Book Reviews

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty

By Liane Moriarity

Published in 2017

560 pages

Three couples hold an impromptu barbecue on a sunny Sunday afternoon where the unthinkable happens.  It started out as a normal day but once it was over, nothing would be the same.  Whose fault was it?  At what point could one of them have done something different?  Would it have mattered?  What if someone had just said they couldn’t go?

This is a book about relationships and the consequences of actions.  Erika and Oliver, Clementine and Sam, Vid and Tiffany.  Normal suburban couples dealing with their own crises both before and after the pivotal barbecue.  

Erika and Oliver are straight-laced accountants, both a product of a dysfunctional childhood, trying to navigate infertility issues.  Cellist Clementine, Erika’s reluctant friend, is trying to handle the stress of an upcoming audition while juggling two young children, her husband Sam, and an over-mortgaged house.  Vid and Tiffany, the wealthy couple on the block who hosted the barbecue, seem to have it all but they also have their share of secrets that must be navigated.

I’d read great things about this novel but wasn’t familiar with Moriarity’s work so decided to give it a try when it showed up on Kindle Unlimited.  In many respects, this book didn’t disappoint.  

The relationship between the three couples was intricately woven and set beautifully in front of a backdrop of a gorgeous sunny afternoon followed by months of unrelenting rain.  The novel is structured between the “day of the barbecue” and two months later, when each character/couple deals with the fallout of that fateful afternoon and the changes in their relationships. Each of the women, and to some extent the men, are beautifully fleshed out.  Especially Erika, who may be the most complex and sympathetic character I’ve run across in a while.

About halfway through, it struck me that this is a long book.  I grew a little tired of the red herrings dropped into the “after” chapters and just wanted the author to get to the big reveal.  With alternating points of view for every character, plus Tiffany and Vid’s daughter and one additional neighbor, it became a little overwhelming.  In my opinion, every chapter from the men could have been cut and handled by their spouse and I found the neighbor’s chapter not necessary at all, although it did tie up loose ends.  But by that point, I would have been happy leaving a little to my imagination.

That said, it was worth it to plow through and find out what actually happened because it wasn’t remotely what I’d been expecting.  And the chapter sequences were well done, building the tension incrementally as I made my way through them.

I rated this book a smidgen over three stars but couldn’t quite bring myself to give it a four due to my frustration with the pacing.

Until next time, thanks for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.

Anais Nin

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