Culture Street


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

On August 23, 2016

By Sophia Whitfield

Liane Moriarty has struck recent success in Hollywood with her novel Big Little Lies being picked up by Reese Witherspoon’s production company. Witherspoon has also added Truly Madly Guilty to her growing number of book adaptations.

Moriarty’s latest story begins with the very ordinary scene of a garden barbecue in Australia. But a couple of hours into the barbecue things go horribly wrong. Each person attending the barbecue views the incident differently and everyone carries some burden of guilt.

Clementine is a cellist who is about to audition for the role of a lifetime – playing in the Sydney Symphony. With two young girls at home to look after, practice time is limited. Clementine is increasingly stressed about her upcoming audition. Her husband Sam tries his best to take the pressure off by taking the girls out to allow Clementine the time she needs.

The weekend is approaching and their friends Erika and Oliver have invited them for a barbecue but they have warned them in advance that they have something important they need to discuss.

Erika and Clementine have been friends since childhood but it is a complicated friendship. Erika used Clementine’s home as an escape from her mother whose tendency to hoard meant their home was in constant disarray. Clementine’s parents forced Erika onto Clementine in a bid to ensure their daughter was charitable to someone less fortunate.

Erika always felt she was the less deserving of the two and Clementine often resented Erika’s presence in her home. Yet the two stayed friends and on the day of the barbecue their friendship is tested beyond anything either of them thought possible.

At the last minute Erika’s neighbours, the flamboyant Vid and Tiffany invite them over and insist they bring their friends who they have met before. Erika feels unable to refuse and so the four friends, Clementine and Sam with their two girls and Erika and Oliver, head over to Vid and Tiffany’s place for a barbecue. None of them feel entirely comfortable. Tiffany used to be a dance that entertained her clients in clubs. Both Clementine and Erika find her hard to relate to but as the wine flows and everyone starts to relax they begin to enjoy themselves. But when Erika shrieks Clementine’s name everything falls apart.

Set aside the weekend for this addictive novel. Moriarty crafts brilliantly realistic characters that are scarily recognisable. A compelling read. You can buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.

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