Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Book of Lies - Mary Horlock

'There are always several versions of that thing we call the truth.'

This was a very good read, primarily due to the great character, Catherine Rozier, one of the alternate narrators of the story (the others are her Uncle Charlie, whose recollections have been recorded and transcribed by his brother, Catherine’s father Emile, a local historian and publisher on Guernsey). I found Catherine to be witty, engaging, complex, sad, and her voice made the novel a very compelling read. Catherine is recounting recent events in her world, which consists of being an intelligent, lonely teenage girl on Guernsey in the mid 1980’s, suffering bullying and isolation, and seemingly playing a major role in a tragic occurrence.

Parallel to this we have the story unfolding as told by Charles Rozier, told in 1965 but relating to events during World War Two, again on Guernsey, when the island was under German occupation. Both elements combine to make a dark tale, and the Guernsey portrayed here is an uninspiring place to grow up for these characters, a place which seems to have chosen to cover up or ignore aspects of the past which are uncomfortable to recall, and to offer little hope or inspiration to the youngsters growing up there.

As the title suggests, the storyline involves certain lies and cover-ups being perpetrated, which we the reader are party to but which are only revealed to others gradually, and for some, it is sadly too late, and they will never know the absolute truth.

I felt the novel was cleverly and well constructed, with the two stories from two different time periods running alongside each other in alternate chapters.

The events involving Catherine, and the events involving her Uncle Charlie, had so many parallels, so many similar circumstances arose and similar things happened to them in their lives, in particular both have complex relationships with their fathers, and it was interesting picking up on these strands as the novel developed. The story is revealed gradually and very cleverly.

This is a very readable, accomplished first novel and I would definitely look out for more by this author in the future.


  1. Great review, I really enjoyed this book too.

  2. Hi, thanks! Good read wasn't it.


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