13 Big Ways “Big Little Lies” Is Different From The Book, And 6 Little Ones

In case you didn’t know, HBO’s Big Little Lies is based on the 2014 novel of the same name, written by Liane Moriarty.

With Season 2 of the show underway, we wanted to highlight the biggest differences between the novel and the series.
🚨Spoilers ahead!!!🚨


The book takes place in a fictional place called the Pirriwee Peninsula in Australia, not Monterey, California.


In an interview with BirchBox, Liane explained, “The physical features of the Pirriwee Peninsula were inspired by the beaches north of Sydney, an area where I lived a few years back. I knew from the beginning that I wanted a small community because that gives you so much more scope for intrigue and conflict.”


Nathan and Ed witness Perry’s murder.


Celeste, Jane, Ed, Madeline, Bonnie, Renata, and Nathan are all on the balcony when Perry is killed — In the book, he is shoved over the balcony, instead of down a flight of stairs.

Nathan asks Madeline to cover for Bonnie with the police, which she agrees to. This upsets Ed, who wanted to tell the truth. The secret weighs on his conscience and he debates coming clean with the police. He ultimately decides not to, but is angry with Madeline for forcing him into a position where he has to lie.


Bonnie turns herself in to the police.


Before Ed has a chance to, Bonnie turns herself in to the police and confesses to Perry’s murder; she’s sentenced to 200 hours of community service.


Bonnie has a whole backstory that explains why she was triggered into pushing Perry.


In the book, Bonnie explains that her father was physically and verbally abusive towards her mother. When she sees Perry hit Celeste on the balcony, her past trauma triggers a reaction, causing her to shove Perry to his death.

Also, before he’s killed, Bonnie tells Perry that Max, his son, bullied Amabella and her daughter, Skye, because he witnessed Perry beating Celeste and mimicked his behavior. In the TV show, Celeste explains this to Perry in the car when she tells him that she’s leaving him.


Jane thinks her attacker, Saxon Banks, is Perry’s cousin.


In the book, Jane knows what her attacker looks like and that his name is Saxon Banks, which she tells Madeline. In fact, the night she met Perry she noticed a brochure for a property in Pirriwee Peninsula and moved there in hopes of finding and confronting him. Madeline shares this with Celeste, who remembers that Perry has a cousin named Saxon Banks; they assume that he’s Jane’s rapist.

In the show, Jane doesn’t remember what her rapist looks like, only his name. She and Madeline discover an interior designer with the same name, and Jane goes to his office to confront him, but doesn’t remember him. There’s no connection to Perry until the end of Season 1, when she meets him for the first time and recognizes him as her rapist.


Also, Jane has an eating disorder.


While attacking her, Perry verbally abuses Jane, calling her a “fat, ugly little girl,” among other things. After this, she developed an eating disorder and became very insecure about her body.

In the TV show, this is never addressed, but she is often seen running or exercising.


Madeline never cheats on Ed…


Unlike the TV show, Madeline never has an affair with Joseph, the community theatre director.


…but, Renata’s husband has an affair with his family’s nanny.


In the book, the Klein’s employ a nanny, who Geoff — named Gordon in the TV show — is sleeping with (along with another school husband). This comes out at the trivia night, causing a fight prior to the events that take place on the balcony.


Renata moves to London.


After learning of her husband’s infidelity and witnessing Perry’s murder, Renata and Amabella move to London. Before they leave, she apologizes to Ziggy for accusing him of bullying her daughter. In the TV show, she only apologizes to Jane.

She’s also a much smaller character in the book, whereas in the series, she becomes part of the group.


Celeste returns to a career in law.


In the book, Celeste gave up her career as a lawyer when she married Perry. She comes out of retirement to represent Madeline in her case against the city when they try to shut down her production of King Lear — in the TV show, it’s a production of Avenue Q. Her returning to work is a source of contention in her marriage. But after Perry’s death, she continues to practice law full-time.


Tom’s relationship with Jane is much more significant.


Just like in the show, in the book, Jane assumes Tom is gay, based on a rumor she heard from Madeline. His assumed lack of romantic interest in her helps her put her guard down and the two develop a close friendship. But, instead of attending the trivia night together as dates, she runs into him at the event, where she eventually finds out that he’s straight.

Tom’s character has yet to make an appearance in Season 2.


Abigail’s virginity scheme goes a lot further.


In both the book and the show, Madeline’s daughter, Abigail, creates an online auction to sell her virginity in hopes of raising awareness about human sex trafficking. In the series, her parents are able to stop her from publishing the site. But in the book, it goes live and she refuses to shut it down until an anonymous man offers to donate $100,000 to the cause if she ends the auction, which she eventually does. It’s never confirmed, but it’s highly suggested that the “man” who donates the money is really Celeste.


Perry’s mom isn’t a main character.


The book ends with the immediate aftermath of Perry’s death. Because it doesn’t explore their lives afterwards, there’s no arc where Perry’s mom, Mary Louise, comes to help out with the children. Also, because Bonnie confesses to the murder in the book, there would be no reason for Mary Louise to investigate “what really happened” to her son.

Honorable mentions:


— Madeline and Ed have a son named Fred.

— Instead of bangs, Jane cuts all her hair off and debuts the drastic change at the school’s trivia night.

—Perry never attends therapy with Celeste.

—Ziggy, Chloe, Skye, Amabella, and Celeste’s twins, Max and Josh, are starting kindergarten, not first grade.

—Madeline and Jane are both hospitalized after sustaining injuries from a brawl that happened during the trivia night, before Perry is murdered.

You, learning about all these changes:

Which one of these differences surprised you the most? Is there something from the book you wish had been shown on screen? Remember a difference we forgot? Tell us in the comments!