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I can only start by saying that I totally loved this book. Emily Barr is one of my favourite authors but just occasionally I am slightly disappointed with her books. Therefore I was hopeful but cautious when I picked up The Perfect Lie to read but I was not disappointed at all and in fact it ranks high up with my other favourite books from her - The Sisterhood and Out of my Depth. I was completely hooked from the moment I picked it up and I must have read the last 150 pages in one go staying late up into the night to do so!
From the very first page the reader knows that Lucy Riddick's life is based on a lie - but we don't know what or why. However, when, thanks to a heroic act where she saves a little girl from the top of the cliffs in Falmouth, where she lives, her face is plastered all over the newspapers, she realises that the lie is in danger of unravelling. She feels that she has no option but to leave her comfortable and happy life that she has built with her boyfriend Seth, and simply disappear! She takes care not to leave any trace as she attempts to escape to Venice leaving Seth and her best friend Eliza mystified and devastated.
I loved the way that this book was written especially as it alternates between the present and the past. Lucy is the storyteller although when the story goes back in time we quickly realise that her real name is Marianne. The reader also quickly realises that her childhood and adolescent ideas were far from ideal and we discover the secret that she is too scared to tell anyone. I liked the way that this was revealed little by little and the fact that I could never have predicted what had happened.
As the story is told from Lucy's/ Marianne's perspective you really get to know her and how she is feeling. However, halfway through the book is when she disappears and at that point I was thinking that it was a shame as we would not get to see Seth's and Eliza's reactions. Fortunately though, through the second half of the book Eliza takes up part of the storytelling too and that really helps to appreciate the fuller story.
I thought all of the characters were really good and totally believable. I could really sympathise with all of them. I think that Emily Barr is always incredibly good at developing her characters and this is particularly so in this book.
The story is totally riveting and I had probably not read anything quite like it. I was hooked from the very start and it was the sort of book that I just did not want to put down and I did not want to finish. It's very well paced with a good few surprises and it's also quite clever the way things are revealed to the reader little by little. If this sounds like your sort of book or if you have enjoyed other Emily Barr novels, I am sure that you will love this book. I thoroughly recommend it!
The Perfect Lie is currently available on Amazon for only £4.32 (January 2011).
Walking past the latest releases at my local library, my attention was grabbed by an attractive blue and pink coloured hardback book which turned out to be 'The Perfect Lie' by Emily Barr. I probably wouldn't have picked this up, as the cover looked a little bit too feminine and 'fluffy' for my tastes, but I could faintly recall reading a positive review of the novel so decided to give it a chance. I was definitely pleased with my choice as the girly cover really doesn't give any hint of what is, at times, quite a harrowing read, rather than the insubstantial romantic novel I had been expecting.
The novel centres around thirty-something Lucy Riddick who seems to be living quite a settled life in rural Cornwall with her partner, Seth. From the outset though, it is made clear that Lucy is hiding a major secret from her past and is incredibly elusive about her personal history and evasive whenever her partner hints at moving their relationship on towards marriage and children.
This is established within the first couple of chapters, at which point the story starts to have regular flashbacks to a teenage girl called Marianne and her life, flitting back to Lucy and her present day experiences. Both Lucy and Marianne's story are told in the first person which helped to give a real insight into their minds and lives. I found this style of writing very intriguing and was strongly reminded of Lisa Jewell's 'The Truth about Melody Browne' which was another book that I had really enjoyed reading.
The story is split into two parts and I found myself reaching the end of Part One within just a few hours as I was so totally absorbed by the story of the two female characters. I had been in floods of tears for most of Part One, which is a sure sign that I've engaged with the characters and storyline. I was desperate to discover what happened to young Marianne, whose life seemed to be spiralling rapidly out of control and also to tie up the story with Lucy and her obvious fear around something (or somebody) in her past. I did deduce the connection between Lucy and Marianne but I was anxious to discover just how the two stories would interconnect and, ultimately, be resolved.
Sadly, I wasn't quite so emotionally involved in the events of Part Two. Here, the action moves primarily across Europe to Venice which, whilst sounding like a beautiful part of the world, I found all the scenic descriptions a little distracting from the previously intense plot. I also found some of Lucy's behaviour in the city to be pretty implausible and very naive, particularly as somebody who was trying to keep a low profile and start a new life for herself. Finally, the concluding chapters, when all of the unresolved issues and storylines were explored, seemed a little rushed and conveniently tied up for my liking. The inevitable 'big climax' to the story didn't really ring true and I found this affecting my engagement of the story as a whole, which was a shame as I had been totally carried away by the intensity of the opening chapters.
Despite this, I would heartedly recommend giving this novel a go. It is not a light and fluffy read, by any means, and covers quite dark and upsetting topics. In many ways, it would appeal to lovers of Jodi Picoult's work as it touches on some emotive moral dilemmas and really leaves the reader wondering how they would react under similar circumstances, which is a sign of a great author in my opinion.
I haven't read any novels by Emily Barr previously but I will definitely be seeking some more out after reading this. It was certainly not the type of story I was expecting to read based on the cover alone, reinforcing the old cliche that you should never judge a book by its cover!
Lucy Riddick has always dreamed of going to Venice particularly since it's been pinned up on her mum's wall for as long as she can remember. She doesn't think she'll ever get the chance to visit Venice but she's soon proved to be wrong as the secret she's been carrying has finally caught up with her. All of a sudden Lucy realises she needs to escape. She immediately decides that Venice is the place for her and sets off, leaving behind a boyfriend and her life in Cornwall, but it's still not enough and suddenly Lucy finds herself closer to the thing she's been trying to escape from for most of her life...
Up until 2008 I hadn't read any of Emily Barr's books. I had tried to read both Backback and Cuban Heels but I found that I just couldn't click with either books so had always put them down again before taking them to the book swop. However whilst in the book swop one day The Sisterhood caught my eye by Emily Barr and I thought it sounded incredibly interesting. I debated over whether to buy it and decided not to but next time I was in and it was still there I took the plunge and I actually really really loved it. I then picked up The Life You Want and enjoyed that too so it's safe to say I was looking forward to her next offering The Perfect Lie and when I received an early copy I was eager to get stuck in.
Emily Barr seems to be the queen of Chick Lit thrillers so it was very interesting to read the blurb of The Perfect Lie and try to figure out what it all meant - the blurb gives nothing away though so it wasn't too helpful really so I started the book hoping to unravel it all. The book begins on an ordinary day of Lucy's life - out with her boyfriend, Seth, and best friend, Eliza, but an incident at the beach causes Lucy's world to collapse in on itself. Lucy tries to carry on her life as normal but as her paranoia grows it becomes more and more apparent that that is not an option and so Lucy decides to take flight, leaving behind everything she's come to know and love.
That is pretty much the plot, in a nutshell. There is more to that obviously but this is one of those books that you must begin and read without knowing prior to reading exactly what it is you're reading about. The "more" to the plot comes in the form of alternating chapters. Lucy is our main narrator for the entirety of the novel but we also go back to 1988 where a girl called Marianne becomes our narrator, telling of her life as a 16-year-old with a younger brother and rather secretive mother. Rather than hinder the story or detract in any way from Lucy, Marianne's chapters actually enhance the book and as Marianne's story unravels I found myself getting drawn into the novel more and more. It's fair to say that Marianne's story isn't exactly a happy one, she and her brother Finn go through some traumatic times. Again, because of the delicate linking of the plot I'm reluctant to say any more. Once Lucy decides that the only way to save herself is to flee, we also bring Eliza into the picture, giving us both Lucy's side of her disappearance and also Eliza's feelings on the entire matter as Eliza is Lucy's friend and is the sister of Seth, Lucy's boyfriend. I thought it was a good way to keep everyone Lucy was connected to in Cornwall as part of the main story and again, it really really worked.
As far as characters go I'm still slightly wary of Lucy. Like most of Barr's characters she does have an edge to her, one that makes you feel as if you don't really know the real Lucy. Barr makes it so that we don't truly connect with any of her female leads (at least none I've read so far) and it's a strange way to do things. Sure, I liked Lucy and sure I could easily sympathise with everything that caused her to run away but I never felt fully into the character herself. The same goes for Marianne - it's going to be hard not to sympathise with such a young girl and everything she goes through is eye opening and totally shocking but I still couldn't really connect to her. The only character Barr let us really know was Eliza whom I really liked. Eliza recently became a widow and to see how she struggles with trying to date again really made me warm to her. I thought her budding relationship with Patrick was so enjoyable to read.
The book as I mentioned is part-set in Venice and that's another thing Emily Barr excels at: making her locations as glorious as she possibly can and Emily's descriptions of Venice were fantastic and I really felt that I was there with Lucy. As the book came towards it's conclusion, the showdown I was expecting materialised and I wasn't disappointed. It was a fab conclusion although there were some questions marks for me as to what Lucy did. Or didn't do. Yes everything that happens on those final few pages is more than justified but it kind of tars Lucy's character - for me, anyway.
The Perfect Lie is a hugely enjoyable read nevertheless. I loved getting stuck into all of the plots throughout the book and Emily Barr definitely doesn't hold back when it comes to her novels. It was gritty and dark yet still managed to be a good book. Barr seems to be an excellent storyteller and the fact she's also great at incorporating exotic destinations makes it all the better. It's not as good as The Sisterhood but it comes a close close second and I truly recommend you pick this up!