This was a book club read earlier in the year but the waiting list was so long I got the audiobook instead and it turned out to be a lot better than I thought (Caroline Lee does an excellent job and brought the humour out of story, the greek chorus is sooo much better) so I highly recommend to anyone who has already read it in book format 🙂
With that said, I didn't realise they made a US version of it until a few months ago, just before Season 2 came out, which disappoints because of the Australian theme. Season 1 grew on me but I was hoping that the characters would've been more true to form (i.e. Madeline being a brunette instead of a blonde, Ed being an older middle aged, balding guy, Renata and Jeff, Harper and Graeme, Nathan being less of a douche). I was fine with the kids being a few years older and I thought Nicole Kidman was a good choice for Celeste - I always think of her past role in Practical Magic dealing with an abusive relationship. The psychiatrist scene was the most accurate part of the book that I saw portrayed onscreen with Ziggy so A+ there.
I think Bonnie was the biggest adjustment from the book since I pictured a "Plain Jane' character with a single plait over one shoulder and they made her an attractive hippie with a completely different identity. I especially hated her storyline after Season 2.
Another parallel was how the domestic abuse was portrayed - the book felt a lot more subtle in the way Perry behaved and controlled Celeste as opposed to his obvious onscreen 'killer stares' and constant track of her movements that book Perry never cared as much about because he was away so much. The elevated Fifty Shades of Grey dominant-submissive sex scenes took me out of the show also. In addition, I thought the producers did a major injustice giving Madeline an affair storyline when the book provided more than enough drama for her to deal with (i.e. her rivalry with Renata, Abigail, struggles co-parenting with Nathan, and looking after Jane after learning about her background). Book Madeline was one of the few light-hearted characters that brought energy to the story and made the book an interesting read.
I have listened to the audiobook several times now and it never gets old for me - I really wish there was a sequel for the books to make up for the trainwreck that was Season 2. I would read it in a heartbeat!