Read­ing room: lat­est books

An or­di­nary back­yard bar­be­cue goes cat­a­stroph­i­cally wrong in the lat­est grip­ping sub­ur­ban psy­cho drama from one of Aus­tralia’s best-sell­ing authors, says Juliet Rieden.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS - by Liane Mo­ri­arty, Macmil­lan.

Truly Madly Guilty

The se­cret to au­thor Liane Mo­ri­arty’s suc­cess is her ra­zor-sharp char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. The cast of friends and neigh­bours are not just fic­tional con­struc­tions, they leap from the page into our con­scious­ness; so recog­nis­able that we feel we not only un­der­stand the sort of per­son they may be, we’ve ac­tu­ally met them. Add to this sit­u­a­tions that hail from av­er­age sub­ur­ban life and piv­otal so­cial dilem­mas that res­onate, and it’s easy to see why Liane is a num­ber one on The New York Times best-seller list and one of Aus­tralian pub­lish­ing’s most ex­cit­ing ex­ports.

Her lat­est novel is not as bit­ing as Big Lit­tle Lies, her last hit, but is ut­terly ad­dic­tive nev­er­the­less. Like Christos Tsi­olkas’s The Slap, Truly Madly Guilty is set at an im­promptu back­yard bar­be­cue where the long-fes­ter­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween childhood – and sup­pos­edly ‘best’ – friends Erika and Cle­men­tine re­ceive a pithy air­ing. In truth, these two women couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent and from the open­ing page a ten­sion siz­zles be­tween them.

Ob­ses­sive-com­pul­sive ac­coun­tant Erika and hus­band Oliver have no chil­dren, while scatty, creative cel­list Cle­men­tine and hus­band Sam have two girls. The cou­ples come to­gether at a spur-of-the- mo­ment bar­be­cue at the home of Erika’s show­ily wealthy neigh­bour Vid, his “smok­ing hot” wife, Tif­fany, and their rather in­tel­li­gent 10-year-old daugh­ter, Dakota. Before the event starts, Erika and Oliver broach an awk­ward topic and ask Cle­men­tine if she will do­nate her eggs so they can have a baby. With this un­fore­seen – and some­what un­wel­come – re­quest hang­ing in the air, the friends pro­ceed to the bar­be­cue where an after­noon of rash drink­ing re­sults in a shock­ing event with wide­spread reper­cus­sions.

“I was well into the novel before I re­alised that peo­ple would com­pare it to The Slap!” says Liane. “I think the back­yard bar­be­cue is an Aus­tralian in­sti­tu­tion and I love writ­ing nov­els with or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions.

“I was inspired by a small in­ci­dent that took place at a back­yard bar­be­cue with friends. I couldn’t stop think­ing about it, and that was the spark of in­spi­ra­tion for the novel. Al­though I didn’t repli­cate the in­ci­dent, I can’t tell you what hap­pened be­cause that would give away too much of the plot.”

That plot races along at a tan­ta­lis­ing pace as it flits back and forth in time, de­liv­er­ing twists you don’t see com­ing and fevered emo­tions.

“I was inspired by a small in­ci­dent that took place at a back­yard bar­be­cue with friends. I couldn’t stop think­ing about it... ”

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