Liz Nugent | Little Cruelties

little cruelties liz nugent

The Book: 

Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent, 2001 (Grant County #1)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Characters: 

Brothers William, Brian, and Luke

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The Plot (from Goodreads):

This story begins with a funeral. One of three brothers is dead, mourned by his siblings. But which one? And how? And, most importantly: why?

William, Brian, and Luke are each born a year apart in a lower middle class Catholic family in 1960s Dublin. William, the eldest, rises to the top of the heap in the film industry as a successful movie producer. Luke, the baby of the family, surprises everyone by morphing into a worldwide pop star. Brian, the compliant middle son, is the eternal adult in the room: the helpful, steady one, the manager of finances and careers.

But none of them is actually quite what he seems. Wounded by childhood, they have betrayed one another in myriad ways, hiding behind little lies that have developed into full blown treachery. With an unnerving eye for the complexities of families, Nugent delves into the secret life of a deeply troubled household and provides stunning insights into the many forces that shape us from childhood.

Click here for book spoilers for Little Cruelties
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Little Cruelties, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist:

Brian was sleeping with Will’s wife, and was actually Daisy’s dad. Their mom basically gaslit and emotionally abused Luke his whole life. There were many other secrets between the brothers. 

The Ending:

While high, Luke fell off a hotel balcony and died. William and Brian were both right there and didn’t save him. They became friends and reconciled with Daisy.

The Review: 

Little Cruelties was pretty darn dark. I definitely wouldn’t label it as a mystery or a thriller. The funeral (the first scene of the book) doesn’t come back into the storyline until the last 20 pages–for the most part, this is a very dark family drama with no suspense aspect. 

I enjoyed how the same timelines were retold from the point of view of each brother, so that you got to see it from all sides. 

If you like extreme family dysfunction, you’ll love this book. For me, though, I had trouble liking any of the characters. All of them were selfish, backstabbing, terrible people, and they just got worse and worse. I didn’t care for any of the characters and therefore didn’t care that one of them had died. 

This was my first Liz Nugent book, and from what I’ve read it was a bit of a departure from her typical style. I will definitely give her another chance in the future, but this one didn’t do it for me. 

Get it here.

little cruelties liz nugent

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