Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
All is not well at a pleasant get-together of old friends and new-but what went wrong? The combination of three married couples, three kids, one dog, and a cranky neighbor doesn't seem to be a recipe for disaster, but something happened that turned their lives upside down. Chapters alternate between the characters' lives after the in-famous barbecue and flashbacks to that day. The characters try to go about their lives but struggle to deal with the intense fallout. The suspense builds beautifully and keeps listeners working to puzzle out what went down. Using multiple points of view, Moriarty (Big Little Lies) shows her skill in character development, making them come alive on the page. Narrator Caroline Lee does a marvelous job voicing the characters, giving them distinct personalities through inflection and accents. -VERDICT This fun listen maintains humor and levity even in the darkest of times. Highly recommended. ["Alternating between present day and the day of the barbecue, the author builds suspense, keeping readers on the edge of their seats wondering what happened": LJ 7/16 starred review of the Flatiron: Macmillan hc.]-Erin Cataldi, Johnson Cty. P.L., Franklin, IN © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In bestseller Moriarty's (Big Little Lies) latest, one small decision-going to a barbecue-reverberates through the lives of the six adults. Childhood friends Erika and Clementine couldn't be more different. Obsessive-compulsive Erika is married to Oliver; both are accountants, and they have no children. Clementine is a disorganized classical cellist with a husband, Sam, and two small children, Holly and Ruby. These two families are unexpectedly invited to a barbecue at the opulent home of Erika's neighbors: wealthy and vivacious Vid; his "smoking hot" wife, Tiffany; and their 10-year-old daughter, Dakota. During what is supposed to be an ordinary afternoon of food, drink, and lively conversation among people just beginning to become friends, a harrowing event deeply affects all these characters, forcing them to closely examine their choices, not only of that day but of their entire lives, and the effects of those choices. The novel holds back the meat of the story until the reader is about to burst with curiosity, but this technique strangely doesn't feel like torture; it gives readers a chance to consider the endless possibilities of every moment. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A spontaneous barbecue upends the lives of three couples in suburban Sydney. Awkward, bookish Erika and her loving nerd of a husband, Oliver, plan a quiet dinner with her childhood best friend, cellist Clementine, and her husband, Sam. They have something important to talk about, away from their adorable but nosy children. The plans go awry, though, when their loud, affable neighbor, Vid, invites them for a barbecue, and, sure, why not, bring Clementine and Sam and the kids, too. An awkward afternoon turns more serious and affects each couple in different, deep ways. Moriarty plays with the timeline, only revealing bits of the fateful barbecue as Clementine fights for her marriage, Erika deals with her own family drama, and all of Sydney is drenched by weeks of rain. The characters are terrific, especially Vid and his sexpot wife, Tiffany, and even Erika, with her many, many neuroses. Readers of Moriarty's previous summer thrillers may find this one less thrilling than The Husband's Secret (2013) or Big Little Lies (2014), but nobody skewers the suburbs with as much affection as she does.--Maguire, Susan Copyright 2016 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Relying less on comedy or edginess than in previous novels (Big Little Lies, 2014, etc.), Moriarty explores the social and psychological repercussions of a barbecue in Sydney gone terribly awry. What happened emerges slowly through glimpses of characters copingor not copingweeks after the event intercut with an unfolding chronicle of the actual barbecue day. Both past and present are seen through the eyes of those remembering, who have been affected very differently by the events. Leading up to the barbecue, Erika and her husband, Oliver, accountants whose buttoned-up personalities compensate for miserable upbringings (in Erika's case by a hoarder and in Oliver's by alcoholics), have invited Erika's childhood friend Clementine, a cellist preparing for an important audition, her husband, Sam, and two small children, 2-year-old Ruby and 5-year-old Holly, for afternoon tea and are nervously planning to ask Clementine to donate eggs to help them have a baby. Oliver is understandably upset when Erika accepts a spur-of-the-moment invitation from their wealthy, very sociable neighbor, Vid, to bring everyone over to his backyard for a barbecue. But Clementine, who was instinctively dreading Erika's tea, jumps at the chance for a lively afternoon with Vid, his sexy wife, Tiffany, and their brainy 10-year-old daughter, Dakota. While Dakota watches the smaller girls, the adults proceed to get mildly sloshed. Then Erika, drunk for the first time in her life, screams, and a child ends up in a life-threatening situation. The suspicion and guilt the adults and even children secretly feel in the aftermath cause rifts and secrets to surface within the three marriages and within Erika and Clementine's friendship. The setup here is reminiscent of fellow Australian novelist Christos Tsiokas' The Slap (2008), but while Tsiokas uses a minor incident to propel his corrosive examination of middle-class lives, Moriarty's characters resolve their issues too neatly and with too much comforting ease. Not one of Moriarty's best outings. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.