Study Guide

Big Little Lies Friendship

By Liane Moriarty

Friendship

Madeline hobbled along in bare feet, leaning heavily and unselfconsciously on Jane’s shoulder as if they were old friends. It felt intimate. She could smell Madeline’s perfume, something citrusy and delicious. Jane hadn’t been touched much by other grown-ups in the last five years. (4.2)

Madeline has a gift for instantaneous friendship, but she also simply feels an immediate friend-attraction towards Jane. Jane is equally charmed by Madeline, especially because Madeline perfectly compliments her shy nature.

For some reason when it was just her and Madeline, it was OK. It was because she’d known Madeline for such a long time. Her personality felt intact when it was just the two of them. (5.3)

Celeste and Madeline have known each for a few years, and Madeline has helped bring the day-dreamy, ethereal Celeste down to earth. She's also provided something of a lifeline to the real world—Celeste feels safe when she's around Madeline.

“Oh, calamity, thought Madeline.

Wonderful. She’d just made friends with the mother of a little thug. He’d seemed so cute and sweet in the car. Thank God he hadn’t tried to choke Chloe. That would have been awkward. Also, Chloe would have knocked him out with a right hook. (7.1)

We have to admit it: we love Madeline. She's not terribly thrilled that she just spent the morning with a stranger whose kiddo seems to be weird and violent…but at least she can view the whole kerfuffle through her usual hilarious, wry lens.

“I want to have a playdate with Ziggy,” announced Chloe one warm summer night early in the new year. […] “You should have a playdate with Skye.” Abigail put down her fork and spoke to Chloe. “She’s very excited about being in the same class as you.” (12.1-3)

Abigail wants to play friend-matchmaker and set up her half-sisters on a playdate. This is partially heartfelt—hey, she's social butterfly Madeline's daughter—and partially because she wants to get in good with her idol, Bonnie.

“If Ziggy isn’t invited, then Chloe isn’t going,” Madeline had said at coffee this morning.

“Please don’t do that,” Jane had said. “You’re going to make things worse.”

But Madeline just raised her eyebrows and shrugged. “I’ve already told Renata.” (20.10)

If we had to describe Madeline in one word it would be loyal. If we had to describe Madeline in two words, we might add troublemaker. Madeline wants to stir up a little mischief by withdrawing Chloe from Renata's daughter's birthday party invite list…but she also wants to make a big fat point about supporting her girl Jane.

Samantha: Listen, you need to get your head around the demographics of this place. So first of all you’ve got your blue collars—tradies, we call them. We’ve got a lot of tradies in Pirriwee. Like my Stu. Salt of the earth. Or salt of the sea, because they all surf, of course. Most of the tradies grew up here and never left. Then you’ve got your alternative types. Your dippy hippies. And in the last ten years or so, all these wealthy execs and banker wankers have moved in and built massive McMansions up on the cliffs. But! There’s only one primary school for all our kids! (27.1)

Pirriwee Public is filled with a bunch of different socio-economic classes and, for the most part, everyone gets along. Madeline's not made of money, but she's friends with super-rich Celeste. And Jane, even though she's not a "dippy hippy," is definitely considered one of the "alternative types."

New friends? Was that it? The sea air?

The regular exercise was probably helping too. She and Celeste were both getting fitter. They’d both been so happy when they noticed they didn’t have to stop and catch their breath when they reached the top of the flight of stairs near the graveyard. (35.15)

Jane is blooming. She's way happier than she used to be. Sure, part of it has to do with sea air and exercise…but she's also now surrounded by supportive, kind, kick-butt friends. That plays a role, too.

Samantha was small and wiry, a pocket-size version of an athlete. She ran marathons, but Madeline forgave her for this flaw because Samantha seemed to say exactly what she thought and she was also one of those people who were completely at the mercy of her own sense of humor. She could frequently be seen around the playground, clutching somebody’s arm to help her stay upright while she laughed helplessly. (40.4)

Madeline is BFFs with Celeste and Jane, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have other buddies. She really appreciated Samantha, who is hilarious, zany, and an unpretentious marathon runner.

“You don’t have to do that,” said Jane. “It’s fine. It will all get sorted out.”

“I’m just so terribly sorry,” said Celeste again, and her voice shook. She was thinking now of Saxon Banks.

“Hey!” said Jane. She put her hand on Celeste’s arm. “It’s fine. It will all get sorted out. It’s not your fault.”

“No, but in a way it is my fault,” said Celeste.” (74.11)

Celeste and Jane are more muted than Madeline (really, who isn't?), but their friendship is for real. As soon as Celeste finds out that her son was the bully, she comes clean to her buddy Jane. And Jane, in typical Jane fashion, tells her it's okay.

“I was worried we were destined for friendship,” she said when they came up for air. Tom brushed a lock of hair off her forehead and tucked it behind her ear. “Are you kidding? Besides, I’ve got enough friends.” (82.29)

We were so happy when sweet barista-surfer Tom and Jane smooched. Big Little Lies threw us a bit of a curveball—just when we thought Tom and Jane's chemistry had fizzled out, it reignites with a seaside kiss.

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