Calendar Girls September: Best Novel Set in a School

Yay, it’s time for to take part in the Calendar Girls meme again! That came around quick! 

Calendar Girls was a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile and will now be hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. 

So without further ado, this month’s theme is…

calendar girls september (1)

Books set in a school? Hmmmm…😜

There’s one incredibly obvious choice for this category but I thought (as usual) that I’d be a bit different and choose a book that might be focused around a school but whose main characters are the parents, not the kids. Also, I was shamelessly able to use my own review of the book to write this post (bonus!)

My pick is…

Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty


The book is based around three women whose children are all starting at the same school. There’s Madeline, the down to earth, making-it-up-as-she-goes-along mum; Celeste, the beautiful, rich, slightly vacant mum; and Jane, the downtrodden young mum. The three women become friends, but an incident involving Jane’s son and another little girl creates escalating tension between all of the parents at the school. Everyone seems to have their own take on the matter, and as the parents form allegiances they’re forced to act in a way that protects their own secrets from becoming public knowledge. As the parents become more polarised, emotions are heightened until everything comes to a head at a fateful school fancy dress party – the scene of a terrible crime.

Big Little Lies is written partly in the format of a police investigation, so the reader instantly knows that the story is going to end in some kind of criminal incident. I really liked the way that the narrative was often juxtaposed with a witness statement from another parent which put a totally different spin on the situation – it was really cleverly done and showed how perceptions can be so distorted based on our own prejudices and preconceived ideas.

Despite the playground politics and petty bitchiness, there’s a central theme of strong female friendship and loyalty which was really refreshing to read about. I loved how different Madeline, Celeste and Jane were, yet they all found common ground and faced many of the same issues. I also loved how the different family types were shown – the single parent, the blended family and the traditional two parent setup, and the problems and pitfalls of each.

The book is very female-centric and there’s a fantastic portrayal of lots of different female relationships – as wives, friends, parents, enemies, grandparents, step parents, victims…the list goes on. All of the characters were totally unique and I loved watching their lives unfold based on the way that they reacted to each other.

I loved the ending to the book and the big plot twist that I didn’t see coming. I can’t believe the novel is 480 pages long – I tore through it as it was really fast paced and the characters were all really interesting and well developed.

I’m sure that Big Little Lies will get tarred with the “chick lit” brush but this isn’t some silly romance, it’s a really unique psychological thriller – that just happens to be based at the school gates. It reminded me a lot of Desperate Housewives (season one, before it went downhill) so any fans of that will definitely enjoy it, although I think there’s something in it for everyone. 



Calendar Girls August: Best Novel Set in Summer

Well this is very exciting! For the first time ever I’m taking part in a meme…and not just any meme…the Calendar Girls meme!

Calendar Girls was a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile and will now be hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. 


So without further ado, this month’s theme is…



And my pick is…



The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

I suspect that everyone else taking part in the meme might have chosen a nice light summery read so I thought I’d be a bit different and choose a dark psychological thriller!


I absolutely love Patricia Highsmith and I especially love this book. The Talented Mr.Ripley is an incredibly tense novel that keeps you in suspense from beginning to end. Tom Ripley is a con-man who seizes a fortuitous opportunity to get paid to go to Italy to convince one of his well off acquaintances (Dickie Greenleaf) to return home to America. Upon arriving in Italy and properly befriending Dickie he realises that the life of relaxation, painting and pottering about in Italian seaside towns is one that he’d quite like for himself, but the small matter of finance prevents it. If only his life could be more like Dickie’s…or perhaps if only his life could actually become Dickie’s…


I love the glamorous setting of the book and the juxtaposition of the beautiful Italian coastline with the dark, underhand actions of Tom. I mean, just look at how they shot the film version:



The writing is absolutely excellent and the way that Highsmith builds the suspense is incredibly skilful. Despite being a total psychopath, Tom Ripley is clever, devious and dangerous to know – and despite everything you can’t help but be on his side. It’s not an easy read and it’s certainly not a happy summery story but I think that The Talented Mr. Ripley is a brilliant book if you like your sun drenched stories with a darker twist. 

*Just a quick note – the artwork for the Calendar Girls meme and the monthly pick has been shamelessly stolen by me from Katie’s original post advertising the event. I hope that’s ok ☺