Big Little Lies: book vs. tv

img_4127The first Liane Moriarty book I read was The Husband’s Secret. Not sure what got me to read it – I recall there was a hullaballoo when it came out – so that could have been it, plus the cover was pink (I am a sucker for a colourful cover). I really enjoyed it, and when Big Little Lies came out in 2014, I was on it!

I have since read a few (wait…let me check Goodreads….it’s 6) of Ms. Moriarty’s books, so I am obviously a fan. I like them because she has an easy style to read, she usually grabs you early on and you NEED to find out what happens. Anyway…..

I really enjoyed Big Little Lies (the book). It was very well crafted. She basically starts the book at the end of the story – you know something has happened (I won’t spoil it for you). You know what ‘it’ is but you don’t know who and ‘whodunit’. She builds the characters very well and they are interesting and multi-dimensional. The basic gist is, they live in this idyllic place and on the surface have these fantastic lives, but underneath the facade everyone has secrets. It deals with some pretty heavy subjects (rape, infidelity, bullying, domestic abuse) which makes it compelling and truthfully, very relevant. This is what I like about her books, they have heft to them in that they deal with un-pretty issues.

When I heard that they were making a mini-series about it, I was naturally skeptical. (I recently posted about my thoughts in book vs. movies here.) Reese Witherspoon? Seriously. (Not that I have anything against her but it seemed an odd fit.) Time passed and it finally came on TV and I was not enthusiastic. Since I liked the book so much, I didn’t want to spoil it by watching the show. However, I can’t lie, I was intrigued. How were they going to portray these subjects and women. And the fact that there were some heavy-hitters in terms of actors in it, made me curious.

I started watching the first couple episodes and I wasn’t feeling it. Not because it wasn’t good, I think that I just wasn’t in the mind-set to watch it. It is pretty dark (see above about the subjects that it tackles).

When the Emmy nominations were announced, and then it won like a ton of awards, I was like hey, maybe I should revisit this. So I did. And you know what, it is an excellent show.

Here is what I think (and possibly what had me slightly disoriented when I watched it originally), the setting was completely different (Monterey vs. Australia) so that kind of set it up to be it’s own entity. Although I found it disorienting (I wanted to see what Pirewee Cove actually looked like!), once I got into the story, I liked it. The good thing for me was there was such a long time between me reading the book and seeing the show that I forgot about the details. So I wasn’t sitting there thinking, wait, but in the book they…or whatever.

Obviously I knew how the book/show ends so I had that in mind while watching. I would be curious to hear how people followed it or felt about it that did not read the book. It’s hard to tell how surprising the ending was in the show (I recall being pretty shocked when reading the book).

What I have come to realize is that sometimes a version of a book can be it’s own thing. And it doesn’t have to be compared to the original. Both the book and the adaptation can exist and be awesome on their own. Apparently I am maturing in my views on book to film adaptations. Who knew!


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