Ranking All of Liane Moriarty’s Books as We Dream of Summer Beach Reads
We'd be big, little lying if we said we didn't love these.
Liane Moriarty is a growing force in the literary world. The writer, who hails from Australia, is the author of nine adult novels, multiple of which have become New York Times Bestsellers. On top of that, two of her novels have received TV adaptations, with a third in the works. HBO adapted Moriarty’s novel Big Little Lies into a two-season drama series featuring an impressive female-led cast, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz. The series received critical acclaim, and the first season alone scored 16 Primetime Emmy Nominations (and won eight).
Meanwhile, another of Moriarty’s novels, Nine Perfect Strangers, was adapted into a TV series by Hulu. The miniseries premiered on August 18, 2021, and received mostly mixed reviews. In addition to this, a third Moriarty novel is also receiving an adaptation; Apples Never Fall is being developed into a limited series by Peacock.
It’s no wonder that major streaming services are anxious to adapt Moriarty’s work; her novels are thrilling, mysterious, poignant, and heartbreaking. They tackle complex topics—domestic abuse, murder, stalking, and divorce—in a thought-provoking way that challenges readers’ perspectives and beliefs. Plus, most of her novels are gripping page-turners with breathtaking twists and turns. So, whether you’re new to Liane Moriarty’s work or just want to see where your favorites fall, here are all of Moriarty’s novels ranked.
1. Big Little Lies
Before Big Little Lies was a critically acclaimed drama TV series, it was a New York Times Bestselling novel (published in 2014). Arguably Moriarty’s best novel, the story follows three strong women with heartbreaking backgrounds. On the surface, these women may seem like the only thing they have in common is being mothers with children close in age. However, it turns out they are also connected by tragedy. As their stories start to intertwine, the women hide what they know about each other’s stories. This leads to the telling of little lies and the keeping of little secrets that grow and gain momentum until they are large enough to cause significant damage.
Big Little Lies is a story of female friendship and pain intermingled with mystery and humor. The novel reels you in with its fun, engaging, mysterious tone but will ultimately leave you emotionally rocked. Big Little Lies stands out as Moriarty’s greatest work.
2. Nine Perfect Strangers
Nine Perfect Strangers is another New York Times Bestseller from Moriarty, and it’s easy to see why. This story has characters from so many different walks of life, backgrounds, personalities, and struggles—all forced to interact with one another. Pulling off such a feat requires a perfect balance of storytelling and character development.
This is precisely what Nine Perfect Strangers offers. The novel follows nine strangers, all of whom are attending a 10-day “Mind and Body Total Transformation Retreat” at a place called the Tranquillum House. It should be the perfect vacation for broken-hearted romance novelist France Welty, but she can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right at the Tranquillum House. It isn’t long before she convinces the other guests of her suspicions, and they are forced to work together to find and confront the real reason they are all at this retreat.
Nine Perfect Strangers is a thrilling story with more twists than you can imagine. Plus, Moriarity does a fantastic job juggling a lot of characters and making them all feel fully realized, compelling, and relatable. Nine Perfect Strangers is the perfect treat for those who love a thought-provoking mystery.
3. The Husband’s Secret
The Husband’s Secret is another unforgettable novel that is bursting with—as the title says—secrets. At first glance, one might see the title and assume it is a story about infidelity. But the story is far more profound and darker. The book follows Cecilia Fitzpatrick, a a wife and mother whose whole world crumbles when she finds a letter from her husband, addressed to her to be read when he dies. In it, he shares his deepest, life-destroying secrets. There’s just one problem—she discovered the letter prematurely and her husband is still alive. The letter’s contents send her on a journey with two other women, Tess O’Leary and Rachel Crowley, who are seemingly strangers but are all equally connected to Fitzpatrick’s husband’s secrets.
The Husband’s Secret is a suspenseful story that takes a wholly unique spin on the theme of truth and how it can set one free, no matter how much it might hurt. Meanwhile, the unexpected way in which all the women’s stories connect is truly captivating. The Husband’s Secret is funny, thrilling, and satisfyingly ties everything together in a way most mystery stories can only dream of doing.
4. Apples Never Fall
Apples Never Fall follows the Delaney family, who seem perfect from the outside. Stan and Joy Delaney are wealthy soon-to-be retirees and parents to four successful and well-respected adult children. However, the ideal family image dissipates when Joy disappears, and Stan is the sole suspect. The family is thrown into chaos as the children disagree on whether Stan is innocent or guilty. As the investigation continues, the uncovered family secrets will have the Delaneys questioning everything they thought they knew about their family history.
Apples Never Fall is infused with the typical secrets, twists, and relatability of Moriarty novels. However, it also paints a very realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional family—delicately dealing with adult children who must confront family secrets, lies, and trauma as they grow older. Apples Never Fall is both a riveting and painful story.
5. What Alice Forgot
What Alice Forgot is one of Moriarty’s lesser-known novels, but it’s truly a hidden gem. Released in 2014, the story revolves around Alice, a 29-year-old newlywed expecting her first child, believing it’s the beginning of a very happy life. However, the next thing Alice knows, she’s 39, a mother of three, and getting divorced. Her life has fallen apart, but she has no recollection of the previous 10 years. Alice then has to reconstruct the last decade while confronting the price of memory and who she has become.
While many tales of amnesia exist, Alice’s discovery that her life has completely changed directions makes for a riveting story. A puzzle being put together in reverse, readers will both laugh and cry at Alice’s difficult journey.
6. The Last Anniversary
The Last Anniversary is another romantic mystery novel from Moriarty with diverse characters. The story follows Sophie Honeywell, a young woman who has been searching for love since refusing her last lover’s proposal. In a strange turn of events, she inherits the home of her former lover’s aunt. The house is also the site of a long-unsolved mystery. As Honeywell delves into the mysterious past of the household and its inhabitants, she also discovers more about herself and what she wants in life.
The Last Anniversary is elevated by its unique characters and its delicate handling of some complex topics, including sexual identity and postpartum depression. Each side character in the book has an intriguing story and manages to be fleshed out in a way that makes them relatable and compelling. The heavier topics and mystery make it a little more substantial than a typical beach read. However, the book is a little overstuffed and predictable. Honeywell almost becomes a side character in her own story due to the many intricate subplots. While it’s a lot to keep up with and could use more balance, each character and subplot still holds value.
7. The Hypnotist’s Love Story
The Hypnotist’s Love Story is Moriarty’s fourth novel and makes for quite a good beach read. As the title suggests, the novel follows a hypnotherapist, Ellen O’Farrel, on her journey to finding love. O’Farrel believes she may have found “the one” with her partner, Patrick. However, things become very complicated when O’Farrel learns that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend, Saskia, is stalking her and Patrick. Because O’Farrel is a very analytic individual, her reaction is to want to meet and understand Saskia, setting her on a path to discover the truth about Saskia’s and Patrick’s history.
As mentioned above, The Hypnotist’s Love Story is a nice light read. It is essentially a love story with a hint of mystery. The character development is really what will keep readers intrigued, especially with Saskia being surprisingly relatable. However, the mystery doesn’t end with a very satisfactory big reveal, making the build-up feel tedious and unnecessary.
8. Three Wishes
Three Wishes marks the very first novel from Moriarty, published in 1994. The novel might not appeal to all Moriarty fans—it’s outside the mysterious, dark, domestic thrillers that have become her trademark. And admittedly, Moriarty is still getting her style down here, so it’s not perfect. That said, Three Wishes is a fun peek into the author’s beginnings and is enjoyable in its own right.
Three Wishes is about 33-year-old triplets Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle. They’re a mischievous, funny, and beautiful trio who other people can’t help but notice. However, they’re all secretly dealing with their own struggles. From the desire for love to failing marriages to sibling rivalry, their 33rd year is no walk in the park but might be the year they finally confront their individual struggles. If you’re drawn to the wit and humor in Moriarty’s works, this one delivers. It’s definitely a lighter read than some of Moriarty’s novels, but it still offers an enjoyable story.
9. Truly Madly Guilty
In Truly Madly Guilty, Moriarty again turns her sights on the seemingly perfect family. The novel follows Sam and Clementine, a seemingly ordinary, albeit busy, couple. They have two beautiful little girls and are both living out their dreams. Nothing can break their bond, it seems. But when Clementine’s best friend invites them to a barbecue, this seemingly normal event changes everything. Two months later, Clementine and Sam are still reeling from what unfolded. They question what would have happened if they had never gone. Truly Madly Guilty is an intriguing and fairly scary story. Truly Madly Guilty will keep readers interested in the ongoing ripples of a single event and will also have them questioning their own relationships. However, its pacing is a bit slow, and it doesn’t have a very complex plot.
(featured image: Penguin Publishing, Flatiron Books, Berkley, Henry Colt and Co.)
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