This is something that I always kinda wanted to do for quite sometime now, in which I discuss both the book and its adaptation in the same review.
Also this will contain spoilers for both the show and the book.
For Big Little Lies I watched the show first last year when it was on HBO. I always would see the book at stores but never really would pick it up because it was never really a genre that I would grab towards which is mystery novels. My girlfriend would sometimes read mystery novels and they could either be really good or really bad. I also borrowed this book from my girlfriend for almost a year before reading it (sorry Julie).
I am first going to review the show.
Big Little Lies
The show premiered on HBO last spring in 2017. It starred Nicole Kidman as Celeste, Reese Witherspoon as Madeline, and Shailine Woodly as Jane.
It started with a mystery of what happened on a school’s trivia night and a dead body that came with it. Was in an accident or murder? That is what the book is trying to figure out.
It felt as if I was watching a very long movie, with nice and solid pacing. It was written by David E. Kelly who I have been following since his legal dramas, The Practice and Boston Legal, and it really paced out the book well.
What they left out/Changed
Since it is an adaptation, there will always be changes to fit the narrative. A major change is the setting. While the book took place in Australia, the show took place in California.
Also Madeline had another son, and so did Reneta who weren’t in the adaptation. It wasn’t a big change since those characters didn’t really add a lot to the plot.
Also there was an affair that Madeline had with her musical director in which she worked at, that wasn’t in the book, and I sort of didn’t like the subplot in the show. But it did give Madeline more to do.
There is also the character of Bonnie. Who in the end, was the one that pushed Perry during the trivia night. Her character was a lot more fleshed out in the book, and it actually gave reason as to why she pushed Perry off.
How it is as an adaptation
I watched the show, before I read the book, and I had the book for months because I borrowed it from my girlfriend. The show did follow a lot of the beats as the books.
It starts with the trivia night, and is told mostly through interviews of the other parents and teachers who were there, and starts from the first day of school. In which an incident occurred involving two of the children and Ziggy the son of Jane is accused on bullying, and from there it deals with the fallout from, party invitations, to wars between parties and gossiping moms all around.
It also deals with a semi civil war between the career moms and the stay at home moms. Especially with Renata and Madeline. The book dived more deeper into that situation.
It also dealt with the issue of domestic violence and how while Celeste and her husband Perry seem like an happy normal couple, who goes away on extravagant vacations all the time, but underneath there is violence among the marriage and Celeste tries to hide under all of that.
The show did a good job at highlighting the various degrees of a domestic violence perpetrator in which there are scenes of Perry being a loving and caring Husband and father, and then becomes the monster that he is.
I also liked how both the show and the book, had the same twist in which Perry was Ziggys father. The book was Jane saying his fake name and revealing that he was her rapist, was very chilling in both the show and the book.
As an adaptation I thought the show did an amazing job with the characters, and most of it lies in its performances especially by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailine Woodley. Aleksander Skardgard and Laura Dern. Those performances elevated the characters and its now suprise that Nicole, Laura and Aleks all won Emmys for their peromances.
Both the show and the book was amazing. I usually don’t read contemporary books and especially mysteries for that matter but loved it any way. I may read more of Lianne Moriarty’s work.