In the opening lines of Truly Madly Guilty, we learn about a significant event that will change the lives of three couples and everything they thought they knew about themselves.

A barbecue. What could be so important about a get-together like this one?

More than this one event, however, is the significance of the history between two of the characters, Erika and Clementine. How they became friends and their complex journey will reveal much about what ultimately happens, and will shape how everything unfolds.

They started as school friends, but we soon realize that the friendship was lopsided. Clementine had been pressured into inviting Erika to events by her social worker mom, Pam, and as a result, Clementine’s resentment had the power to undermine them in the end. What motivated Pam to reach out to Erika? What horrible secret about Erika’s home and family life is driving the social worker’s actions?

The tale, set in Australia, moves back and forth through time, revealing life after the barbecue…and life on the day of the barbecue. Memories are skewed by alcohol and the resulting intoxication, so the story also helps us see what actually happened, but only a few bits at a time.

I liked how the author showed what the characters were feeling along the way, and also how she filled in details of their personalities and made them seem like real people, flawed and struggling. The chapters had headings that guided us through the journey, and in the end, I felt satisfied that I finally knew how the events of that day had played out.

However, as much as I enjoyed this book, as I’ve loved all the author’s work, the big reveal felt anti-climactic, since learning it all via bits and pieces left us guessing and wondering, but also a little frustrated; and then, when we saw the final pieces of the puzzle come together, there was a feeling of “is that all there is?” But…what I loved more than waiting to see how the final revelations would fill in the gaps was watching the characters struggle with wondering and worrying about their own culpability for that day. How that one day became a defining moment for each of them, leading to better choices in the future. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped



  1. Nice. I’m looking forward to this one. Just like Big Little Lies and the trivia night, I’m curious to see what happens at this barbecue! If it’s half as good as that one I’ll probably like it a lot. Glad you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Greg, and I don’t want to bring any spoilers to the conversation, but having loved both books, I might have to say to focus on the journey rather than the big reveal. Thanks for stopping by.


    1. In retrospect, I think the “let-down” was more about measuring it against the author’s book Little Big Lies, which had such a powerful conclusion that it knocked my socks off. This book was enjoyable mostly for what we saw of the characters and their growth. Thanks for stopping by, Victoria.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, not sure about this one. I’ve read a couple of her books and enjoyed them. Since the journey is worthwhile I’ll put it on my TBR list. Really appreciate your thoughts on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve seen so many mixed thoughts on this book. I planned to read it last week, but the Olympics took over my reading time. I’m hoping to start it again this week. I’m hoping it jolts something in me, because so many have said it isn’t up to Moriarty’s other books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see why some would say that, probably because they expect it to be a lot like Big Little Lies. There are differences in plot lines, style, etc., and that worked okay for me. Hope you enjoy it, Kathy.


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