Jody and I are self-confessed Liane Moriarty fans. We both think she’s a wonderful Australian author. She’s another on our list of fabulously, fantastic people. Her books are imbued with a certain Australianness, relaxed and humorous on the surface, with a deeper undercurrent lurking beneath. We have read all her books and followed her writing journey (along with her two very talented sisters) over the years.
Naturally, we were ridiculously excited when her new book came out. We were waiting and waiting and had the date marked in our calendars. We rushed into the bookstore and bought a copy each. That in itself is unusual these days. We’ve been making sure to read different books so we can write more reviews, but we decided this was an exception (well, neither of us were willing to say we wouldn’t read it and read something else instead hehe).
Right. Get to the point, you are screaming at me, I know. Get to the book!
It was great. Really, it was. When we started reading and there was a mention of libraries we quietly fist-punched the air. Yeah! Go libraries! Liane wrote about them as if she’d been in many, and we know she has (please come to ours next?). It’s her light, effortless style of writing that grabs you though, such a relief to read after heavy, heftier books that throw language and imagery in your face, flaunting their technical skills. Sometimes they just seem to try too hard.
Truly, Madly, Guilty is about an incident at a neighbourhood barbeque, but the nature of the incident isn’t revealed until later in the book, with the full details coming to light as the story progresses. There are six adults at the barbeque, each with a story of their own, each with their own guilt about the incident, each reacting to it and being affected by it in different ways. Their reactions draw from their back stories, their upbringing and on the degree of responsibility they feel.
Liane’s books are always very character driven and this one was no different. We found the two main female characters, Erika and Clementine, were harder to connect with this time compared to the characters in her previous stories. They have a fraught, rather forced friendship that was not as easy to identify with. On the other hand, the male characters are great, particularly Oliver and Vid. You completely get them, they came alive in your mind immediately and made you think, yeah, I know these people.
About halfway through we really started to engage with the story, really wanted to know how the characters resolved their feelings over the incident. From then on we were flipping the pages and texting and chatting about it. The characters became a bit more nuanced as their back-stories came to light and their relationships built to a climax.
This is certainly a Liane Moriarty read, she is developing a very distinctive formula, a distinctive voice and personality to her writing. The worry for us is whether she can continue to do so without becoming formulaic, if that makes sense.
All in all, it’s not our favourite Liane Moriarty book (if you want to know about her other books, you can read this review from earlier in the year). We are still debating about our favourite (mine I think is Big Little Lies, Jody’s is What Alice Forgot) But Truly, Madly, Guilty is still an engaging, enjoyable read.
Amanda & Jody