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4 of 4 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 4 months ago by Kernow13

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure I would read again
I wanted to like this book so I bought it from a charity shop - I have read a couple of Helen Dunmore's books and find them very atmospheric. I particularly liked the story about the elderly blind lady that he was looking after, however I think the author should have focused more on their relationship and who the lady really was. After that I found myself wishing for...
Published 5 months ago by Mel


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3.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half stars for the lie, 23 April 2014
This review is from: The Lie (Hardcover)
The Lie is a novel that I had read an awful lot about, and I was looking forward to ticking it off my list of books that I 'must' read this year. I must confess to not having read anything by the author before, which seems terrible, as she has an extensive back catalogue of books that really should appeal to me!

I digress.. The Lie is set in the aftermath of World War I, with flashbacks to before and during the Great War. We meet our protagonist Daniel as he recieves his nightly visit from his former Best friend Frederick, whom appears as a ghost. Frederick and Daniel had very different upbringings, but remained firm friends into the war. Their backgrounds apparent as Daniel joins the ranks, and Frederick enters the forces as an officer. Tragically Frederick loses his life in battle much to Daniels despair. Dunmore's account of the trenches and warfare are gripping, realistic, and do not shy away from the graphic detail of the horror of War.

Daniel mental struggle does not dissipate during daylight hours, for the dilapidated buildings that he inhabits belong to an elderly member of the community, Mary Pascoe who no one can remember seeing for an awfully long time. Daniel has merely carried out Mary's dying wishes, but in doing so he finds he has to lie to those around him. This does not concern him overly, until he is reacquainted with Fredericks sister, the war widowed Felicia.

Both damaged by War, slowly Felicia and Daniel become close again, and as he begins to confide in her, Daniel realises that he must tell the truth before he loses everything.
Personally I found this novel fairly slow paced aside from the last few chapters. I found myself wanting something more to happen between Daniel and Felicia, and if I'm honest I wasn't sure about the ending of the novel, and found it a little predictable. For me it was the difference between a three and a half and a four star rating. Overall it was an enjoyable read, and if you do give it a go, let me know what you think.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great sense of place but why did Dan do it?, 17 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Lie (Paperback)
This is well written and executed as with all Helen Dunmore novels; the themes of PTSD following war and the difficulties of adjusting to civilian life permeate the novel together with a tremendous sadness around the loss of Dan's friend Frederick. I liked the flashbacks to trench warfare and the use of army manuals to introduce chapters - the sense of place in both Cornwall and Northern France was also very strong. The characters of Frederick and his sister Felicia as well as Dan are well drawn and believable.
I guess my only slight reservations are over the key plot moment of Dan arriving and burying Mary Pascoe in her garden without telling anyone - and refusing to admit this to anyone afterwards. I don't think the reasons given for this behaviour are very convincing and it is the rationale behind the ending which as a result appears over the top (forgive the pun!). I guess you could argue that PTSD is behind this irrational behaviour but it nevertheless seems out of character with everything else Dan does.
The title is also a mystery - is the Lie about Dan admitting to his homosexuality, or about Mary Pascoe's burial or about why he left Frederick in no mans land to get help? The reader must decide!
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9 of 11 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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lie, 29 Jan. 2014
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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
I have long been an admirer of Helen Dunmore and am pleased to say that I greatly enjoyed her latest work. Obviously it is the Centenary of the First World War and so there are bound to be many books about such a cataclysmic historical event which changed Europe, and the people involved, forever. This is a moving read, but events and memories are unravelled slowly – almost poetically – and it is not a book to rush, but to savour and think about.

Daniel Branwell returns to his home in Cornwall after the war. His mother has died and Daniel is, although not physically damaged, suffering from vivid flashbacks of his time in the trenches. He finds himself taken in by his mother’s friend, Mary Pascoe, an elderly woman who has a small cottage where she keeps a goat and chickens and grows vegetables. Before the war, Daniel had been forced by circumstances to leave school and work as a gardener and he now takes over the small holding, retreating to the comfort of physical work.

During this novel we learn, gradually, about Daniel’s childhood. His resentment at having to leave school when he was obviously extremely intelligent; plundering the library of his friend Frederick’s father, the volatile Mr Dennis, and his relationship with Frederick’s sister, Felicia. Almost everyone we meet in this novel has lost someone in the war, or knows someone who has been damaged. Indeed, Felicia herself has lost both her brother and her husband in the conflict. Daniel has to try to come to terms with what happened to him, and to Frederick, as well as try to rebuild his shattered life. Yet, how can he do so when Frederick keeps appearing to him and the dead will not seem to lie in their graves?

This is a book which discusses the trauma of war; guilt, suffering and the world that war left behind – shattering families and devastating communities – and yet it is also a novel about hope and re-growth. For a work with such huge themes, the story unfolds slowly and almost gently. An excellent choice for book groups, with much to discuss and, like all Helen Dunmore’s novels, one I am sure I will be re-reading before long.
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of vulnerability and haunting shadows, 22 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
This brilliant sensitive story reaches into the underbelly of the effects of war on the individual. It focuses on how displaced Daniel Bramwell feels in the surroundings of his home town in Cornwall. Few understand him and he feels unable to talk about experiences which haunt him throughout this moving and tragic tale. The lie begins really as an omission and inability to communicate a wish to not get involved - and yet to do what is right - and escalates within the dark veins of unmerciful village gossip.
This is a gripping story, Helen Dunmore dips her sensitive pen into the pain of the past and pulls out a story that must surely reflect much of the confusion carried by those involved in terrible conflict and misunderstanding of those of us back home who cannot go near to a nightmare so livid that those who have lived it can't bear to tell the tale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow at times, 1 April 2014
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
Set in Cornwall shortly after World War One the narrative is often given in flashback. It describes events after the war and during the war as well as during the childhood friendship of the three main characters. The story drifts from present to past and back to present revealing more of the life of Daniel, the main character and his relationship with the two other main characters.

This is a good story describing Daniel’s life before, during and after the war, but it did seem a little slow and repetitive at times hence the four stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greenfig, 19 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
Helen Dunmore is my most loved author and this book is more an anti war prose poem than a novel. It evokes the ghastly experiences of the soldiers of WW One both during and afterwards so powerfully you can actually smell it. I found the constant shifting between past and present rather confusing though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant and moving story, 11 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Lie (Paperback)
I loved this book. I hated having to put it down to go to work or to bed. Helen Dunmore has created a wonderful character in Daniel Branwell, and brings him vividly to life. His life has been blighted by PTSD, grief and poverty; his vivid imagination, fed in childhood by books his circumstances wouldn't allow him to possess for himself, has been taken over by the death of his dearest friend. He is plagued by guilt for his friend and for his mother, and tormented by memories. He helps those around him, not seeking their thanks or praise, but because he can; in doing so, he brings about his own destruction. The telling of his story is a poignant and unflinching reflection on a world that was changing and often unjust.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Daniel and Frederick, 23 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Lie (Kindle Edition)
Helen Dunmore writes with poise and sensitivity, never allowing her writing to congeal, though Daniel's ghosts, which come to claim him in the end as Frederick calls him to his death, threaten to overwhelm the novel's closing chapters. This is what Dunmore wants, of course, because Frederick's existence is the ultimate lie that destroys Daniel, that and the appalling deception of war itself, brilliantly evoked by the writer.
Felicia brings an important extra dimension to the novel's layers of characterization, calling it out of its desolation and bringing some comfort to the shattered life of the war-torn hero.
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The Lie
The Lie by Helen Dunmore (Paperback - 8 May 2014)
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