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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Read
This is a brilliant well written book and takes you on a powerful, moving and very emotional journey. It is centred on a young man caught up in the Great War and trying to grapple with the loss of his friend, the trauma of the violence and survivor guilt. It is a 'must-read' in 2014. The book is written in relatively short chapters - so great for busy readers. The...
Published 6 months ago by Kernow13

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the headlines are overstated
The book promised a person struggling with PTS and had an intense relationship in the past. Whilst not in anyway downplaying PTS I felt the narrative recounted this but with little passion (Bird Song does it better). The relationship with Frederick seems to be a passing homoerotic incident between boyhood friends whilst his relationship with Felicia seems little more...
Published 3 months ago by Alan and Jan


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Read, 7 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Lie (Paperback)
This is a brilliant well written book and takes you on a powerful, moving and very emotional journey. It is centred on a young man caught up in the Great War and trying to grapple with the loss of his friend, the trauma of the violence and survivor guilt. It is a 'must-read' in 2014. The book is written in relatively short chapters - so great for busy readers. The depictions of a post trauma reaction is masterful. The characterisations are wonderful and the story grips you and absorbs you from the off. It seems slightly petty - but I do wish Helen Dunmore had sought some Cornish advice. For Cornish readers there are some clangers that shake you out of the story. For instance, what the English call Gutters the Cornish call Launders, there were no Friesian cows in 1920s Cornwall, Nettle wrapped cheese was invented in 1983 and what the English call woodlice - the Cornish call 'Grammar-sows' - not 'sow-pigs'. I'm sure none of this would register with the non-Cornish reader and to be frank does not spoil a good book.

The lie is something that you think will be revealed at the end of the book and you speculate along the journey what it might be - there are a list of potential 'lies' along the way - when you discover what the lie is - it is, it must be said, a disappointment. It is as if the lack of a surprising lie is in fact the lie after which the book is called. Anyhow overall a really good book - I would recommend it and I am am drawn to reading more of her work - which is probably the best endorsement.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More truth than lies, 24 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Lie (Paperback)
Helen Dunmore is one of my favourite writers and once again she does not disappoint. The horrors of the Great War and its aftermath are not an easy subject for a modern author to get right but, to my mind, Dunmore is spot on. This story brought for me a very human side to the suffering, not only of the soldiers themselves, but those left behind. I particularly identified with Felicia, my own daughter being the same age as Jeannie in the story. Giving birth and raising a child alone in such uncertain times whilst dealing with a double bereavement doesn't bear thinking about and yet it must have happened to thousands of women.

I was a little confused by the title. To me, Daniel's handling of Mary Pascoe's death is more of a truth than a lie. He keeps a promise and does what he thinks is right at the time, however misguided. His true feelings for Frederick are not something he ever has to lie about as such, least of all Frederick himself, although it would of course have been far more complex had they both survived and chosen to take their relationship further. I did wonder if there was going to be another major lie revealed later in the novel but was kind of relieved when there wasn't as I'd grown to like Daniel and didn't want that to be tainted by some unspeakable act.

As for why he did what he did with Mary Pascoe, unlike many reviewers I find it entirely believable. He had recently lost the two people he loved most but had failed to be there in their final moments or say a proper goodbye. He'd seen death in its most terriffying and horrific form, men buried far from home soil, with no chance to utter their final request. When faced with a relatively peaceful and timely death, what could be more natural than wanting to carry out the old lady's wishes? Perhaps he saw her as a surrogate mother and being able to preside over her burial assuaged some of his guilt at not being there for his own mum's. Maybe in laying to rest a body that was whole and uninjured he felt some atonement for what happened to Frederick. Dan's view of what was "right" would have been totally skewed by what he saw in France and he wouldn't have thought or cared to much about the later consequences. He was just existing day to day.

I did think the ending was rather predictable, but didn't mind really. With all that had gone before, there didn't really seem any other way, sadly.

All in all, a thought-provoking, at times harrowing, but altogether brilliant read.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Intense, 16 Jan. 2014
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lie (Hardcover)
A pensive and tragic story, Helen Dunmore's thirteenth book is set in Cornwall in 1920, where we find ourselves in the company of Daniel Branwell, a young man who has returned from the Great War, physically whole, but emotionally damaged from his experiences, in particular from the death of his childhood friend, Frederick. Daniel has no family; his father died when he was a small boy and his mother passed away while he was fighting at the front. Since he arrived back in Cornwall, an ailing elderly woman, Mary Pascoe, has been giving Daniel food and shelter in return for him working on her smallholding. When Mary is dying, Daniel finds himself making her a promise and in order to carry out her wishes, he has to lie to those around him, but this is not the only lie that Daniel has to live with.

Keen to stay in the area in which he and Frederick grew up, Daniel remains at Mary's tumbledown cottage, tending to her garden and looking after her animals, but although his days are quiet, his nights are interrupted by visits from a ghostly Frederick, covered with mud and slime from the trenches and smelling of rotten flesh and cordite. (No spoilers, we learn all of this early in the novel). Trying to keep his hold on his imagination and his sanity, Daniel soon comes into contact with Frederick's sister, the war-widowed Felicia, who still lives in the large house she and Frederick grew up in. As Daniel spends time re-acquainting himself with Felicia and with his past life, we gradually learn about Daniel's and Frederick's childhood and of the difference in their social positions - Daniel is a bookish child but has to leave school at eleven to help his widowed mother, whereas Frederick, who does not have Daniel's love of learning, is sent to a fee-paying school; when they enter the army, Daniel joins the ranks, but Frederick enters as an officer. As we read on, we learn of how Daniel's and Frederick's friendship develops and of their terrible experiences fighting at the front.

An accomplished storyteller, Helen Dunmore deftly shows how although her hero may have escaped death on the battlefield, he can never really escape from the 'long shadow' of war, nor from the guilt he feels from surviving when others did not. Beautifully written (the author is also a poet) this literary novel with its extracts of poetry and its marvellous descriptions of situation and setting pulled me into Daniel's story from the first page and kept me involved from start to finish. An emotive, poignant and rather intense reading experience.

Also recommended if you are interested in WW1 and its aftermath: Wake and Toby's Room
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and powerful, 28 Jun. 2014
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lie (Paperback)
It's 1920, and Daniel has returned home to Cornwall after fighting in the trenches during World War 1. He is scarred by what he has seen but most of all by the death of his lifelong friend Frederick. Unable to face returning into the town where he grew up, he camps out on a farm outside of town that is owned by a dying old lady. She asks him to do something which becomes the lie on which the book is centered.

This is a slow moving story about the long tern effects of war and the difficulties adjusting back into life afterwards. The only person that Daniel feels any connection with is Frederick's younger sister Felecia, who is herself grieving the loss of both her brother and her husband. As the book progresses we find out more about Daniel's life story, what happened in the war and the consequences that the lie will bring.

I really liked this book. I can see that it could drive someone crazy, as the pace is slow and the wartime scenes keep haunting Daniel. For me though, I felt like I was totally inside Daniel's head and I also felt in increasingly tense as the book went on about what might happen to him. By the end I felt emotionally exhausted and I couldn't stop thinking about what had happened to him. It's a haunting and powerful read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keen to read more by the author now., 21 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Lie (Paperback)
Quiet and slow paced Dunmore’s novel takes on the pace of the life of its protagnist, Daniel, who works on the land of Mary Pascoe a reclusive old woman who had been a friend to his mother, deceased whilst he was battling in France. Daniel’s ‘quiet time’ allows this novel to explore his memories both of childhood and the War and his present. He is back in the place he grew up, surrounded by everything he knew but with many thins missing. He grew up with the children from the big house, Frederick and Felicia, where his mother used to clean and in the War, Frederick is one of the lost and Daniel saw the moment where he died. Daniel is completely and utterly haunted by Frederick – throughout the novel he appears, mud-covered at the end of Daniel’s bed and throughout Mary Pascoe’s home.

In returning to his home town Daniel also reconnects with Felicia, not yet 20 and a war widow with a young child, still living in the big house but alone. Dunmore eloquently tells so many tales of so many people, real people, and it’s a fascinating insight into how life could be when returning from war. Daniel considers himself lucky, he has the shelter at Mary’s home and the land to work on whilst other returning soldiers are reduced to much less.

The Lie that titles this novel refers to something Daniel finds himself saying to survive in the first instance but it soon spirals and becomes beyond his control. The sad ending that comes is almost inevitable but it is hard to take when it does eventually come. There are bright moments in the novel, though they are few and far between and Dunmore succeeds greatly in showing us the true impact of war. Not only has Daniel experienced the horrors of war, he has seen the loss of a friend from his youth, misses the death and funeral of his own mother and returns to a land he knows well but is ultimately changed.

Fascinating and insightful, I am keen to read more of Dunmore’s historical novels.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tragedy of war, 21 Jan. 2014
By 
Amanda Jenkinson "MandyJ" (Cheltenham) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
Helen Dunmore is on top form with her latest novel. It's a beautifully written and accomplished novel set in Cornwall in 1920. Daniel Branwell arrives home from the trenches, physically unscathed but emotionally and psychologically damaged. His mother died while he was away and he finds refuge with old and solitary Mary Pascoe, who lets him build a shelter on her small-holding in exchange for some practical help. But although the war is over, he can find no real peace here, for he remains haunted by the loss of his childhood friend Frederick. He reconnects with Frederick's sister Felicia, but she too is grieving and the losses of war are not easily forgotten.
The story develops slowly and quietly, perfectly paced, alternating between Daniels' day-to-day life and his wartime memories. It's a short book, but powerful and brilliantly imagined. The descriptions are vivid and atmospheric and the characters real and sympathetic. The first person narrative allows the reader to fully engage with Daniel and his attempts to rebuild his life and keep his sanity, but the individual tragedies of war transform lives in ways that are sometime impossible to deal with. There will be many books about WWI and its aftermath during 2014 no doubt, but this will surely be rated one of the best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and well written, 19 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book, I felt the main character was complex, well drawn and wholly believable, and I'm bewildered by some of the negative reviews who found it boring and poorly describing trench warfare. This story had a strong focus on the main character's difficulty in reconnecting with civilian life, and the strange world he formed around him that enabled him to feel "safe", with the trench warfare accounts serving to provide the background to his mental disintegration. I found it to be a deeply touching story. Some have compared it unfavourably with BIrdsong (which tbh I feel is greatly over-rated, spoiled by the very poorly drawn love interest), and Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy (which is on a whole different level of suffering), but this book stands well on its own, so don't let that put you off. It's a much more personal and intimate study, and I found it compulsive reading, well written, and very moving.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lie, 4 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
Insightful and sympathetic writing on the human condition .The details of life in the trenches is utterly stark and devoid of sentiment, truly reflecting the horror of war .No hint of Dulce et Decorum !The characters are portrayed so vividly that the reader is completely involved in their plight and in harmony with them .There are no moral judgements and the reader is left with his own thoughts and decisions.Excellent read ,if more than a little disturbing .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the headlines are overstated, 10 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Lie (Hardcover)
The book promised a person struggling with PTS and had an intense relationship in the past. Whilst not in anyway downplaying PTS I felt the narrative recounted this but with little passion (Bird Song does it better). The relationship with Frederick seems to be a passing homoerotic incident between boyhood friends whilst his relationship with Felicia seems little more than a need for a lost and confused man to seek comfort with someone who was available. It is probably a strength that just what is the 'lie' (either the burial of Mary or the his explanation about the way Frederick death) is ambiguous as is the final paragraph - imagined or real.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another WW1story, 9 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
The Lie begins is the story of a soldier returning from the trenches after WW1. Because he cannot face the community with whom he grew up he agrees to live with an old dying friend of his mother. He sleeps in a home made shack near to her cottage and looks after her , respecting her wish not to call for the doctor. When she dies he buries her in her garden believing that this was what she wanted and moves into her cottage.

Realising that the people in the village would be suspicious he pretends that she is still alive. This results in him living a totally isolated existence in which he suffers recurring nightmares about his experiences in the war interspersed with memories of his childhood with Freddie and Felicia his childhood friends. When he meets up again with Felicia they reestablish their relationship which is now centred on their shared sorrow about the death, in battle of Frederick.

The three stories of Dan's attempt to recover from his war experiences, his childhood and the traumas are told through flashbacks interspersing the present day story in , what I found, a very irritating manner. Just as I was getting involved in his childhood relationship with Freddie we were taken back to Freddie on the battle field. Although this was a convincing way of representing his troubled mind that could not deal with the present because of the horrors that he had experienced in the past I felt that there was not enough in each section to get the reader really involved in each story before being taken off again into the past or the present. For example there was a very touching scene in which Freddie was abused by his father but we were never told what the consequences of this were and it was never referred to again.

This was a book that I felt that I should have enjoyed. It was psychologically convincing, it told a story that was poignant with detail with beautiful passages of describing the country side ,horrific descriptions of what the soldiers had to endure in the trenches and in battle and touching glimpses into the the hardship of Dan' s childhood. And yet I found that I had to force myself to pick it up. For some reason I just didn't care. Maybe it was because the story never seemed to be going anywhere. Like Dan it was stuck in the past and not able to move forward which made for an un compelling narrative.

I have read many of Helen Dunmore's novels before and I have been totally riveted by them . This one disappointed.
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The Lie
The Lie by Helen Dunmore (Paperback - 8 May 2014)
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