I was glued to every episode of the Big Little Lies miniseries (based on one of my favourite books), and it wasn’t just due to the stellar casting. I mean sure, Nicole Kidman killed it as the conflicted wife in an abusive relationship and Reese Witherspoon had me rolling as the alpha mum with a vengeful side. But Big Little Lies was more than just A-list stars in beautiful beach houses. Based on a best-selling novel by Liane Moriarty, the story had all the elements I go for — sharply drawn characters, wry observations of modern motherhood and relationships, interconnected storylines, humour, and a dash of suspense.
Here are nine other books that deliver the same kind of fun-but-not-dumb tone, perfect for devouring in a hammock — or more realistically, under the covers once the kids are asleep!
1. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Another book I love by the Big Little Lies author? What Alice Forgot. It’s about a divorcing mother of three who wakes up from a bump on the head thinking she’s 10 years younger, pregnant with her first child, and very much in love. Will she get the do-over she so desperately needs?
2. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
The four privileged Plumb siblings have lived their lives expecting to come into a large trust fund. Reckless, in debt, and in trouble, they need that money yesterday. But when eldest brother Leo injures a teenaged waitress in a car accident, he puts the family fortune in jeopardy, and everyone must own up to their own mistakes.
3. The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
Happily married Lucy and Owen find out their friends have an open marriage. It sounds crazy, but also kind of exciting, so they decide to shake things up with a six-month experiment, implementing clear ground rules so nobody gets hurt. What could go wrong? Um, a lot.
4. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
From the author of Where’d You Go Bernadette (also great) comes the story of a wife and mum who vows to turn over a new leaf: “Today, I’ll play a board game with Timby. I’ll initiate sex with Joe. Today, I will take pride in my appearance”. Problem is, life gets in the way of her good intentions. Looks like HBO is turning this one into a miniseries starring Julia Roberts, so why not read it first?
5. The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder
A dysfunctional family reunites to attend the lavish nuptials of golden child Eloise, but they'[re not happy about it. If you like your family secrets with a side of wedding cake, then check out this bitingly funny novel.
6. The Perfect Neighbours by Sarah Pekkanen
The mums of Newport Cove seem to have it all, but each one is hiding a secret that could blow up their “perfect” lives — especially new neighbour Tessa, who seems nice enough yet strangely never invites anyone over. The women’s stories are broken up with funny emails from the “Newport Cove Listserv Digest” that really capture the insanity of neighbour disputes and other first world problems of communal suburban living.
7. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos
One steamy summer night in a Midwestern college town, Claire and Don’s marriage is tested by temptation when Don encounters a gorgeous young woman with suicidal tendencies, while his wife has a chance encounter with a handsome young actor. Long stuck in the patterns of child rearing and disappointing career setbacks, these new adventures offer Claire and Don a welcome jolt of passion, but will their reckless behaviour endanger everything they hold dear?
8. Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
Days before her dream wedding, Georgia learns a devastating secret about her fiance and flees home to wine country to pick up the pieces. Rather than finding comfort from her parents and twin brothers, she discovers her family in crisis, grappling with their own deceptions. Enjoy this Sonoma County-set story with your favourite glass of vino.
9. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
If your favourite part of Big Little Lies was the whodunnit, then here’s one for you: Lo gets her big break as a travel writer, covering the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise liner. Her story has an unexpected twist when she hears a woman disappear overboard, and nobody on the ship believes her. Lo persists in trying to solve the seemingly victimless crime, putting her own life in jeopardy.