Single mother Jane arrives in Pirriwee with her 5-year-old son Ziggy. At Ziggy's kindergarten, he is accused of choking one of his female classmates. Rumors about Ziggy continue throughout the school year and some of the Kindergarten parents pressure the school to remove the boy. The Parents take sides in this battle. Two mothers - Madeline and Celeste - befriend Jane and ally themselves with her.
At the novel's beginning, the reader learns that a murder will be committed. This murder is referenced throughout the story, but we must wait until the end to learn who is involved and why.
Moriarty slowly and masterfully peels away layers of her characters to reveal their flaws and the secrets they are hiding.
Madeline is jealous of the affection her daughter Abigail shows to her ex-husband and his new wife Bonnie. Abigail initiates a fundraising campaign that shocks her parents and stepparents.
Celeste is a beautiful woman with two beautiful twins. Her rich, handsome husband Perry is charming and generous; but he flies into a range every few months and beats his wife. Even her closest friends don't suspect the tragedy of her marriage.
And Jane is hiding a dark secret about Ziggy's father.
On one level, the book is a humorous tale of catty, desperate housewives in a suburban community. But Moriarty takes it far beyond that. It is a story of strong women trying to survive against real problems. It is filled with victim blaming, including self-blame by the victims themselves. It shines a light on spousal abuse, bullying, sexual assault, and gossip.
I enjoyed it to the end.