The Husband's Secret back in 2014, so was looking forward to Truly Madly Guilty.
The novel opens with well-known cellist Clementine presenting a talk at a local community centre. It's a talk about a significant day in her life, which started as any normal day. Clementine resides in suburban Sydney with husband Sam and their two young children. When they agree to meet up with Erica, Clementine's best friend since childhood, Clementine and Sam have no idea just what Erica and her husband Oliver are about to ask of them. Of her.
It's a life-changing question. And before Clementine fully has time to consider her answer, the two couples are invited to a barbecue by overly-friendly, outgoing neighbours Vid and Tiffany. A barbecue, during which something supposedly goes very wrong.
Now this sounds like a great premise, and the suspense in Liane Moriarty's novels is one of the reasons why I enjoy them so much. Truly Madly Guilty is full of suspense, which is why I'm trying not to give away too much of the plot (I hate spoilers with a passion.) However, the suspense and drama-filled hinting about what happened at the barbecue was, for me, this book's downfall.
The novel focuses on the three couples in the days leading up to the barbecue, which is the focal point of almost every chapter. The book provides a glimpse into the relationships of the three women and their husbands and friends; successful Erica, whose seemingly perfect life is not as complete as people think, leaving her forced to turn to Clementine for help. Creative Clementine, with her happy family, having had to play sister to Erica for most of her life. And Tiffany, wife of bright and loving Vid, with her slightly colourful past and the worry it's causing now that she's a wealthy suburban mother. All of the women are facing their own problems and insecurities, which are due to collide at the barbecue.
My main issue with this novel was that it focused so heavily on the events of the barbecue, that when the incident finally occurred, it was nowhere near as shocking as the build-up throughout the book made it out to be. I was expecting a vastly dramatic event so life-changing for all three couples that there would be no going back from it. Admittedly I felt a bit cheated, as though I had potentially missed something. It was disappointing, mainly because Truly Madly Guilty would have been a great read without the promise of a huge event (which, sadly, didn't arrive). I enjoyed delving into the lives of the three families, with their emotions, secrets and personal struggles. For example, I was particularly interested in the relationship between Erica and Clementine, how they were as children, and how their somewhat forced friendship led Clementine to her own self-doubt, and fear of being seen as selfish. I loved that part of the book, and Tiffany's story also kept me reading.
Though the premise of Truly Madly Guilty kept me hooked, this novel was spoiled a bit for me by the barbecue issue/supposed 'event'. If you're expecting a huge twist in this book then you may well be disappointed. However, it was still quite enjoyable and as a fan of Liane's other works, I won't let this deter me from reading her future releases.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.