s no way back: Celeste has no other option but to leave Perry. Perry, in the meantime, finds out about Celeste’s secret apartment.

When the two – visibly shaken – arrive at Trivia Night, Jane sees Perry and recognizes him as the man who had raped her.

Perry doesn’t deny this: so as to avoid trouble for himself, he admits to having used his cousin’s name on several occasions such as the one described by Jane.

And he shows no remorse for it. Instead, in the argument which follows, he hits Celeste.

Enraged and out of nowhere, Bonnie – Madeline’s ex-husband Nathan’s new wife – pushes Perry from the balcony.

And now you know: he is the parent who dies in Chapter 1.

Big Little Lies Epilogue

Madeline soon learns the real cause of Bonnie’s actions: she had an abusive father; the argument simply brought to her mind unwanted and repressed memories.

Everyone who has witnessed the event decides to lie in her favor. Everybody thinks that she doesn’t deserve to suffer for killing a man like Perry.

However, Bonnie turns herself in. Fortunately, she is merely sentenced to two hundred hours of community service.

A year later, Celeste works at a family law firm. She has set a trust fund for Ziggy and found a new meaning in her life. Namely: to share her story.

At a public event, she introduces it with five straightforward words:

This can happen to anyone.

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“Big Little Lies Book Summary Quotes”

They say it's good to let your grudges go, but I don't know, I'm quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet. Click To Tweet All conflict can be traced back to someone’s feelings getting hurt, don’t you think? Click To Tweet Reading a novel was like returning to a once-beloved holiday destination. Click To Tweet Those we love don’t go away, they sit beside us every day. Click To Tweet Nothing and nobody could aggravate you the way your child could aggravate you. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Liane Moriarty knows how to tell a story. Especially if it is one about suburbias, secrets, and sex.

And a hurting woman.

This novel – just like The Husband’s Secret – has three.

And they are all carefully and compassionately portrayed, their lives intertwined within a disturbing story told with a lot of style and humor (yes, humor!)

Funny and scary, Big Little Lies is a hell of a good book.

And no – those are not our words.

They are Stephen King’s.


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