My Lies, Your Lies by Susan Lewis
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date: 16th April 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 416
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
| Paperback (out on 06.08.2020)
His life was destroyed by a lie.
Her life will be ruined by the truth.
Joely tells other people’s secrets for a living. As a ghost writer, she’s used to scandal – but this just might be her strangest assignment yet.
Freda has never told her story to anyone before. But now she’s ready to set the record straight and to right a wrong that’s haunted her for forty years.
Freda’s memoir begins with a 15-year-old girl falling madly in love with her teacher. It ends in a way Joely could never possibly have imagined.
As the story unravels, Joely is spun deeper into a world of secrets and lies. Delving further into Freda’s past, Joely’s sure she can uncover the truth… But does she want to?
In 1968, we meet a schoolgirl falling in love with her music teacher, persuading her parents to let her have piano lessons so that she can be alone with him and this is when this passionate and forbidden affair begins – and ends with disastrous consequences.
Fast forward, and Joely can’t come to terms with her husband Callum leaving her for her best friend Martha, and so she’s really glad to be given a writing assignment as a ghost-writer. She leaves London to travel to Devon, not informing her family where she travels to – Callum, their daughter Holly and Joely’s mother Marianne only know that she’s got this job.
Freda Donahue is an established writer, so why did she ask for Joely to help her write her new book? Her memoirs start to feature a very inappropriate relationship between young student and her teacher – the more she tells, the more unsure Joely starts to feel. Is there something more to the memoirs?
Let me mention this right at beginning of my review – the author can beautifully write, almost lyrically. The descriptions of the house and the landscapes were vivid, colourful and very evocative, and I liked them very much. However, the biggest strength lied in the way Ms Lewis has captured the working relationship between Joely and Freda, I think – it was full of challenges, tense and sparkling.
The characters are absolutely not straight – forward, telling lies and half – truths and really, it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth. But at the end I was absolutely certain who’s lying and who’s not, it was my gut – feeling telling me that. And even though I couldn’t warm to the characters, I think that Susan Lewis has developed them in a great way, bringing them all to life, exploring their emotions.
Freda was such a complicated character, blowing hot and cold, and I truly couldn’t get into her head, and not only when Joely was her guest but also when the other things happened – she sometimes seemed so confused and I was wondering, why? There was so much more to Freda and she really was not telling us half of the facts, leaving us trying to guess what else she’s hiding and why.
However, the best character must have been Holly – I truly loved her and her life approach. She was smart, sharp and opinionated but I had a feeling that she is a character that grew most in this story. I loved her one – liners and how down – to – earth she was, and how she came to terms with all that was happening.
Of course I was invested in the story of the young girl falling so hard for her teacher, and in comparison Joely’s problems felt a little lukewarm. What was also brilliant is the fact that we were reading a book within a book, I found it a great idea and I was impatiently waiting for a new chapter with the young student’s memories. The story featuring this young love itself is complex, heavy and thought – provoking but it’s also not as white and black as you can think. You will feel uncertain and start asking questions, that’s for sure.
However, I had a feeling that I am reading two different books, to be honest. The first half was rather on the slow side and hard going, and let’s be honest, the characters acted a bit weird, and then suddenly I started to feel as if I’m sitting on a roller – coaster, the story was so fast and full of curves. And then it slowed down again. I am a bit conflicted about this book, I can’t gather my thoughts together to be honest. I know that many readers love the end of this story. I, however, am not sure – if this happy end is this what I was expecting? There were so many beautiful and optimistic resolutions wrapped up that, however, didn’t feel too realistic and I really had to suspend my belief over the whole end.
Nevertheless, I was hooked by this story and no, I didn’t guess the outcome – I tell you, me and my detective skills, they don’t exist. It was a book full of mysteries, twists and turns and you really couldn’t be sure what’s going to come and what another great twist is going to hit you hard in your face. It was full of questions and secrets to be revealed. It was full of layers and unpeeling them revealed a complex and complicated story, giving us much more that I was expecting – the unveiled facts were surprising, shocking and sad.
“My Lies, Your Lies” is filled with mind games and the author really plays with your mind. It’s a story about unconditional love, about forgiveness and family dynamics, but also it touches upon deceptions, betrayal, forbidden love and hate. It’s a haunting and heart – breaking story with complex and clever plot that will make you think and wonder who’s telling the truth.
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