It’s New Title Tuesday and you will not want to miss Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty. I waited anxiously for the July release as I have been a fan since I first discovered her a few years ago. The Australian born author writes what she knows – parenthood, womanhood, friendship, marriage, and the gravity and humor embedded in ordinary daily life. It is no surprise each of her seven novels have become international best sellers.
Summary: 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?
In this and in her other novels, Moriarty creates fully formed characters then deftly peels off layer after layer revealing their flaws, fears, and fantasies to the reader. The result is a character driven plot that is relatable but never predictable. In Truly Madly Guilty, she explores the moment-to-moment fragility and risk in marriage, friendship, and parenting; what happens when relationships must be regularly recalibrated with the passage of time?
For example, although Clementine and Erika have been friends since childhood, Clementine harbors decades of resentment. She admits to herself what she often feels about Erika: “…the intense aggravation she had to work so hard to resist and conceal, the disappointment with herself, because Erika wasn’t evil or cruel or stupid, she was simply annoying, and Clementine’s response to her annoyingness was so completely disproportionate, it embarrassed and confounded her.”
In full disclosure, I listened to the audio version before picking up a hard copy. The talented narrator, Caroline Lee, provides a distinct and appropriate voice and inflection for each character. Lee brings to life the author’s depiction of the common but ludicrous futility of completing an adult conversation while very young children interrupt, whine, cajole, and demand that parents return all attention to them. Lee also dramatizes the terse monosyllabic responses that stab through tension riddled silences couples inflict on each other when conflicts aren’t resolved or forgiven. And she does it all with a charming Aussie accent. (The audio book can be borrowed through our online service 3M)
Whether you read it or listen to it, Truly Madly Guilty provides a satisfying and entertaining study of modern family life.
Also by Liane Moriarty:
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read.
What Alice Forgot Alice wakes up in the hospital believing she’s 29 only to realize she has no memory of the last ten years or how her life took such as detour.
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