Over the past three years, amidst the annual deluge of ‘beach reads’, Liane Moriarty has emerged as the reigning queen. While Moriarty has been publishing books since 2004, the witty Australian made headlines (or, at least, an impressive number of book recommendation columns within newspapers and magazines) with her 2013 novel The Husband’s Secret. She followed it up with 2014’s Big Little Lies, and on July 27, pub date likely chosen as a half-birthday present to yours truly, she published the hotly anticipated Truly, Madly, Guilty.
Truly, Madly, Guilty begins on a rainy day in Sydney—one of a seemingly endless string of rainy days. One of the protagonists—Moriarty always keeps you on your toes by featuring multiple, equally important characters in alternating chapters—Clementine, is giving a talk about a fateful day. Her friend Erika sits in the audience until panic overtakes her and she is forced to flee. The reader [very] gradually learns what Clementine and Erika’s relationship to each other—and to that traumatic day—is. Moriarty ably keeps readers guessing as to what exactly happened on this day until over halfway through the book; and the way she ties everything together is characteristically surprising and sensible in equal measure.
Liane’s books are exactly what beach reads should be: light, funny, and quick. No one, with the possible exception of my dad, wants to sit on the beach and plow through a dry, non-fiction tome or power through a depressing, raw memoir. Beach reads need to be sufficiently distracting, but not affecting to the extent that you aren’t able to casually engage in the conversations that surround or move from one activity to the next without a heavy book weighing on your mind. Moriarty has mastered this—her past three books have all featured murders and/or near-death experiences, but her prose is so dry and funny in that distinctly Australian way that, even as you read about injury and death, you’ll find yourself laughing the whole way through.