Sunday, April 9, 2017

Big Little Lies - Book/TV Review & Comparison

Author: Liane Moriarity

Genre: Drama

My Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads. Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest. And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. Big Little Lies is 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.

My Thoughts: I have had this book sitting on my shelf since it was released. My mom had borrowed my copy and had loved it, but I just never got around to reading it. With the HBO miniseries coming out, I figured it was time I read it in preparation (like all good book nerds, I like to read the book before I see the adaptation). With that being said, I regret letting this book sit on my shelves for so long because it was SO GOOD. I wouldn't exactly call Big Little Lies a psychological thriller, but fans of that genre will like this book. There's a mystery that is presented at the beginning of the novel and unraveling the clues and plot twists along the way was just so much fun. This book also presents realistic life and familial issues. The darker topics dealt within this book, such as domestic abuse and rape, were handled with such phenomenal class and ease. Those moments in the book made me feel so uncomfortable, but they were necessary to the story and provided the backstory that the reader needed to create their own conclusions about what happens at trivia night. Overall, I would highly recommend this novel to just about anyone.

Network: HBO

Genre: Drama

My Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: See above

My Thoughts: First off, can we applaud this cast? This HBO miniseries had a phenomenal cast... every single person. With a cast filled with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgard, Adam Scott, Zoe Kravitz, and Laura Dern... where could you go wrong? And go wrong it didn't. Big Little Lies was a pleasure, with twists that even surprised a book reader like myself. Even though the pace was a little slow at times, I never found myself bored. This miniseries was the perfect example of how a drama about people should be made. No special effects, no super powers... just real life people. I feel like we don't get a whole lot of shows or movies anymore that just focus on people and the problems in their lives.

While this TV adaptation kept faithful to the book, I do think it added to the book in a positive way (for the most part). The lives of these women were expanded and complicated in ways that didn't seem overly dramatic or unrealistic. This seemed to be especially true when it came to the sensitive topics of rape and domestic abuse. Reading about these moment was one thing, but seeing them acted out was so disturbing and uncomfortable to watch. It felt so much more real and raw. It was in these moments that the actors, Nicole Kidman specifically, really shined. Finally, let's talk about the mystery. This miniseries kept the aspect that I loved most about the book. We know that someone dies, but we don't know who died or who killed them. In the book, the mystery seemed obvious to me. However, with all the extra content that the show added, there were several times that I thought maybe they would go a different direction. I was kept on my toes until the moment when we see the death and I loved how I was never sure what would happen.

Overall, I am so happy that HBO went forward with this miniseries and respected the book content the way that it did. It was a beautiful and heartbreaking story, but it also had many laughs. The cast really makes this show what it is. Without a doubt, I see this show and some of the actors being nominated during Emmy season, and deservedly so. Anyone who is a fan of family dramas or murder mysteries will love this show. I HIGHLY recommend it!

For a more spoiler breakdown of the differences between the book and the TV show, please check out EW's amazing article.
12 Differences Between the "Big Little Lies" Book and Show

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