cover image Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty, read by Caroline Lee. Penguin Audio, , unabridged, 13 CDs, 16 hrs., $39.95 ISBN 978-1-61176-286-0

An idyllic Australian seaside town is the setting for this frank and revealing story of domestic abuse, bullying, and infidelity centering on the lives of three wonderful women, acquainted through their young children. Reader Lee aptly portrays Madeline as the voice of reason amid schoolyard gossipers and rumormongers. Voiced as straight-talking, feisty, and loud, Madeline is struggling with her other daughter, a defiant teenager, a derelict ex-husband, and his new bohemian wife. Beautiful, distracted Celeste and her hedge fund husband have material riches, adorable twin boys, and a vile, toxic marriage. Celeste’s quiet, hesitant voice conveys the weight of her “secret shame.” Single mother Jane’s youth and vulnerability are palpable: “All around her was rich, vibrant color; she was the only colorless thing.” Controlling, alpha moms—“blond bobs”—provide comic relief to this cautionary tale of parents behaving badly. Lee’s lovely Australian accent is delightfully expressive; she skillfully balances a range of voices, thoughts, temperaments, and colloquialisms (“G’day, mate”) as characters wrestle with secrets, lies, power, violence, trust, and truth. A Putnam hardcover. (Aug.)