Recently I read two books that I found impossible to put down: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and After I’ve Gone by Linda Green.
Check out my reviews below to find out why I loved them so much!
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
’It had never crossed her mind that sending your child to school would be like going back to school yourself.’
Big Little Lies follows the lives of three women living in the same seaside town, and how their lives collide in dramatic fashion. Madeline has a happy life, with a loving husband and three beautiful children…if only it wasn’t for her ex-husband and his new wife moving to town and sending their own child to the same nursery as her own younger kids. Not to mention that these days her teenage daughter seems to prefer the father who abandoned her as a child to her own mother. Meanwhile Celeste seems to have everything: looks, money, and a good-looking, successful husband, but not everything is what it seems. Jane, meanwhile is a young single mother whose just moved to town, who is starting to have doubts about her own son…
This book first came into my consciousness when the TV series was released, and it started to get such incredibly positive reviews (and win so many awards!). I much prefer to read the book before I watch TV or movie adaptations, which is how this made it onto my TBR list.
And I absolutely loved it, when I finally got to it! This books wasn’t what I expected at all, in the best possible way. I had assumed that Big Little Lies was going to be a straight-up domestic drama, but there was also a huge element of mystery to it that I hadn’t expected. The first few pages sets up a tragedy that happens at the end of the story, and the rest of the story shows the six months prior to this, and how it came to that point. It was such an effective way of telling the story, because from the beginning I was literally dying to find out how everything had happened!
The book also tackled some pretty serious issues, and in such an effective way. I won’t say what issues specifically, so there isn’t any spoilers if you haven’t read the book, but I personally felt like they were well handled.
The three women at the centre of the story were all also very likeable and you really felt for them with their separate dilemmas. Whilst they’re all good friends, they are all separately trying to cope with their own issues and problems, and you kind of wished they would just share them with each other. Especially when you know that the story is essentially heading towards a terrible, terrible event…
Overall, this was an incredibly gripping book, with likeable, sympathetic characters and that didn’t shy away from serious issues. At the same time, there was some wonderful moments of humour in the book, and I loved Liane Moriarty’s writing style. I would definitely love to read more of her books soon! I’m also interested in seeing the TV adaptation now, to see how it compares. An incredible read, that I can’t recommend enough!
After I’ve Gone by Linda Green
‘I read Sadie’s post several times. And the comments below. People sending their love to her. Telling her to be strong. Saying how devastated Lee must be. And everyone thinking about ‘H’.’
Not long after meeting a handsome, seemingly sweet guy on the train to work, Jess Mount checks her Facebook profile, and gets a terrible shock. Her Facebook timeline seems to have fast-forwarded 18 months into the future, and tributes are pouring in after her sudden death. Amongst these tributes are photos of her ‘happy family’…the guy she just met, and her beautiful newborn son, and despite her shock, she falls hopelessly in love with her future son. However, when it starts to become clear that her death might not have been an accident after all, Jess realises that if she wants to change her future and live, her son might never come to exist…
This book was recommended to me by someone I work with, and I’m so glad that they did! I hadn’t heard of it before, but it turned out to be an amazing page-turner. I read it whilst I was off work, and couldn’t put it down, spending the best part of two days absolutely devouring it!
One of the things I loved most about the book was the concept. The idea of your Facebook account going into the future and showing you your fate is such a creepy idea, and it added a strange, supernatural element to what was otherwise a thriller. Especially as no one else could see it… It also made the book into more of a psychological thriller, as you wondered sometimes if it was all in Jess’s head.
The fact that it’s never really explained how this actually happens to her Facebook account is a little annoying, but also doesn’t really matter. It wasn’t important to the story how it was happening, just that it was, so I feel like the author got away without explaining it!
I also loved the character of Jess, as she was just so relatable (except for the whole future Facebook thing…). The way she spoke, and her voice in the first person narration sounded like it belonged to an actual person (including the Northern slang!), and her insecurities and past struggles with mental illness and bereavement are something I think a lot of people can relate to.
I also felt like the split narration with Lee’s mother Angela worked well, despite her parts being the duller of the two perspectives. It gave a good insight into the way Jess’s behaviour appears to people on the outside, who don’t know what she knows, and fills us in on Lee’s backstory.
Overall, I adored this book! Bits of it were hard to read, and I really, really felt for Jess throughout, but it was incredibly compelling and fast-paced. Even smaller details like the novel’s sense of place – it’s set in Leeds – was done perfectly, and much like Big Little Lies it took a serious topic and tackled it well. I really enjoyed this book, and really recommend it if you’re looking for a thriller, with a bit of a twist.
So have you read either of these books? If you have, what did you think? Has anyone watched the ‘Big Little Lies’ TV series?