Truly Madly Guilty
Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?
There’s something about Liane Moriarty. I’ve now read four books written by her (My Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot, Big Little Lies and this one) and even though I haven’t actually *looooved* all of them (except for BLL, which is still one of my favorites books ever), she manages to bring something unique to her stories that always makes me come back for more.
This is probably her “saddest” book yet, at least from the ones I’ve read. It’s not as funny as Big Little Lies (I missed those conversations at the end of each chapter) and it’s definitely not remotely similar to What Alice Forgot (which was more chick-lit), but Truly Madly Guilty still had clever dialogues and witty comebacks and you can definitely recognize her style within the pages.
So, what’s the story about? We know something terrible happened at a barbecue two months ago. And we know that because, for the first 60% of the book, all the characters keep mentioning that infamous event over and over again. “What if we’d said no?”,”What if I hadn’t invited them?”, “Please, don’t talk about that day” “That was the worst day of my life”. The story is told by different narrators, alternating chapters set in the present day with others that take place, of course, on THE DAY OF THE BARBECUE. Needless to say: don’t expect to discover what happened soon. I was anxious to know. Obviously, I had thought of every possible outcome and was wondering what was so terrible that no one wanted to talk about it.
The problem with these kinds of books where you’re expecting a surprising, unbelievable revelation is that after all the hype, the truth is probably going to disappoint you. And yes, that kind of happened here. The revelation wasn’t as shocking as I would’ve loved, but there were other things in the story that totally made up for it. It’s Liane Moriarty after all. And while the novel might revolve around something that happened at the barbecue, that’s not all what the book is about.
The characters are three young couples: Sam & Clementine have two daughters and are seen as carefree and easygoing. Vid & Tiffany are sociable and honest and have a 10 year-old daughter called Dakota. Finally, we have Erika & Oliver, who are more serious and mature and don’t really enjoy social situations. Clementine and Erika are supposed to be best friends… but are they, really? The book explores their toxic relationship and reflects on what makes a true friendship: Is it years of knowing each other? Is it knowing everything about each other? To be honest, I didn’t like them very much. My favorite character was Oliver: he was so nice that you wanted to hug him forever.
While I think this wasn’t as good as Big Little Lies, I still enjoyed quite a lot. The book was gripping and addictive, one of those you could never leave unfinished. The author is an expert at crafting multiple stories and making you think about what you’d do in certain situations. A contemporary drama about friendship, marriage and guilt. Totally recommended.
I received an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.