I suspect that in conversation, Australian author Liane Moriarty is able to keep her audience hanging on her every word, waiting for a punchline or an unexpected twist to a story or anecdote, however Truly Madly Guilty kept me waiting so long to find out what actually happened to the characters in the story that I became more irritable than usual.
Page 1. Something happened at a barbecue Clementine went to.
Page 56. I’m still happily reading away, waiting to find out what happened at the barbecue that Clementine, her husband and children and two other couples attended in suburban Sydney.
Page 81. Whatever happened at the barbecue (I still don’t know what) has affected Clementine and Sam’s marriage. Clementine and Sam seem like a lovely couple, she plays the cello, he is a good bloke, and they have two little girls together.
Page 145. Erika, who is best friends with Clementine, also went to the barbecue, but she can’t remember what happened. Erika is obsessive-compulsive and really, really annoying. She knows everything (and has an opinion about) everything else that ever happened to Clementine, but she can’t remember what happened at the flaming barbecue. Sigh. I still don’t know what happened at the barbecue either.
Page 198. I’m still waiting to find out what happened at the barbecue…
Page 222. Still waiting to find out what happened at the barbecue (wishing the characters had all stayed home instead).
Page 232. The thing that happened at the barbecue is finally revealed. It’s bad, but the result could have been worse. They were lucky.
Page 307. Everyone who attended the barbecue continue to struggle with the fall out.
P 367. I look up the recipe for Cremeschnitte, because Vic made it for everyone at the barbecue and Clementine in particular, loved it. Imagine a sort of vanilla slice with a puff pastry base, and a creamy, custardy filling. Yum. I’ve kept the recipe and will make it sometime soon. I can’t understand why Tiffany, Vic’s wife, isn’t the size of a house.
Pages 392 and 411. Other thing that happened at the barbecue are revealed. (I didn’t see either of those things coming).
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty was similar to Truly Madly Guilty in that all of the characters knew something that was not revealed to the reader for some time. I enjoyed both stories, but sometimes you just want to know what is going on. I like this author’s writing style and the familiarity of the Australian setting (although let’s be honest, Sydney-siders are different to Melbournites) but some of the characters were a bit too much to take. One couple were overly hip and angsty, another couple so obsessive and needy that in real-life you would go out of your way to avoid them and the last couple, who I liked best of all, were cashed-up bogans who didn’t care what anyone thought of them, but weren’t on the page enough for my liking.
I’m think I’ll have to be in the mood to read another book by Liane Moriarty because a third story where everyone except me knows what is going on might be one too many…