Monday, February 21, 2022

Review: The Trivia Night

Title: The Trivia Night

Author: Ali Lowe

Publisher: 22nd February 2022 by Hachette Australia

Pages: 352 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: mystery, contemporary, adult

My Rating: 4 cups


Question: How long does it take to tear someone's life apart?

Answer: Sometimes just one night.

From the outside the parents of the kindergarten class at Darley Heights primary school seem to have it all. Living in the wealthy Sydney suburbs, it's a community where everyone knows each other - and secrets don't stay secret for long.

The big date in the calendar is the school's annual fundraising trivia night, but when the evening gets raucously out of hand, talk turns to partner-swapping. Initially scandalised, it's not long before a group of parents make a reckless one-night-only pact.

But in the harsh light of day, those involved must face the fallout of their behaviour. As they begin to navigate the shady aftermath of their wild night, the truth threatens to rip their perfect lives apart - and revenge turns fatal.

THE TRIVIA NIGHT is agripping, domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Sally Hepworth.

My Thoughts

The Trivia Night is the debut novel by Australian, Ali Lowe. She cleverly mixes together the fallout from a fancy-dress trivia night at a primary school fundraiser. When a table of four couples - bringing grudges, angst, flirtations, rumours and ‘swingers’ to the table - a little too much alcohol loosens lips (in more ways than one!)

‘Honestly, guys, trivia night is quite literally the best night of the school year. I promise you: it’s going to be a night to remember! ’

Ali takes the dramas of primary school parents from a rich beachside town and brings them to life. Classic set up so far …. everyone knowing everyone else’s business and how the actions from this one night will change lives forever. From playground politics to a pact that will witness friendships, marriages and indeed lives pushed to the brink. 

The novel is told through the recollections of three of the women involved. First person narrative from Amanda who is new to the school; her friend Alice the events coordinator presented through the recorded notes from meetings with her psychologist; and Zoe in letters/emails penned to her sister. This provides the reader with a well rounded insight into each of the couple's lives - some you will like, some you definitely will not. This is what keeps it interesting throughout with highly engaging writing. 

One of the outcomes I was not expecting was the humour. It was truly funny in parts. From the overall big picture of competitive parenting, down to the nitty gritty of interactions and associations. Ali has her dialogue right on point in places. In complete contrast to this, are the varied serious subjects touched on throughout, particularly towards the end -  alcoholism, infertility, domestic abuse and suicide. Testament, I believe, to Ali’s craft in expertly combining the two. 

‘I looked behind me at the group of aghast faces in a cluster on the bottom step. Heard a stifled giggle and then saw Victoria emerge from the middle of the group like Roald Dahl’s Grand Witch, her face white and her eyes like fire.’

My only issue surrounds the ending - it just didn't quite make the mark for me. I don’t want to spoil it but it fell into the underwhelming, easy out, predictable box that took away one star. All up, however, The Trivia Night goes from a start of frivolous fun, to a darker and far more poignant journey each of the women follow. All up a perfect balance of humour, intrigue and drama. 

‘He was right, and we both knew it. Somewhere along the line we had become unstuck, I had become unstuck. But I wasn’t ready to talk to him about it. I wasn’t ready to own it.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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