I fear that, like many others, I wouldn’t have really noticed Eleanor Oliphant. I’d probably have smiled automatically if I encountered her in the corridor at work, perhaps even said “hi” but not noticed when my greeting prompted no response, as I’d have already moved on. I’d no doubt have…
I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Somehow, despite her phenomenal success
internationally, I had never read one of Liane Moriarty’s books until picking up her latest, Big Little Lies. The setting is parochial, centering around the Pirriwee Public School on Sydney’s affluent north shore in Australia and the parents, of the children who go there. In particular she focuses on Madeline, just turned 40 with a penchant for designer clothes, re-married to the dependable Ed and with a but trying to deal with her former husband moving back into the area with his new wife and young daughter; Celeste the beautiful mother of twin boys leading an idyllic life married to a wealthy entrepreneur; and down-to-earth single mum Jane, a newcomer to the area who won’t identify the father of her son, Ziggy, and whom Madeline adopts into her group. Lining up across the playground are the opposing faction, the “blonde bobs”.
It would have been easy to fall into parody and clichés when describing the women but Moriarty’s characters are nuanced and believable. Although she says she has not based