Book to Screen: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.” – Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies

Review of the HBO adaptation of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Who has been watching the HBO adaptation of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty? I adored the book which I listened to via Audible over the summer last year. Going into this adaptation I was a little unsure of how they would make this book into a 7 episode TV show. Women’s fiction adaptations are typically reserved for the big screen, while fantasy series like Outlander and Game of Thrones are more likely to be adapted for television due to length.

I love how the creators are bringing this book to life and especially how they nailed the casting. Reese Witherspoon in particular is exactly who I picture for Madeline and Laura Dern is a fantastic Renata. The other actors in the ensemble cast are great too, but Witherspoon and Dern are exceptional. The setting and cinematography are more like a movie than a TV series – proving that often times, premium networks  with their big budgets are able to up the quality of their product.

**Minor spoilers below***

The Plot

So how does the plot measure up? Well,  for the most part, the story line is true to the book. There is a bully in the kindergarten class and the moms in the community are waging a war among each other as the finger pointing escalates. In addition, the marriages, or lack their of, of the parents are scrutinized as we go behind closed doors. The plot begins to differ from the books where the marriages are concerned. In the book, the abuse that Celeste experiences from her husband is  revealed about halfway through as opposed to the first episode. We learn more about both Renata and Bonnie’s marriages. (Bonnie is married to Madeline’s Ex.) I liked the added depth these bring to the story. Bonnie’s marriage in particular is not as picture-perfect as the book version.

There is an added subplot as Renata attempts to close Madeline’s show. We see Celeste, in full lawyer mode, charge in to save the day and gain insight into who she was before she met Perry. Honestly though, Renata attempting to take down the show felt forced. The most shocking twist so far is Madeline’s affair with the show’s director. This bothered me a great deal to be honest. Madeline is the moral compass in the book, fighting for her friends, smothering in her motherly ways, and in love with her husband. In the HBO version, all this is true as well which makes that affair seem out of character.

Still, I enjoy the HBO version and am eager to see how else the script deviates from the books. I’ll be on the look out for The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot, also by Moriarty, as they are currently in production.

So, what have you been enjoying about this series? Do you like the changes?

Book to Screen: Big Little Lies by Liane MoriartyBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Published by Penguin on August 11th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, General, Contemporary Women, Family Life
Pages: 512
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four-half-stars

The #1New York Timesbestseller that Entertainment Weeklycalled a surefire hit.
NOW AN HBO(r) LIMITED SERIESSTARRINGREESE WITHERSPOON, NICOLE KIDMAN, SHAILENE WOODLEY, ALEXANDER SKARSGARD, LAURA DERN, ADAM SCOTT, AND ZOE KRAVITZ FROM THE DIRECTOR OF WILD AND DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, JEAN-MARC VALLEE, AND WRITER DAVID E. KELLEY

Sometimes it s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal...
A murder a tragic accident or just parents behaving badly?
What s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

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four-half-stars