Liane Moriarty’s book Truly, Madly, Guilty had the same effect on me that my best friend has when she wants to tell me a secret but keeps telling me I’ve got to keep it a secret before she will tell me what it is. You know how it goes:
‘I need to tell you something?’
‘Do you promise you’ll keep it a secret?’
‘Of course, now what it is?’
‘You’ve got to promise me you won’t say anything!’
‘For god’s sake woman I’ve said I won’t say, just tell me already!!’
It’s a skill I recognised with this author from the first novel I read by her; The Husband’s Secret.
The novel is set in Sydney, Australia and focuses on three couples. Erika and Oliver both come from difficult childhood backgrounds and find solace in each other and their organised efficiency. Clemetine is Erika’s best friend, a Cellist and married to Sam ‘a businessman’ with their two cutsey little children Holly and Ruby. Vid and Tiffany live next door to Erika and Oliver, Tiffany is gorgeous and tempting to all and Vid is a bouncy, loud and friendly character. They have a 10 year old daughter named Dakota and ooze wealth if not class in their castle-like mansion. The narration splits between each of the characters along with the occasional chapter from Dakota, Clementine’s mother Pam and the grumpy neighbour Harry. Interspersed between each chapter is a short chapter from ‘The Day of the Barbeque’ from each characters perspective.
The reader is straight away allerted to the fact that something terrible happened at the BBQ, something which has made the relationship between the characters tense. Its affecting the marriage of Sam and Clemetine as well as their friendship with the others. Dakota is blaming herself and punishing herself. Erika is desperate to remember what happened as her mind has gone blank. But the reader isn’t getting to find anything out. It is here that Truly, Madly, Guilty becomes a real page turner. Desperate to find out what happened at the BBQ and how it could possibly have affected them all so much I found myself racing through the chapters desperately trying to find out what the secret was, just like in a conversation with a friend.
This novel however does not get boring in the inbetween parts. Its an interesting look at the secrets different marriages hold, the private wishes and dreams and when the secret is finally revealed (after so many misleading clues) it doesnt stop there. There is far more revealed than just the main event itself. The true involvement of all the characters, the delicious gossipy secrets as if you’re looking through the keyhole is what makes Truly, Madly, Guilty a masterpiece of contemporary modern fiction.