Friday, December 11, 2020

Book Review: The Lies You Told

By Jami Denison

I have two favorite genres—domestic thrillers and “mean moms” women’s fiction. Luckily for me, U.K. author Harriet Tyce has married the two in her sophomore release, The Lies You Told. And I’m happy to report that the genres go together as well as the much-lauded chocolate and peanut butter combination.

When her marriage inexplicably falls apart, Sadie Roper takes her 10-year-old daughter Robin back to London and the house and school where she grew up. As Sadie struggles to return to her legal career, both she and Robin have trouble fitting into the school environment, dominated by the mean mothers who are desperate for their daughters to succeed at any cost. But when these women discover that Sadie is an “old girl” who also went to the school, their hostility vanishes. Being on the inside, however, might be even worse. As Sadie becomes privy to these mothers’ competitive actions, she starts to wonder what really happened to the last girl who left the school. 

Lies is a potato-chip bag of a book; you can’t read just one chapter, and I finished it in less than a day. Sadie is extremely likeable as the mom who keeps making mistakes—sending her kid to school in a homemade costume when every other student is dressed worthy of the Met Gala. And the competition she describes is all too real, although Robin is so smart that Sadie never feels the pressure. The switch from mean moms to domestic thriller is so subtle and natural, it seems these two genres were always meant for each other. An epilogue wraps up things very nicely, clueing in readers that their insights were more accurate than those of the characters’.

Two quibbles with subplots: One, I wished the marriage breakup subplot was more directly tied to the subplot of Sadie’s cruel mother and the contents of her will; two, I wanted the legal case Sadie worked on to be linked to the main mystery with the school girls. The misogyny and corruption Sadie deals with at work were completely removed from her worries about Robin and the school, and so they distracted from the main plot rather than augmenting it. 

Overall, though, Lies is an amazing ride, and in a world where even Hollywood stars find it necessary to commit crimes to ensure their children get into good colleges, it may be closer to fact than fiction. 

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Harriet Tyce:

1 comment:

Dianna said...

This sounds like a book I'd enjoy.