Liane Moriarty knows how to keep a reader’s attention, and in Truly Madly Guilty she teases the reader with the promise of a juicy revelation – revealing hints and clues in small chunks, driving the reader truly mad in delicious anticipation.
Erika and Clementine have been friends since childhood, despite their different upbringing. Erika grew up bitten by fleas in a house smelling of dead rats and overrun with trash and junk – her mother, a compulsive hoarder. Now her life married to Oliver is orderly and clean as she lives an accountant’s dream, albeit with issues from her past still haunting her.
Clementine, a talented cellist, has always enjoyed the good life, now with her two little girls, Ruby and Holly. Her friendship with Erika was forced upon her by her charitable mother, a social worker, and Clementine has always resented Erika’s intrusion into her family.
Moriarty weaves the story around an incident at a summer barbecue at the home of Erika and Oliver’s neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, a Tony Soprano clone, who act as a red herring to the mystery of what happened at the barbecue. As the tension builds between the two friends, Moriarty teases the reader with sly hints, as she flips between the barbecue and the daily lives of the characters before and after.
Although Moriarty offers some distractions with her foray into psychological issues, even touching on post traumatic syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, and kleptomania, the story follows the author’s usual style of frothy observations of endearing characters. Like her other novels, Moriarty’s formula produces a tale of friendship caught in a tangle of incidents and deceptions, happily resolved in the end.
I always enjoy Moriarty’s books, but this time I had predicted the surprises involving minor characters who stir the plot (old man Harry, perspicacious Ruby) pages before. Even the big reveal by Erika was something of a let-down. Nevertheless, Truly Madly Guilty is a fun, fast summer read and a wonderful distraction from the real world.
Reviews on Other Books by Moriarty: