Ranking the Best Books by Liane Moriarty

by Heather Caliendo
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Let’s take a look at the best books by Liane Moriarty!

Earlier this year, in anticipation of her latest novel, Malibu Rising, I ranked the best books by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I really enjoyed putting that list together so since Liane Moriarty is releasing a new novel in September (Apples Never Fall; pub date is Sept. 14), I thought it would be fun to rank her books as well.

You most likely know of Liane Moriarty because of Big Little Lies. But I actually first read her novels long before the series version of that book came out. Would you be surprised to know that she actually wrote more women’s fiction type stories before venturing into the darker domestic fiction? It’s interesting to see how a writer’s work evolves due to time, maturity, and of course, literature trends.

Unlike straight up thrillers like Paula Hawkins stories, Liane approaches her recent novels with more of a domestic fiction style. Liane has a unique style and that’s one of the reasons she’s so popular.

Here’s the list of her best novels (in my opinion!).


Big Little Lies

Honestly, it was a bit of a toss up between the first two choices of which one I liked the best but I have to go with Big Little Lies. I mean, there’s a reason it was adapted so well for television. The story is so intriguing with many different layers. I remember I did not want to put it down and had to know how it ended. It’s where Liane truly crafted the combo of domestic fiction with a hint of a thriller. I loved both the book and the series (even season two!). Overall, this is a fantastic read. Here’s the synopsis:

A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot is another stand out novel of hers. It follows Alice, a woman who bumps her head during gym class. This causes her to experience partial amnesia and she doesn’t remember the past 10 years of her life. While she remembers being in love with her husband and ready for her baby to arrive—her current reality is that she’s getting a divorce, has three kids and is in conflict with a lot of people in her life. This one is actually a little darker than I anticipated—especially toward the end. It really brings into perspective how one can change due to environment and age. It also makes you put yourself in the protagonist’s shoes and wonder how would you react if you were her? Here’s the synopsis:

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over—she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Hypnotist Love Story

It’s been years since I’ve read The Hypnotist Love Story but I remember really liking it! It’s quite a unique premise — follows a hypnotherapist who falls in love with a man who is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend. Overall, this is a creative and engaging character study about all the different kinds of ways people love the others in their lives—both pure and toxic. Here’s the synopsis:

Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk.

Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Husband’s Secret

The Husband’s Secret is pretty serious. I actually vividly remember reading it on a plane and being quite surprised at where the story went. The synopsis is pretty vague—on purpose. The story follows Cecilia who finds a letter her husband wrote to her that was supposed to be opened after his death. However, he’s still alive and the secret will change everything. I do remember thinking parts of this story was a bit too messy and some aspects aren’t resolved in a satisfying way. Here’s the synopsis:

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…
 
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Three Wishes

The next two stories are some of Liane’s earlier work that is much more contemporary/women’s fiction style. Three Wishes is Liane’s first novel and it follows three very different triplets. It’s one of those stories where the main characters are all at a crossroads. There’s conflict, resolution with also an expansion of character development. It’s a bit more forgettable compared to the above work, which is not necessarily a bad thing (in a way) as you can read it on a vacation and not be rocked to your core like some of her other stories. Here’s the synopsis:

Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Together, laughter, drama, and mayhem follow them, but apart, each is dealing with her own share of ups and downs.  

Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage, and Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, holds out hope for lasting love. 

In this wise, witty, and hilarious novel, we follow the Kettle sisters through their tumultuous thirty-third year as they deal with sibling rivalry and secrets, revelations and relationships, unfaithful husbands and unthinkable decisions, and the fabulous, frustrating life of forever being part of a trio. 

You can order the book on Amazon here.


The Last Anniversary

The Last Anniversary is where Liane began to show hints of where her writing will go. While the synopsis sounds fairly fluffy, there is much more going on in this story, which revolves around a central mystery. It follows Sophie who moves to an island to begin a new life and she quickly learns that everyone has a secret. Here’s the synopsis:

Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon was the one who got away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was going to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie’s house on Scribbly Gum Island—home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery.

Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family, where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it’s about time she started making her own decisions.

As Sophie’s life becomes increasingly complicated, she discovers that sometimes you have to stop waiting around—and come up with your own fairy-tale ending.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Truly Madly Guilty

The next two stories are at the bottom for a reason. Truly Madly Guilty is okay. I had high expectations after Big Little Lies but this one came up short. It explores parenthood, sex, envy, etc. It’s one of those where the parents feel upset with aging, their current situation—you get the picture. The story mainly follows Sam and Clementine who attend a neighborhood party where a significant event changes everything. Honestly, this story is very meh overall and I remember I got quite bored with it. Here’s the synopsis:

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

You can order the book on Amazon here.


Nine Perfect Strangers

So I was not impressed with Nine Perfect Strangers. It’s truly a bizarre book. The tone is all over the place—comedic and then super dark. Okay, it’s not completely awful, it does feature an interesting concept where nine people gather at a remote health resort. There are some compelling reveals and such. But the ‘villain’ is weak and again, it gets randomly comedic in places. I think it could have used another edit. That said, I’m still going to watch the Hulu version with Nicole Kidman because I’m curious of how this odd story will unfold on TV. Here’s the synopsis:

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

You can order the book on Amazon here.

What’s your favorite Liane Moriarty novel?

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